How to Zip and Unzip Files and Folders in Windows


ZIP is the most popular file compression format. Creating a compressed .zip archive is very simple, as is extracting or uncompressing files from within such an archive.

Native Windows Zip

Windows comes with a native compression and extraction tool already installed.

Compressing Using Windows Zip

To zip or compress, all you need to do is right-click on a file, folder, selection of files or selection of folders.

Then select Send to > Compressed (zipped) folder.


Send to compressed (zipped) folder

Windows will create a new zip archive named by default after the last file or folder selected.

However, you are then immediately given the chance to rename the zip file according to your liking.


Rename compressed zip file

Uncompressing Using Windows Zip

To uncompress or extract files from a zip archive, right-click on the zip file and select Extract All from the context menu.

Alternatively, you can double-click on the zip file to open it.

Then select one or more items you want to extract and drag-and-drop them outside the archive to their new location.

Extract Compressed (Zipped) Folders

Extract Compressed (Zipped) Folders


Instead of the native Windows Zip, I like to use 7-Zip for all my archiving and data compression needs.

You can download 7-Zip in its portable version or as an installation package.

7-Zip is an excellent program that is free, open-source and portable. These three facts alone make it the best archival software available.

But 7-Zip is also extremely easy to use.

Open Zip Archives with 7-Zip

Obviously, 7-Zip can open any zip file regardless of what program was used to create the zip file.

Just right-click on the zip archive and select Open With > 7-Zip.

Or, if you have 7-Zip set as the default program to open zip files, then just double-click on the zip file to have it open in 7-Zip.

Associate 7-Zip with Archived and Compressed Files

Associate 7-Zip with archived and compressed file types

Associate 7-Zip with archived and compressed file types

To set 7-Zip as your default program for opening all kinds of archived and compressed data, go to Tools > Options… within 7-Zip’s window.

In the System tab of the Options window, click on the Select all button.

Then click Apply and OK.

From this point on, whenever you double-click an archive, 7-Zip will be the program to open it.

Add Items to Zip Archive


Confirm File Copy

To add an item to an already existing zip file, just open the zip file with 7-Zip and drag-and-drop the additional items to 7-Zip’s window.

7-Zip will ask for your confirmation to copy the selected file(s) and/or folder(s) to the archive.

Click Yes to confirm.

Extract Items from Zip Archive

To extract one or more items from a zip archive, simply open the zip file in 7-Zip, select the item(s), and click on the large Extract button.

Extract items from zip archive

Extract items from zip archive

7-Zip will ask for the location where the extracted file should be placed.

Select location for extracted items

Select location for extracted items

Select the correct Copy to: location and click OK.

Encrypt and Password-Protect Zip Archives

You can also use 7-Zip to encrypt and password-protect your zip archives.

Read my previous post to learn more about this topic.

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