Zipped Files

Dear Computer Lady,

Do you have any information about zipfiles? How do I open them, store them, zip them back, or send them?

Do you need a program such as WinZip to open them easier?



Dear Mary,

Zipped files are just files that have been compressed to make them smaller and must be “unzipped” or uncompressed before they can be used. Since zipped files are smaller, they take up less space when stored, and can be emailed or downloaded faster. Zipped files can be stored and sent just like any other file on your computer.

A few years ago, you would have needed a program like Winzip in order to open or create zipped files, but starting with Windows XP, Microsoft has included a the ability to zip and unzip files in Windows. Let’s look at how you can work with zipped files in Windows XP or Vista.

When you are looking at files in Windows Explorer, a zipped file appears as a folder with a zipper going through it like the example below.


When you double click on a zipped folder, Windows explorer will display the contents of the file, but you will not be able to actually use the files until you have, “unzipped” or extracted them.


Windows XP has a link to the left of your files that says, “Extract all files”.


While Windows Vista has a link in the bar above that says, “Extract all files”

Click on the “Extract all files link, and you will be able to open a new folder that contains your newly extracted files.

If you have a bunch of files that you want to zip up (or compress) just follow these directions.

1. Highlight the files you want to zip.

2. Right click on the files.

3. In the context menu that appears, point to “Send To”

4. In the sub-menu under Send To, click on “Compressed (zipped) folder”.


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    • twospirit
    • July 24, 2009

    Howdy Elizabeth:
    You are the perfect person, me thinks’, for helping folks even more so for the ladies who often are intimidated by a male when it comes to answering a tech question.
    Just thought I would add something re; zipped files. I find that easiest ZIP application is 7ZIP. Tis’ easy to use, fast and most importantly, FREE. One does not have to open a ZIP utility to unzip a folder. With 7ZIP installed, you just click on the zipped folder, and….. waaaalllllaaaa, the folder is open and the data/media/whatever is there.

    • blueskies5
    • June 18, 2010

    I have more than one “unzip” file and I just downloaded 7-Zip if that is the file you are talking about. How can I use 7-Zip when I unzip a file as it automatically uses the “WinZip” file I downloaded on here eons ago.
    Corinne Larimore

    1. Try going to the Control Panel and uninstall WinZip.
      Or, Open 7zip first, and use the open menu to access your zipped file.

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