How To Open A ZIP File On Windows & Mac (ZIP File Opener)

This Hands-on Tutorial Explains What is a Zip File, How to Create and Open a Zip File on Windows, Mac, Android & iOS using ZIP File Opener Utilities:

ZIP archive format is the most widely used archive file format. These formats are useful when we wish to transfer large files from one location to another. They are also useful when we need to preserve backups of our data, as backed up files can be saved in much less space in a zipped file/folder.

In this article, we shall take a look at how the ZIP file format is useful, how to create a ZIP file/folder, and also how to open it on different Operating Systems. Towards the end of the article, we will also see some FAQ’s related to the ZIP file format.

How to open ZIP File

What Is A ZIP File

ZIP is an archive file format that was developed by Phil Katz and Gary Conway. This format was created in the year 1989. A ZIP file may contain one or more files in a compressed format.

Do you know?

  • The ZIP file format can also store files even without compressing it.
  • Most of the open-source operating systems have built-in support for the ZIP file format.
  • The minimum size of a ZIP file is 22 bytes whereas the maximum size could go up to (2^32-1) which is equal to bytes, 4,294,967,295 bytes!!

How To Create A ZIP File

Creating a ZIP file depends on the Operating System, one is using. So let us take a look at the steps on how we can ZIP one or more files together on Windows, Mac operating system, and also on Android, iOS.

On Windows Using Compress Utility

Windows operating system has built-in support for zipping as well as unzipping one or more files. It has the compress utility that helps to zip and unzip files.

Let us ZIP a set of 3 files. In the example below, we have 3-word docs named “Work1”, ‘Work2” and “Work3”. These files are located at ‘This PC > Desktop > Work Record’ on the system.

Please follow the steps mentioned below that will guide you in creating a zipped folder containing all the 3 files together.

#1) Open File Explorer and navigate to the folder location that contains the files that need to be zipped together. In our case, the location is ‘This PC > Desktop > Work Record’.

My zipped folder location

#2) Select all the 3 files (Shift + Click) and right-click to get the menu options.

menu options

#3) Select the option “Send to > Compressed (zipped) folder”. This will create a ZIP folder grouping all the three selected files in a folder named “Work1” (the same name as the first file you have selected to be zipped).

Compressed (zipped) folder

#4) Since we have selected Work1 first so we have a zipped folder created with the name “Work1”.

Zipped folder created with name “Work1”

#5) If you wish to rename it, press and hold (or right-click) the folder, select the Rename option, and then type the new name.

Rename.

On Mac Using Archive Utility

Just as in the case of Windows, Mac operating system (Mac OS X 10.3 onwards) also provides built-in support to create a ZIP file. The Archive utility, as it is named, allows for compressing and decompressing files within the Mac OS.

To create a zipped file/folder, follow the steps as given below:

  1. Open Finder Window and navigate to the location containing the files/folders to be zipped.
  2. Shift + click to select a group of files or Command-click to select random files from the location.
  3. Now, right-click and from the popup menu select the option “Compress ..”. The command Compress is followed by either the file name you are trying to ZIP (in case of a single file) or by a number showing the count of the files/folders you are trying to compress.
  4. Ones compressed, a zipped folder named “Archive.zip” is created at the same location as the files/folders you just zipped. The next time you try to create a zipped file/folder at the same location the zipped folder gets named as “Archive2.zip”, “Archive3.zip” and so on.

Besides using the Archive utility of Mac OS for zipping files, there are many other software available in the market. One such utility is the WinZip (Mac Edition). This is licensed software however a trial version of the same is also available.

On Android Using WINZIP

Unlike as in Windows and Mac operating systems, we need to have external software to create a zip file on a device with an Android operating system. There are several such software available, for example, WINZIP, RAR, Zipper, etc. This software can be used by simply downloading them from Google Play Store.

WINZIP is available as a free version but with limited capabilities. Take a look at the steps below to create a zip file on Android using WINZIP:

#1) Download and install the software WINZIP from Google Play Store. As mentioned above this can be installed as a freeware.

