Zipping and Unzipping Files and Folders

This document was produced by Liz Thackray

Zipping is a way of compressing files and folders so they take up less space. It is very useful to be able to zip files and folders; it reduces upload and download times when sending files as email attachments. If a folder contains many files and subfolders, the whole folder can be zipped into a single file, ensuring the file structure is not lost when it gets to the recipient. This can be very useful for sending web-sites, programs and databases in process of development.

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Getting the Software

The software most commonly used for zipping and unzipping files and folders is Winzip®. There are other products available such as Zipmagic and PKZip, but these notes assume the use of Winzip®. Winzip® is a shareware product.  This means that once you have used it for a specified number of days, a screen appears telling you that your evaluation period is used up and you should register the product and pay a small charge. Winzip® is frequently found on magazine disks and can also be downloaded from

To download the software, simply follow the instructions on the website. You will download a self-extracting installation program. Simply click on it and install in the normal way and install in the suggested default folder.

The screenshots here are taken from version 7, but do not vary greatly from other versions.  Two methods for zipping and unzipping are described - try them both and see which you find suits you best.

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Unzipping a zipped file (Method 1)

Step 1. Move the zip file to the folder you wish it to end up in, using My Computer or Windows Explorer.
Step2. Right click on the zipped folder. A menu appears which includes the options to extract to a location of your choice or to extract to a suggested default location. Choose the default location and write it down in case you forget.
Step 3. The zipfile will be unzipped and you can access the folder in the usual way. (If you wish you can now delete the zipfile.)

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Unzipping a zipped file (Method 2)

Step 1. Double click on the zipped file. Winzip® will open automatically. You will be able to see all the files inside the zip.
Step 2. Click on Extract on the toolbar at the top and a window will pop up where you can choose which folder to use to send the file(s) to. If you need to, you can make a new folder by clicking on the New Folder button.  Otherwise, choose the folder you want and make sure its listed in the Extract to box.
Step 3. If you want to extract all the files, make sure Select all files is marked, then click on the Extract button. If you only want to extract some of the files, highlight them in the Winzip® window, and Selected Files button will be marked instead.
Step 4. Close Winzip® and open the folder where you sent the files and open them in the usual way.

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Zipping (Method 1)

Step 1. Either Find the folder you wish to zip using either My Computer or Windows Explorer, or create a new folder and copy the file(s) you wish to zip to the folder.
Step 2. Right click on the folder and a menu appears which includes an option to Add to Click on this and Winzip will open. Click 'I agree' on the opening screen and Winzip will zip the folder, including any included subfolders and files into a single zipfile.


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Zipping (Method 2)

Step 1. Open Winzip®

Step 2. Choose New from the icon toolbar

Step 3. Using the popup window give the new zip file a name and choose where (which folder) you want to store it.

Step 4. Click OK



Step 5. The Add window then pops up

Step 6. Choose the files you want to add, highlight them, and then click add, you can highlight a group of files or do it separately.

Step 7. The Winzip® window appears showing your file/files which are now inside the zip.

Step 8. Exit and that’s all.



One thing – the zipping process takes a copy of the files it doesn’t delete the originals from your hard disk.

You can also add files to your zipped file it by dragging and dropping them on the zip you have created.