Need to zip files in Windows 10? It’s easy — and no new software is required

If sharing large photos or video files is part of your daily workflow, you know that file compression is a big part of the process. For instance, if you want to email a large batch of photographs captured during a trip, sending all those files as they are may take a long time to transmit and receive. Plus, the photos will eat up precious space in your outbound box as well as the recipient’s inbox. The same goes if you’re using a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive.

In the old days, you were forced to rely on third-party software to compress and un-compress files. You can still use those programs today, but Microsoft baked file compression capability into Windows back in 1998. While Windows 10 (as well as MacOS and ChromeOS) has you covered for ZIP compression, you’ll have to turn to third-party software for file compression formats such as RAR and 7z.

Unpacking a ZIP file is extremely easy, but packing a ZIP-based suitcase for your files isn’t quite as obvious. We’ll first show you how to compress a file in Windows 10, followed by an entire folder. After that, we will demonstrate how to unpack a ZIP file, so that you can get access to the uncompressed files again. Let’s get started!

ZIP a single file

How to zip a file in Windows 10

You’ll want to use this method if a single file is extremely large, such as video shot with a smartphone or digital camera.

  1. Locate File Explorer on the Windows 10 taskbar (the folder icon).
  2. Locate the file you want to compress.
  3. Right-click on the file.
  4. Select Send to on the menu.
  5. Select Compressed (zipped) folder in the next menu.
  6. Rename your new ZIP file, and press the Enter key.

ZIP multiple files

How to zip a file in Windows 10

This method is handy for cramming multiple files together, for both size and organizational reasons. This is smart idea when you’re sending files, and also just to keep files together to free up disk space.

  1. Locate File Explorer on the Windows 10 taskbar (the folder icon).
  2. Locate the files you want to add to a single ZIP file.
  3. Select all files by holding down the mouse button and dragging the pointer across the screen. Your mouse will create a blue selection box. All files within this box are highlighted with a light blue color.
  4. Release the mouse button and right-click on the light blue highlighted files.
  5. Select Send to on the menu.
  6. Select Compressed (zipped) folder in the next menu.
  7. Rename your new ZIP file, and press the Enter key.

ZIP an entire folder

How to zip a file in Windows 10

If you want multiple files in a single folder, this is the method you choose. When unpacked, all files will unload in a folder created during the compression process.

  1. Locate File Explorer on the Windows 10 taskbar (the folder icon).
  2. Locate the folder you want to add to a single ZIP file.
  3. Right-click on the folder.
  4. Select Send to on the menu.
  5. Select Compressed (zipped) folder in the next menu.
  6. Rename your new ZIP file and press the Enter key.

Finally, let’s demonstrate how you can unpack a ZIP file in Windows 10.

Unpack a ZIP file

How to zip a file in Windows 10

Zipping files is only helpful if you can extract them as well. Windows 10 uses an algorithm to scan your file, temporarily remove all repetitive information, and create a new file with a smaller size and a new file extension: ZIP. To revert the file back to its former state, Windows 10 scans the file to see what was removed, and inserts the repetitive information back into the file. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Locate File Explorer on the Windows 10 taskbar (the folder icon).
  2. Locate the file you want to decompress.
  3. Right-click on the file.
  4. Select Extract all on the menu.
  5. On the next pop-up screen, select where you want Windows 10 to unload the files.
  6. Once you choose a location, click the Select Folder
  7. Finally, click the Extract button.