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Open ZIP Files : A Tutorial

by Oscar Sodani
May 31, 2006

Oscar Sodani is a founder of Help2Go and owner of Help2Go Networks, an IT consulting firm in the Washington D.C. area. Oscar holds the CISSP certification as well as industry certifications from Microsoft, Cisco and Novell.

This tutorial will show you how to open a zip file in Windows XP.

A zip file is basically many files compressed (zipped) into a single file. This makes it easier to send multiple files over the web or email, since you can zip it into one file and just send that.

A zip file will appear as a folder icon with a zipper on it, like this:

 ZIP File Icon

If you double-click on the ZIP file, it will open up. You will see something like this:

Open Zip File Window 

This is showing you the contents of the zip file you just double-clicked on. In this case, the zip file I opened has an entire folder with files inside!

Now, I want to get this folder and all of the files out of the zip file and onto my desktop. This is called extraction of the zip file. On the left side, you will see an option for Extract All Files. Click on it.

The Windows XP Extraction Wizard will start. This is what you will see:

ZIP file Extraction Wizard 

Click the Next button.

You'll see this next:

Zip file extraction wizard 

The first box tells you where the contents of the ZIP file will be extracted to. In this case, it will extract the folder directly onto my desktop. You can click the Browse... button if you wish, to select a different destination for the files. In the case, I'm just going to leave it on my Desktop so I can find it quickly later.

Click Next.

Zip file extraction complete 

It worked! The ZIP file was opened and the contents were extracted successfully. There is an option on this screen to show the extracted files - this will simply open up a window where you can work with the files that were extracted from the ZIP file (that way you don't have to go looking for it).

Click Finish.

 Opened Zip File Contents

 That's all there is to it! This is the folder that was copied out of the ZIP file. I can work with this folder, and the files within, just like any other file on my computer!

Now you know how to open a ZIP file! This will work with any ZIP file you download or are sent via email. 


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