What is a ZIP File?


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I’m sure you’ve received a ZIP file in an email, or downloaded them from the Internet at some point. What exactly is a ZIP file, and what are they for? More importantly… why should you use them?

A Zip file is one that can hold many different files inside of it. You can take several documents, pictures, or any type of files and put them all into one Zip file. Not only will the Zip hold them all, it will also compress them. This makes it much easier to send and receive multiple files at once.

So how do you make a Zip file? Well, there are a couple of ways. You can use software such as WinZip or WinRar. Or… you can make compressed (zipped) folders yourself. Let me show you how:

  • Let’s say you want to zip together several pictures. Go to your pictures, and select the ones you want to zip by holding down the CTRLbutton while single clicking each picture.
  • Now, with all the pictures selected, right click on one of them. When the menu pops up, slide the mouse up to “Send To” and then click on Compressed (zipped) folder.
  • The folder is automatically created for you, in the same location as the files/pictures you selected.

Yes, it’s REALLY that easy. You can now attach this zipped folder to an email to send off the new pictures of your family member or pet to Grandma!

But wait. How do you UNzip a folder when you receive one? Again, you can use one of the tools I mentioned earlier. Or, you can unzip it yourself!

  • Right click on the folder, and choose Extract All.
  • The Extraction Wizard will now open. Click “Next”
  • Choose the location to unzip to, and click “Next” again.
  • As soon as it is done, it will tell you it’s finished, and ask you whether you want it to automatically open your files in a separate window. If you don’t, UNcheck the box next to “Show Extracted Files”
  • Click “Finish” … and you’re all finished!

So there you have it. Now you know what a ZIP file is, what they are used for, and how to Zip and Unzip yourself!

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