How to Open Compressed Files

By Tony Breedlove

Compressed files are used a lot now, especially over the Internet. Compressing a file often makes it much smaller, which saves download time and reduces traffic on the Internet. Compressed files are also called Zip files, Rar files, archived files and other names. There are many compression algorithms and many programs are used to compress files, consequently there are many different file extensions (the end of the file after the ".") such as .tar, .gz, .sfark, .7z, .ace, .arc, .cab, .ice, .pea, .zz, and many others. While all of these file types can be confusing, there is a program that can open all of these compressed files.

Things You'll Need

  • A Windows computer
  • Internet connection

Step 1

Download WinZip ( and install it accepting all of the default settings.

Step 2

Right-click on the compressed file you would like to open and select "Open with WinZip."

Step 3

Choose where you would like the decompressed file to be saved to, and click "Extract."

Step 4

An Explorer window will open to show you where the extracted file is located.

Tips & Warnings

  • Macintosh and Window users can download the Stuffit Expander application to expand compressed files.
  • Some compressed files may contain computer viruses. Make sure your virus protection software is up to date before opening files.

References & Resources