Can I Make Zip Files Smaller?

A ZIP file is a type of archive format. This means that a ZIP file stores a number of files inside it that are compressed into a single file. The reason to do this generally involves easier file transfer such as through email. But sometimes the ZIP file you have may not be small enough. The reason for this could be that you need to transfer a ZIP file to a blank disc or USB drive of a certain size, and the ZIP file you have is too large to fit on that drive and needs to be made smaller. Fortunately, there are a few different ways to make your ZIP file even smaller than with the standard method.

Girl looks in the laptop from the couch
credit: Sharlotta/iStock/Getty Images

Definition and Programs

You usually compress files into ZIP archives using a compression tool. Two examples of such a tool are WinZIp and WinRar. WinZip is the most popular compression tool for zipping files. You can download the program for free, but there is a limited trial period, after which you have to buy the software. WinRar has expanded options if you buy it after downloading, but it's possible to keep using the program without buying it, unlike with WinZip.

Internal Archives

One option for making a ZIP file smaller is by zipping each of the individual files, and then zipping all of these new ZIP files into one larger ZIP file. If you archive your files this way, it should reduce the size of the outer ZIP file and make it easier to send or store. You can do this with an archive tool like WinRar. After you install this program, it should be possible to zip just about any file with the program by simply right-clicking on the file in question and choosing the WinRar compress option. Another possiblitiy is right clicking on your desktop and choosing "New" and then "New compressed (zip) folder" to put your file in.

Higher Compression

You can also unzip the files, and then zip them into a new ZIP archive, only this time at a higher compressed rate. Archive tools such as WinRar and WinZip usually include an option for increasing the compression rate. These programs have various options for how compressed the end file will be, and you simply choose the option for the compression rate you want before you begin encoding the files into a ZIP format.

Different Compression Methods

You can also take the ZIP file and encode that file into a format that naturally has a very high compression rate itself. An example would be a 7z file. You compress these files with the program 7-Zip, and use the 7-ZIp program to decompress them later. This can greatly reduce the end size of your file, but you'll need both 7-Zip and WinZip to open the file at a later date.


When making your ZIP file smaller, and choosing the method you want to do this, you should consider a few things. Exactly how small you need the file to be is one such consideration. If you need the file to be only a little smaller to fit on a certain medium such as a CD, then a minor compression method will be sufficient. But if you need it to be significantly smaller, you will need a more severe measure. Another consideration is how easily you will want to open the files later. If you compress with two different kinds of archive programs, then you will likely need both of those program to open the file later.