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How to zip or unzip files on Windows 11

Windows 11 zip and unzip files
Windows 11 zip and unzip files (Image credit: Windows Central)

On Windows 11, Windows 10, and other platforms, "zip" is perhaps one of the most common containers to compress files. Usually, you would use zip support to archive non-essential files, compress files to save space on the hard drive, or send pictures and documents over the internet through an email service. This file format is also typically the container of choice to share files (such as applications and documents) on the web or through File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers.

Although you can always rely on third-party tools, Windows 11 ships with native support to zip and unzip files quickly.

In this Windows 11 guide, we will walk you through the steps to use the native compression support to zipping and unzip files on your computer.

How to zip files on Windows 11

To zip files on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Open the folder location with the files to compress.
  3. Click the New menu button from the command bar and select the Compressed (zipped) Folder option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Create a name for the zip folder and press Enter.
  2. Select the files and folders to zip.
  3. Right-click the selection and choose the Cut option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Double-click the newly created zip folder.
  2. Click the Paste button from the command bar.Quick tip: You can also select items and click the Delete button in the command bar to remove from the compressed folder.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Once you complete the steps, you will end up in the .zip container that includes all the compressed files, which you can keep on your computer or share with other people.

Alternatively, it's possible to select the files and folders, right-click the selection, and choose the Compress to ZIP file option. Or you can also drag and drop the items into the zip file to compress them.

Share zipped folder

After compressing the files, you can share the contents with nearby devices or by email, and here's how:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Open the folder with the zipped folder.
  3. Select the .zip folder and click the Share button from the command bar.
  4. Select the device to share the file with Nearby sharing.
  5. Select the contact or the email client application to send the zipped folder by email.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Continue with the on-screen directions to send the zipped folder.

Once you complete the steps, the recipient will be able to use the steps below to extract the files.

How to unzip files on Windows 11

Windows 11 includes support for zipping natively, which means that you can double-click the zipped folder to access its content. However, you will need to extract the files if you want to modify their contents or if it's an application you wish to install.

You can use two ways to unzip files. You can extract all the contents or unzip only the files you need.

Extract all wizard

To extract all the files from the .zip folder, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Open the folder with the zipped folder.
  3. Select the .zip folder.
  4. Click the Extract all button from the command bar.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. (Optional) Click the Browse button to select the location to store the extracted files.Quick note: By default, the wizard will extract the files in the same location as the .zip folder.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Check the Show extracted files when complete option.
  2. Click the Extract button.

After you complete the steps, the folder with all the extracted files should open automatically on the screen.

Extract files individually

To unzip individual files on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Open the folder with the zipped folder.
  3. Double-click the .zip folder.
  4. Select the files to extract.
  5. Click the Cut option from the command bar.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Open the location to extract the files.
  2. Click the Paste option from the command bar.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Once you complete the steps, you may need to repeat the steps to extract other files.

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.