#2) Open WinZip and tap the hamburger menu on the top left corner.

hamburger menu

#3) From the list navigate to the files/folder that you want to zip.

files folder

#4) Select the files and tap on the zip option below

ZIP option

#5) Select the location where you wish to save the zipped file

zipped file location

#6) Enter the name of the folder or leave it to the default name seen in the popup. Let us rename it as My zipped folder and click OK.

zipped file name

#7) My zipped folder gets saved with 3 files that were selected for zipping.

My zipped files

On iOS Using Built-in Utility

Apple iPhone from iOS 13 onwards provides built-in support for zipping/unzipping files or folders. This means that iPhone users no longer require external software to zip or unzip files. If you use an iPhone iOS 13 version and above and wish to create a zipped file/folder, just follow the steps mentioned below.

  1. Open the Files app.
  2. Open the directory location containing the file/folder.
  3. Tap Select on the top right corner.
  4. Now select the files/folders that you wish to compress.
  5. Tap the three dots at the bottom right corner.
  6. Tap the Compress option.
  7. The zipped file is now created and visible in the same directory as the selected files

However, if you want to zip the photos on your iOS device, then they cannot be zipped directly from the location they are stored in unless they are saved on the Files app.

The additional steps you need to follow before you can zip the photos are as mentioned below:

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. By tapping the Select option on the top right corner, choose the Photos you wish to zip.
  3. Tap the share icon at the bottom and choose the Save to files option
  4. Provide a name to the new folder and tap Done.
  5. Now choose the folder just created and tap Save.

Now that we have all the photos to be zipped, saved into a folder, this folder can now be opened in the Files app. You can now go back to the steps as mentioned above to zip files/folders using the Files app and there you go!! Your photos can now be easily zipped.

How To Open A ZIP File

As we have seen above, the support of zipped files is a built-in utility in the case of Windows and Mac operating systems. Similarly, we also do not need any external software to open a zipped file as well.

Let us now see how we can open a zipped file in various operating systems.

Open A ZIP File On Windows (Extracting All Files Using Compress Utility)

Earlier in this article, we have created a zipped folder Work1 on our Windows operating system. Let us now try to open the same zipped folder Work1.

Please follow the steps mentioned below:

#1) Open File Explorer and navigate to the folder location that contains the zipped folder. In our case, the location is This PC > Desktop > Work Record.

location that contains the zipped folder.

#2) Select and then right-click the zipped folder Work1 to open the pop-up menu.

right-click to open the pop-up menu

#3) Click Extract All from the pop-menu.

Click extract All

#4) A pop-up window, as seen below, comes up. By default, it shows a default location where the files will be saved after extraction. This is the same location as the zipped folder and with the same name as the zipped folder. In our case below, a new folder “Work1” would be created at location This PC > Desktop > Work Record. This would contain the 3 unzipped files.

This location can however be altered by selecting the desired location using the BROWSE button.

Select desired location using the BROWSE button

#5) When we have entered the desired location and the checkbox for ‘Show extracted files when complete’  is selected, click the Extract button.

Click the extract button

#6) Finally, folder Work1 containing our extracted files Work1, Work2, Work3 is created.

Open A ZIP File On Windows (Extracting Selected Files Using Compress Utility)

At the beginning of the article, we have read that a ZIP utility also provides us with the benefit of unzipping selected files from a zipped folder. This topic lists the steps on how we can extract one or more selected files from a zipped folder as per requirement. There is no compulsion that we need to extract all the files from a zipped folder when we may need just one selected file from it.

When we double click a zipped folder, we can see all the files that it contains. Any selected file from these can be opened too. However, one important thing to note here is that such a file when opened, opens in a read-only mode and you will not be able to make any changes to it unless you have unzipped it.

Using the same example of zipped folder Work1, we will see how we can extract just one file Work3 from it. Let us now try to open the same zipped folder Work1.

Please follow the steps mentioned below:

#1) Open File Explorer and navigate to the folder location that contains our zipped folder Work1. In our case, the location is This PC > Desktop > Work Record.

