How to Unzip Zipped Files in Windows 7

By Aaron Parson

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.

Step 1

**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."

Step 2

**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.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

**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.

Tips & Warnings

  • Double-click a file inside the ZIP file to open it directly for previewing, but avoid this option for files you need to edit -- if you modify a zipped file without extracting it first, Windows forces you to save your changes as a new file, rather than updating the copy inside the ZIP.
  • To switch to the Details view, right-click a blank area in a folder, point to "View" and choose "Details." After changing the view style in one folder, you can apply that change as the default across Windows: Press "Alt" to show the menu bar, select "Folder Options" from the "Tools" menu, open the "View" tab and press "Apply to Folders."
  • Quickly extract a zipped file by right-clicking the ZIP file, rather than double-clicking it, and then selecting "Extract All."