How to Zip and Unzip Files and Folders in Windows

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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.

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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.

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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

7-Zip

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

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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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