How to Password Protect a ZIP file in Windows

Although Windows 7 and 8.1 can create archives natively, they do not ship with an application that can protect and archive a password. To add a password to a ZIP archive, use any of the three most popular archiving utilities: 7-Zip, WinRAR or WinZip. You can unzip the archive on another computer using an archiving utility.

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WinRAR, WinZip and 7-Zip prompting for the archive password.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Using 7-Zip

Step

Download and install 7-Zip and then open the File Explorer in Windows 8.1 by pressing Windows-X to expand the Power User Menu and selecting File Explorer.

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The Power User menu in Windows 8.1.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft
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Selecting several files in a folder in Windows 8.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Step

Select the folder that contains the files you want to add to the archive and then select the files. To select everything in a folder, press Ctrl-A. To select only a few specific files, hold Ctrl and click each item.

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The 7-Zip and Add To Archive options in the context menu.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Step

Right-click any of the selected files, select 7-Zip and then click Add to archive to display the Add to Archive dialog.

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Changing the archive name and format in 7-Zip.
credit: Image courtesy of 7-Zip

Step

Type a name for the archive into the Archive field and then select ZIP from the Archive format box.

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Optionally, change the compression level and method before creating the archive. Compression levels and methods affect the size of the resulting archive.

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Typing and confirming the password and changing the encryption in 7-Zip.
credit: Image courtesy of 7-Zip

Step

Type the password into the Enter password and Reenter password fields. To see the password as you type it, check the Show Password box.

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Select the strongest encryption method -- AES-256 -- from the Encryption method box.

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Change the destination folder and then click OK to confirm.
credit: Image courtesy of 7-Zip

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Optionally, change the destination folder by clicking the ... button and selecting a different folder. By default, the archive is stored in the folder that contains the files you want to archive. Click OK to create the password-protected archive.

Using WinRAR

Step

Download and install WinRAR on your Windows 7 or 8.1 computer and then launch the archiving utility.

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Select the correct folder in the Address bar in WinRAR.
credit: Image courtesy of WinRAR

Step

Select the folder that contains the files you want to protect using the Address bar near the top of the window.

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Selecting the files and then clicking the Add button.
credit: Image courtesy of RARLab

Step

Select the files you want to add to the archive. To select everything in the folder, press Ctrl-A. Select only a few files and folder by holding Ctrl and clicking each item. Click the Add button to display the Archive Name and Parameters dialog.

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Changing the archive name, selecting the ZIP option and then clicking the Set Password button.
credit: Image courtesy of RARLab

Step

Change the name of the archive from the Archive name field and click the ZIP radio button in the Archive Format section to create a ZIP file. Click the Set Password button.

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Optionally, change the compression method from the Compression Method drop-down box and select different options -- such as automatically deleting files after archiving, or testing the archived files -- from the Archiving Options section.

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Typing the password and then clicking the OK button.
credit: Image courtesy of RARLab

Step

Type the password into the Enter password and Reenter password... fields. To see the password as you type, check the Show password box. Click OK.

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The Browse and OK buttons.
credit: Image courtesy of RARLab

Step

Optionally, change the destination folder by clicking the Browse button and then selecting a different folder. Click OK to create the archive.

Using WinZip

Step

Download and install WinZip and then launch it on your Windows 7 or 8.1 computer.

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Selecting some files in File Explorer.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Step

Open the File Explorer and open the folder that contains the files you want to archive. Press Ctrl-A to select everything in the folder or hold Ctrl and click each item to select only a few files or folders.

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The Add To Zip File option in the context menu.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Step

Right-click one of the selected files, select WinZip and then click Add to Zip file to display the Add Files dialog box.

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Changing the file name and compression type, and enabling the Encrypt Files box.
credit: Image courtesy of WinZip Computing

Step

Change the name of the ZIP file from the File Name field and select a compression type -- ZIP or ZIPX -- from the Compression Type section. Check the Encrypt files box.

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The Encryption settings and the OK button.
credit: Image courtesy of WinZip Computing

Step

Click the > icon in the Encryption section and select the best encryption method -- 256-bit AES. Click OK.

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The Add button.
credit: Image courtesy of WinZip Computing

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Optionally, enable and configure any of the options in the Conversions section. Click the Add button

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The Select Folder button.
credit: Image courtesy of WinZip Computing

Step

Pick a destination folder for the archive and then click Select Folder to select it.

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Typing the password into the fields and then clicking OK to create the archive.
credit: Image courtesy of WinZip Computing

Step

Type the password into the Enter password and Re-enter password... fields. The password must be at least eight characters. To see the password as you type, check the Hide the password box. Click OK to create the archive.