Select zipped folder Work1

#2) Double-click the zipped folder Work1. Now you can see the files that this zipped folder contains.

files that this zipped folder contains

#3) Select the file or files you want to extract, it is Work3 in our case. Now right-click on the Work3 and click Cut.

Right-click on the Work3 and click Cut

#4) Navigate to the location where you wish to place this unzipped file. Let us paste it at the location, This PC > Desktop > Unzipped folder.

Paste it at the location

#5) Now right-click and select Paste.

Right-click and select Paste

#6) This file Work3 pasted here is now an unzipped file that can be opened and modified.

Work3 can be opened and modified

Open A ZIP File On Mac OS Using Archive Utility

As already mentioned above, the Mac operating system has Apple’s Archive Utility tool that enables the decompressing of archive formats like ZIP, GZIP, TAR, etc. So just like Windows OS, we do not need to have any external software to unzip a file/folder on a computer with Mac OS.

Unzipping a zipped file/folder on a computer with Mac OS is a pretty simple task. Please read the steps below:

  • Double click the zipped file/folder.
  • An unzipped file/folder is created at the same folder the compressed file is in.

Wasn’t it pretty simple!!

Open A ZIP File On Android Using WINZIP

Similar to creating a zip on Android, you can also unzip files using WINZIP available for Android. Let us unzip the zipped folder named “My zipped files” we created earlier. You have two options either to unzip the entire folder or just to open an individual file. We shall take a look at both.

With WINZIP downloaded on your mobile, follow the steps below:

  1. Open WinZip and go to the folder where the zipped folder “My zipped files” is located.
  2. Long press the folder to select the folder and get the menus at the bottom.
  3. Tap the unzip option to unzip.
  4. If you want to open a particular file then tap open the folder “My zipped files” and the folder opens to show the files it contains.
  5. Any individual file needed to be opened can be tapped open.

Open A ZIP File On iOS Using Built-in Utility

As already mentioned above iOS 13 onwards, Files app allows iPhone users to unzip files without the need for any third-party app.

Follow the steps below to unzip your files/folders:

  1. On your iOS device open the Files app.
  2. Locate the Zip file you want to open.
  3. Tap the File and it gets extracted at the same location.
  4. In the case of opening a folder, long press it and choose “Uncompress.”

Difference Between RAR And ZIP File Format

Although ZIP is the most widely used archive file format, however, there are a variety of other file archive file formats available too. The other file format that you may often come across with, is the RAR file format.

We have an article separately covering the RAR file format and you can know the differences between the two file formats here

Frequently Asked Questions

Q #1) How do I open zip files on my iPad pro?

Answer: Follow these steps to open zip files:

  • Launch the Files app on your iPad.
  • Locate the zipped file and select it.
  • On the top right corner, click the icon having an upward pointing arrow.Pointing arrow
  • Tap Save to Files option.

Q #2) How do you compress files on iPhone?

Answer: To compress files on the iPhone follow the steps below:

  • Open the Files app.
  • Navigate to the location containing the files.
  • Tap Select on the top right corner.
  • Now select the files/folders that you wish to compress.
  • Tap the three dots at the bottom right corner.
  • Tap the Compress option.
  • The zipped file is now created and visible in the same directory as the selected files.

Q #3) Why can’t I open zip files on my Windows machine?

Answer: The reason for this issue could be that your zip file is corrupted, which may happen at times. No external software is needed to open zipped files on the Windows machine because, since in the Microsoft Windows version released in 1998, built-in support is provided for opening zipped files and you do not need any for it.

Q #4) Does Windows 10 come with WinZip?

Answer: No. although Windows 10 has built-in support to compress and un-compress files/folders, however, WinZip is not a part of Windows 10 by default. To use WinZip on Windows 10, it has to be installed as an external software.

Q #5) Which is the best file compression software?

Answer: The most popular and commonly used file compression software are: WINZIP, WINRAR, 7-Zip.

Conclusion

Hope you now have a better understanding of the ZIP file format. In this article, we briefly covered – who created the ZIP format and what are its features. The article also explained in detail how we can ZIP and unzip files on the most commonly used operating systems.