.SFX File Extension

File Type 1

Windows Self-extracting Archive

Developer N/A
3.8  |  81 Votes
Category Compressed Files
Format Binary

What is an SFX file?

An SFX file is a compressed archive that has been combined with an executable module, allowing Windows users to extract the archive's files without a decompression program. It is typically saved with the .exe file extension, but may sometimes use the .sfx extension. When double-clicked in Windows, SFX files automatically decompress themselves.

More Information

When a Windows user wants to send files to another user in a compressed format, but they are not sure the other user has any decompression software, they can package the files in an SFX file. An SFX file combines an archive, containing the user's compressed files, with executable program instructions that allow the Windows operating system to decompress the archive. That way, the user who receives the SFX file can "open" it by double-clicking the file, regardless of whether they have any decompression software installed.

Several compression programs can create SFX files, including:

  • Corel WinZip
  • 7-Zip
  • ESTSoft ALZip
  • Smart SFX Pro

These programs can also decompress SFX files.

NOTE: Windows executable programs, or .EXE files, are another type of self-extracting archive. Most SFX files are saved with the .exe extension, which allows Windows to recognize the files as self-extracting archives. If you are having trouble decompressing an SFX file, you should try renaming it to use the .exe extension.

How to open an SFX file

In Windows, you can simply double-click an SFX file to extract the files it contains, provided the file is saved with the .exe file extension. You can also use 7-ZIP, WinRAR, or WinZip to manually decompress an SFX file, if you do not want Windows to execute the program instructions the file contains.

In macOS, you can use Incredible Bee Archiver to extract the files an SFX archive contains. In Linux, you can use PeaZip.


SFX files are typically legitimate self-extracting archives, but they can also be used to distribute and execute malware attacks. To protect against malware attacks, do not double-click an SFX file you have downloaded or received via email unless you trust the file's source.

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Programs that open SFX files

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Updated May 6, 2021
File Type 2

SoundFX Audio File

Developer N/A
3.9  |  20 Votes
Category Audio Files
Format N/A

An SFX file may also be an audio file saved in the SoundFX format. It is similar to a SoundTracker (.TFMX) file, but is designed for sound effects. SFX files may include patterns and audio effects, but are typically short in length.

More Information

The programs that created SFX files are no longer developed or maintained. However, they may be recognized by some audio tracker programs like OpenMPT.

Programs that open or reference SFX files

Updated August 18, 2017

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