Let’s dive straight in and create a zipped file to see just how easy it is. On a blank part of the Windows Desktop, right-click and choose New, then select ‘Compressed (zipped) Folder’ from the context menu.
Press Enter and a zip file will be created called ‘New Compressed (zipped) Folder.zip’. This can be renamed just like any ordinary file (tap F2, type in a new name and press Enter). To open the zip file in Windows Explorer, double-click it. However, there’s nothing stored in the file at the moment, so you won’t see anything.
Right-click the Desktop again, choose New, then Text Document. Press Enter to create a new empty text document. Drag this file on top of the zip file created in Step 1. When a plus (‘+’) sign appears ( ‘+ Copy’ in Windows 10), release the mouse button.
Open the zip file and the text document will now be visible inside (the original text file is unchanged).
To remove the text file from the zip file, highlight it and press Delete. Any file or folder can be added to an existing zip file by dragging and dropping it on to the zip file in the same way.
Zipped files are signified by a .zip file extension, although depending on Windows Explorer’s settings, this may be hidden with just the file’s name visible.
However, Windows also applies a special icon to zip files: this looks like a normal folder icon with a picture of a zip running from top to bottom.
Also, if you right-click the file and choose Properties, the ‘Type of file’ will be shown as ‘Compressed (zipped) folder’. zip files can be created anywhere and copied, pasted or moved like any ordinary file.
To create a zip file containing documents in an existing folder, open the folder, click to select an item to add, right-click that, choose ‘Send To’, then choose ‘Compressed (zipped) Folder’ and press Enter. A new zip file, automatically named after the original item, will be created.
If a folder is added, all its contents (including any sub-folders) will also be copied into the zip file. In Windows 8, a zip file can be password-protected by opening it and then opening the File menu and choosing Add Password – now type in and confirm the password.
Note that this password will not prevent viewing of the file names contained in the zip file; it will be requested when someone attempts to extract the contents.
To extract everything from a zip file in Windows 8, double-click to open it, then click the ‘Extract all files’ option in the Folder Tasks pane. Alternatively, right-click the zip file and choose ‘Extract All’. When the Extraction Wizard dialogue box appears, click Next.
To choose a location for the extracted files, click Browse. Click Next to complete the wizard, entering the password if prompted.
To extract a single file or folder, open the zip file and drag the item to the Desktop or another folder in Windows Explorer. Extracting files does not delete or alter the contents of the zip file.
In Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 10 the process is similar, but the ‘Extract all files’ button is on the Windows Explorer menu bar (or use the right-click menu, as in Windows 8). For whatever reason, Microsoft removed the ability to add passwords to zip files, although password-protected zip files can still be opened.
Choosing ‘Extract all files’ displays a dialogue box that allows you to choose where to extract the files. Click to tick the ‘Show extracted files when complete’ box to automatically open the new folder after extraction. Click Extract when ready. Again, the contents of the zip file will be unaffected.