So you’ve just downloaded a .zip (or .rar) file and not sure how to unzip files in Windows 10? You can use the default Windows zip/unzip utility to compress and unzip files or folders in Windows 10.
You can also use apps like WinZip for this, but, in this guide, we’ll be discussing some easy ways to manually unzip or extract files on Windows 10, without any software. The steps shown further are easy to follow and don’t require any technical assistance.
Before you learn how to zip/unzip files, we’ll let you in on the basics of compressing and extracting files in Windows 10. Along the way, you’ll also learn some simple tricks to zip and unzip folders in your Windows 10 PC. Let’s start.
What is a Zip File in Windows?
ZIP is one of the most popular file formats in the world of computing. Introduced in 1989, the .zip file format is best used on Windows operating systems for archiving data.
In Windows 10, the ZIP file is an archive file format. It is a trusted way to compress data without the risk of any loss. A zip file can contain more than one file(s), folder(s) or directories. These contents are compressed together, and unlike your normal folder contents, you won’t be able to view them in a File Explorer window.
Common ZIP file formats include –
You can also build your own zip file or archive file format with the help of a third-party software like 7-zip.
Why Compress Files and Folders in Windows 10?
Besides the basic advantage of lossless data compression, zipping files in Windows 10 comes with some more benefits. To start with, you can save up space on your hard drive.
You can optimize the space your data takes up in your Windows 10 system. You can club up the similar files and common folders, compress/zip them, and free up a significant amount of memory from your hard drive.
The zipping feature is also a handful for sharing multiple files through email or other options. You can simply drag and upload the zip file on your email and send a large number of files within it in a single shot. It is way more convenient than sending numerous files with dozens of emails.
How to Compress/Zip Files in Windows 10
So, let’s go forth a compress/zip files on Windows 10. Before you begin, make sure the file isn’t running in the background. Also, make sure to close all programs using the folder or its contents before the zipping begins.
To zip a file in Windows 10,
- Go to the taskbar on your desktop
- Click on the File Explorer icon (or go to the location of the files that you want to zip)
- In the window, select a file (media, document) or multiple files (hold-press Ctrl and click to select multiple files)
- Right-click on them
- Go to the Send to option in the drop-down menu
- Click on “Compressed (zipped) folder”
Now, when you return to the folder’s location, you’ll find the zipped folder under it. It would be either in the .rar or .zip format.
Why Unzip Files in Windows 10?
Every zipped file or folder gets unzipped one way or the other. You won’t store a zipped folder if you don’t have an intention to unzip it and use the contents within.
Despite being easy, unzipping a zipped folder isn’t a no-brainer. You need to unzip files properly or you may lose the data permanently. The need to unzip files occurs mostly while sharing a large number of zipped folders.
For example – In an enterprise, you need to unzip the compressed folders to check for bugs and viruses. If a zipped file created with software contains bugs, then unzipping it can lead to a malware attack.
You should also unzip the folder to check for any encryption within. For unzipping an encrypted zip file, you may need to use only a specific tool or software to view the contents.
How to Unzip Compressed Files in Windows 10?
Firstly, if you have a self-extracting (SFX archive) zip file, then unzipping it manually is not even a task for you. You can simply double-click on the self-extracting zip folder, and all its contents get pasted on the current location.
For normal zip files, extracting their contents is relatively easy.
To unzip a zipped folder in Windows 10,
- Open the File Explorer window and locate the archived/zipped folder
- Right-click on the folder
- Select – “Extract All”
- Follow the onscreen instructions
- Enter the location for storing the extracted files
- Put a check for – Show extracted files when complete
- Then, click on Extract or press the E key
- Return the same folder location to find the folder’s contents unzipped
If the zipped folder has multiple files in it, then you’ll see a folder named after the zipped folder in the same location/file path. You can open this folder to view the contents of the zipped folder.
To unzip a single item from the zipped folder,
- Go to the zipped folder
- Double-click on it
- In the WinZip window, browse through the zipped folder items
- Select on and hold the left-click on your mouse to drag it
- Drag the item on your desktop or other File Explorer window
This is how you unzip a single file without unzipping other contents from a zipped folder.
Common Zip/Unzip Issues on Windows 10
The saga of zipping and unzipping in Windows 10 isn’t as always easy as it appears. You could come across some errors while zipping certain files or unzipping archive folders.
Some common issues faced when you zip/unzip files in Windows 10 –
- You get an error message – “This file has been compressed using an unknown compression method” – while extracting a zip file compressed on an earlier Windows OS
- When you right-click a zipped folder, the “Extract All” option goes missing
- Windows SharePoint services are unable to open zip files
Now, you’ve learned how to zip and unzip files in Windows 10. Let us know if you face any issues while doing so, and stay tuned for articles on troubleshooting zip/unzip issues in Windows 10.