How to Unzip Zipped Files in Windows 7

ZIP files compact and bundle other files, making them a common tool for email attachments and online sharing, but before using the files in a zipped file, you need to extract them. Windows 7 includes a zipping and unzipping utility that opens automatically when you open a ZIP file. Even though the utility resembles a Windows folder, you usually shouldn't open a ZIP file's contents directly from the ZIP -- extract its contents first, either by dragging individual items out of the ZIP file or by unzipping the entire package.

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Extracting files does not erase them from the ZIP file.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Step

Double-click the ZIP file in Windows Explorer to open it using Windows 7's built-in extraction utility. ZIP file icons display a folder with a zipper, and if you have your window set to the Details view, ZIP files list their type as "Compressed (zipped) Folder."

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Open the ZIP file.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft
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Press "Extract All Files."
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Step

Click "Extract All Files" at the top of the window. If your ZIP file contains any password-protected files -- identified in the Password Protected column in the Details view -- you need the file creator's password to extract these files.

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Choose a directory and begin extraction.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Step

Select a folder into which to extract the ZIP file's contents. By default, Windows uses the folder that contains the ZIP file itself. If you want Windows to automatically open the selected folder in a new window, check "Show Extracted Files When Complete." Press "Extract" to unpack the ZIP file.

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Enter the password.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Step

Enter the ZIP file's password and click "OK," if prompted, to extract password-protected files. If you don't know the password, press "Skip File" to extract only the unprotected files, or press "Cancel" and return later with the password.

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Extract individual files.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Step

Drag one or more files from the ZIP file's window into another folder to extract individual files, instead of using the "Extract All Files" button in cases where you don't want to extract every file. If any of the selected files are password-protected, you still need to provide the password to extract them.