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Disassemblers and Binary Dump

In order to look inside the executable binary file, it is not necessary to read through machine codes in hex editor. There are tools which allow converting executable files into human readable form. For example, disassembler is an executable application which allows converting a binary machine codes to human readable assembly instructions.

Disassembler is included in dumpbin.exe, a tool which is shipped with Microsoft Visual Studio and includes functionality to decode portable executable format and output details about PE files internals.

Dumpbin output option include:

  • HEADERS: PE file and section headers
  • LINENUMBERS: line numbers of original source code if line numbers are available as part of program database
  • IMPORTS: list of DLL files that portable executable file uses and functions which are imported
  • EXPORTS: list all exports from the portable executable file
  • DISASM: outputs disassembly for all .text sections (sections with code) in the file
  • PDBPATH: path of the program database file with debug symbols and source code lines information
  • CLRHEADER: outputs information about CLR header (.NET Framework header) of the portable executable file
  • DEPENDENTS: outputs names of the DLLs which current portable executable uses and imports functions from
  • SYMBOLS: outputs debug symbols table from program database file if available
  • ALL: dump all information available about the file

You should note that full output of disassembler and dumpbin is very complex and requires solid computer engineering background to interpret correctly. Despite that certain things like dependent DLLs, imports and exports are relatively easy to read. For easier navigation through imports and exports of portable executable file it is recommended to use Dependency Walker tool available as a separate download or as part of Microsoft Visual Studio install.

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Binary File
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  • application/x-macbinary
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