Windows resource file: Lua parsing library

Windows resource file (.res) are binary bundles of "resources". Resource has some sort of ID (numerical or string), type (predefined or user-defined), and raw value. Resource files can be seen standalone (as .res file), or embedded inside PE executable (.exe, .dll) files.

Typical use cases include:

  • providing information about the application (such as title, copyrights, etc)
  • embedding icon(s) to be displayed in file managers into .exe
  • adding non-code data into the binary, such as menus, dialog forms, cursor images, fonts, various misc bitmaps, and locale-aware strings

Windows provides special API to access "resources" from a binary.

Normally, resources files are created with rc compiler: it takes a .rc file (so called "resource-definition script") + all the raw resource binary files for input, and outputs .res file. That .res file can be linked into an .exe / .dll afterwards using a linker.

Internally, resource file is just a sequence of individual resource definitions. RC tool ensures that first resource (#0) is always empty.

File extension


KS implementation details

License: CC0-1.0


This page hosts a formal specification of Windows resource file using Kaitai Struct. This specification can be automatically translated into a variety of programming languages to get a parsing library.

Lua source code to parse Windows resource file