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What is a ZIP file extension?

The Zip archive format makes it easier to send—and back up—large files or groups of files. A Zip file is a single file containing one or more compressed files, offering an ideal way to make large files smaller and keep related files together. The most popular compression format for Windows, Zip is commonly used for emailing and sharing files over the Internet. When you receive or download a Zip file, you need a way to extract or unpack it so you can access these files. WinZip, the world's most popular zip file opener, it is the fast and easy way to open your Zip files.

What are ZIP files used for?

ZIP is a versatile file format that is most commonly used to encrypt, compress, store and send multiple files as one, but that’s just naming a few.

With a compressed ZIP file, you can store single or multiple files into one archive, making the overall file size much smaller while retaining the original data and quality. This is especially useful for larger files, as many cloud sharing and email services have a max limit for data and the number of files you may upload.

Using the ZIP file format, storing your files locally or on the cloud is also advantageous as the compression can reduce the file size by more than half depending on what you’re zipping.

Encryption is also a key feature for the ZIP file extension, as it allows you to password protect your file, which can be especially handy when sharing sensitive data.

To summarize, the ZIP file format is best used for:

How to Open ZIP Files

Method 1

Open ZIP Files - Step 1
1. Find the .zip file you would like to open on your computer and double-click on the file. This will open up WinZip and display the file.
Open ZIP Files - Step 2
2. On the panel on the right side of the screen, click “Unzip to:” and choose the location you would like to save your file to, for instance the desktop or an external hard drive.
Open ZIP Files - Step 3
3. Click "Unzip" to begin the process. Within a few moments the files within the Zip file will be available to view and use in the location you specified.

Method 2

ZIP File Extractor - Step 1
1. Right-click on the ZIP file and hover over "WinZip" to display the secondary menu.
ZIP File Extractor - Step 2
2. Click on "Unzip to..." and choose the location you want to save the file to.
ZIP File Extractor - Step 3
3. Click on "Unzip" which will open up the contents of the ZIP file.

How to Create & Compress ZIP Files

With WinZip, creating and compressing ZIP files has never been easier. Within just a few clicks, you can turn any file or folder into a ZIP to be stored, sent, and used at your leisure.

The compression ratio differs depending on the file formats used when you make a zip file but will always provide a smaller file format once it’s zipped. An added bonus when creating a ZIP file is that all your folder contents will combine into one file, which makes for much easier sharing on email and social media services.

When you ZIP a file with WinZip, it will be compressed by default. However, you can tweak the settings to ZIP your files with more, less, or no compression.

To create a ZIP file with WinZip, please follow these steps:

  1. Open WinZip
  2. Find and select the files you wish to ZIP from your PC, network, or cloud services in the files panel.
  3. Click “Add to Zip”.
  4. In the actions panel, click “Save as”.
  5. Choose any local, network or cloud location where you wish to save your new ZIP file.
  6. You may also choose to email it, share it in an instant message or via supported social media platforms.

To compress your existing files and ZIP files, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the file(s) you want to compress
  2. Open the submenu by right-clicking the file you want to compress, then clicking on WinZip. Under this, you will get the following options:
    • Add to Zip file from which you can build a Zip file name, encryption method, and compression type.
    • Add to [filename].zip(x) option that uses a default compression method to create a Zip file.

Converting ZIP Files

Since ZIP files are very handy to send through email and social media, the most common way to convert a ZIP file is back to its original format once it has landed on its destination. This is done simply by opening the ZIP, dragging and dropping the contents on your desktop.

Converting your files into ZIP is very easy with WinZip. All you need to do is follow these steps:

How to convert to ZIP on Windows:

  1. Open the File Explorer.
  2. Locate and select the file(s) or folder(s) you want to convert to a ZIP format.
  3. Right-click on the highlighted file, folder, or group.
  4. Hover over the Send to option on the menu.
  5. Select the compressed (zipped) folder.
  6. Name your ZIP file and press Enter.

How to convert to ZIP on macOS:

  1. Open the Finder.
  2. Locate and select the file(s) or folder(s) you want to convert to a ZIP format.
  3. Press Ctrl and click on the highlighted file, folder, or group.
  4. Select Compress from the options on the menu. (Following Compress will be the file name of one selected file or folder, or the number of items you have highlighted if you are grouping multiple files or folders at once.
  5. Name your ZIP file and press Enter.

How to Send a ZIP File

The ZIP file format is ideal for sending on email and supported social media channels, as it’s a format where you can group up multiple files and compress into a smaller size. But if you’re wondering how to send a ZIP file, don't fret!

Just follow these simple steps to learn how to send a ZIP file through any email provider:

  1. Compose the email message and click the paperclip icon below the composition window to select “Attach files”.
  2. Select the ZIP file from your hard drive.
  3. You will see the name of your ZIP file below the composition window. Click send.
  4. The recipient receives the ZIP file as a normal attachment.

How to send a ZIP file through the cloud:

  1. Open your cloud storage
  2. Select upload file or drag & drop your ZIP file.
  3. Send the cloud folder by email or as a downloadable link.

Encrypting & Password Protecting ZIP Files

Password protecting your ZIP files is essential when sharing sensitive data, and With WinZip, you can password protect and encrypt your ZIP files with certified 128- or 256-bit AES encryption in just three easy steps.

To password protect your ZIP file, please follow the steps listed below:

  1. Open WinZip and click Encrypt in the Actions pane.
  2. Drag and drop your files to the center pane and enter a password when the dialog box appears. Click OK.
  3. Click the Options tab in the Actions pane and choose Encryption Settings. Set the level of encryption and click Save.

Done! Your ZIP file will now be protected with your chosen password no matter where you send it. If you intend to send the file, keep in mind that the recipient will need to know the password in order to open the file.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a zip file used for?

A ZIP file can be used for sharing, encrypting or storing files. The compression makes the file size smaller and groups together several files as one.

Can I open a zip file on mobile?

You can use the WinZip app to open any ZIP file on Android or iOS. Simply download the app and select the file you wish to open.

Can I make a zip file on Mac or Linux?

Yes, you can create ZIP files for both Mac and Linux devices. However, while WinZip is available for macOS, it’s not available for Linux.

Can I ZIP a PDF file?

Nearly every file format can be zipped. This includes PDF files as well.

Can I convert ZIP files?

Yes, you can convert ZIP files back to its original uncompressed format. You’re also able to open and convert most archive formats into ZIP with WinZip.

Open Zip files on Windows or Mac

WinZip 28
  • Windows 11
  • Windows 10
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 7
  • Internet Explorer 8 or later
WinZip Mac 10
  • Mac OS X 10.8, 10.9, or 10.10
  • Intel 64-bit processor
  • Supports Apple Retina Displays

WinZip opens and extracts Zip Compressed Archive Files—and many more formats

We designed WinZip to open and extract from the widest range of file formats, including all of the following:

Get WinZip now to open your Zip file(s), then enjoy all that the world's most popular compression utility has to offer, including the easiest and most practical file compression, encryption, packaging, and data backup capabilities.

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