4 Methods on How To Open DLL Files (With Example Programs)

Updated March 10, 2023

You can use DLL (dynamic-link library) files in programming to streamline processes and create more efficient code. However, you'll need a specific program to open and read DLL files. While you typically leave DLL files alone, knowing how to open and read a DLL file can help you optimize the functions of your computer and the programs that you want to run.

In this article, we discuss what DLL files are and we offer four methods to open and read them.

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What is a DLL file?

A DLL file allows other Windows programs to have functions that are not included in their basic program. DLL files are specific to Windows programs, meaning they won't work with other operating systems. Typically, you can let DLL files run their functions without opening them, but there are certain situations where you want to open a DLL file to streamline programming processes or to determine if a DLL file is missing.

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How to open DLL files

Follow these steps to open a DLL file:

1. Determine the use of the DLL file

DLL files usually run in the background while you use Windows programs. A single DLL file may often have several functions that it can perform, which the programs may access in order to perform that function. Some functions that a DLL file may have include:

  • Drawing graphics

  • Displaying text

  • Managing fonts

  • Making calculations

2. Find a program that can open a DLL file and follow the steps to open the file

There are a few programs that can open a DLL file. Windows computers already have a registry program where you can register DLL files. Visual Studio or a decompiler are both programs that you can download to read your DLL files, while Visual Studio online lets you look at DLLs without downloading or finding a program ahead of time. Below are four methods you can follow to open a DLL file:

Microsoft Windows 7 and newer Registry

Below are steps that may help you open a DLL file on Windows 7 computers and newer:

  1. Open the command prompt. You can open the command prompt by going to the Windows Start menu or by holding Windows Key+R and typing "cmd" in the prompt that appears on screen.

  2. Open the folder with the DLL file. Once you find the folder, hold the Shift key and right-click the folder to open the command prompt directly in that folder.

  3. Type "regsvr32 [DLL name].dll" and press Enter. This function can add the DLL file to your Windows Registry, helping you access your DLL file. You may use this function to add new DLL files to your computer.

  4. Type "regsvr32 -u [DLL name].dll" and press Enter. This function can remove a DLL file from the registry. You may use this to remove DLL files that are not behaving properly.

Microsoft Windows Visual Studio

The Microsoft Windows Visual Studio is a program that allows you to view, edit and build code into a DLL file. When you import code into Visual Studio, it may automatically convert the code into the programming language C# even if it was in a different programming language before.

  1. Download Microsoft Visual Studio. Before you download the program, ensure that your computer meets the requirements to run the program. After you are sure your computer can run the program, run the installer to add it to your computer.

  2. Open the folder that has the DLL file and select "Export to Project." You may use another program to view the code and have found something that needs to change. While in another program, you can right-click the DLL file to export it to Visual Studio. This may take the DLL file from the program that you're using and move it into the Visual Studio.

  3. Edit the code. Using Visual Studio, you may edit the code to run the functions that you want. You can also use Visual Studio to read the DLL file without editing the code.

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Visual Studio Online

A method you can use if your computer does not have Windows Visual Studio installed is the Visual Online Studio. Below are the steps to open a DLL file using the online version of Visual Studio:

  1. Open a web browser. Using the web browser you typically do can help you more efficiently reach the online Visual Studio because you may already be familiar with the browser.

  2. Enter the web address for Visual Studio. In the address bar of your browser, you can type https://online.visualstudio.com/login to reach the site. You can also search for the term "visual studio online."

  3. Sign in or create an account. To use Visual Studio Online, you may want a registered Microsoft account. If you already have one, you can sign in.

  4. Upload the DLL file. Once you're in Visual Studio Online, you can find the DLL file in your file explorer and upload it to the program to read and edit it.

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Decompiler Program

Another method you may use to open a DLL file is by using a decompiler. A decompiler is a program designed to take functional code and create a usable file where you can adjust the code and redesign it as functional code. Using a decompiler can be a safe option because you can look at the code without changing it and affecting your computer. Below are steps that may help you use a decompiler to open your DLL files:

  1. Find a decompiler program and install it. There are a few choices for decompiler programs. Choose one that you feel most comfortable using.

  2. Open the DLL files in the decompiler. This process may vary from program to program, but you may find a button that you can click labeled "File," which may open a list where you can find the DLL file you want.

  3. Use the "Assembly Explorer" to browse the DLL file. DLL files store information as "Nodes" and "Subnodes," which you can explore in a decompiler. By clicking on one node, you may see all of the subnodes contained within it.

  4. Double-click on the node to see the code contained within it. With the code in view, you can scroll through to review and ensure that different aspects are executing the functions you want.

Please note that none of the companies or products mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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