Working with zip files

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Zip files are often used when someone wants to make a series of individuals files easily available via email or the web. By creating a zip file, you can package together a number of different files (and even file types) into a single, compressed file with the extension .zip. This can then be emailed or made available online.

To work with the contents of a zip file, you must first extract the individual files from the single compressed zip file format.

To work with a zip file:

  1. Locate the zip file you have downloaded to your computer.

    Note: you should always download files from the web, rather than choosing to open them directly. This is also true of email attachments you wish to work with.

    Zip files

    Zip files will appear with the .zip extension. Even where the full file name is not visible, you can tell a zip file by the zipper on the icon.

  2. Right-click on the zip file icon and choose Extract All...

    Extract all... option

    If you double-click on a zip file, you will be able to see the files contained within. However, if you work with those files and attempt to save them, you will encounter difficulties. This is because zipped files are read-only. If you try to save these read-only files, they will be saved in a temp folder by default. It is therefore easier and more secure to extract the files to a location of your choosing as described in this guide.
  3. Select the location where you want the files to be stored once extracted by clicking on the Browse... button

    Extract dialog box
  4. Once you have set the location for the files to be stored, click Extract

    Zip files and extracted folders

    The original zip file is shown above (note the zipper on the icon). The extracted files are in the folder below.
  5. Open the folder containing the extracted files.

    Extracted files

    Extracted zip files may contain individual documents, folders or even other zip files. Any additional zip files will also need to be extracted, using the steps above, before the files contained within them can be used.