How to Compress Files to a ZIP Archive in Windows

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Why You Might Want to Make a ZIP File

Windows 10

Have you ever wanted to send a group of files through email but didn't want to send each one separately as a new attachment? Another reason to make a ZIP file is to have a single place to back up all of your files, like your pictures or documents.

"Zipping" in Windows is when you combine multiple files into a single file-like folder with the .ZIP file extension. It opens like a folder but acts like a file in that it's just a single item. It also compresses files to save on disk space.

A ZIP file makes it really easy for the recipient to gather the files together and open them for viewing. Instead of fishing around an email for all the attachments, they can open a single file that puts all of the relevant information together.

Similarly, if you've backed up your documents to a ZIP file, you can know for sure that all of them are right there in that one .ZIP archive and not spread about in several other folders.

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Find the Files You Want to Make Into a ZIP File

Find the Files You Want Zipped.

Using Windows Explorer, navigate to where your files and/or folders are that you want to make into a ZIP file. This can be anywhere on your computer, including external and internal hard drives.

Don't worry if your files are in separate folders that aren't easy to gather together. You can fix that later once you make the ZIP file. 

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Select the Files to Zip

You can select some or all of the files in a folder to zip.

Before you can zip anything you have to select the files you want to compress. If you want to zip all the files in a single location, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+A to select all of it. 

The other option is to use a "marquee," which means holding down the left mouse button and dragging the mouse over all the objects you want to select. The items you've selected will have a light-blue box around them, as seen here.

As if that wasn't enough, there is another method for selecting a set of files as long as all the files you want to select are sitting right next to each other. If that's the case, select the first file, hold down the Shift button on your keyboard, hover over the last item you want to include, click on it, and release the button.

This will automatically select every file sitting between the two items that you clicked. Once again, all your selected items will be highlighted with a light-blue box.

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Send the Files to a ZIP Archive

A series of pop-up menus gets you to the "zip" option.

Once your files are selected, right-click on one of them to see a menu of options. Choose the one called Send to, and then Compressed (zipped) folder.

If you're sending all the files in a particular folder, another option is to just select the entire folder. For example, if the folder is Documents > Email items > Stuff to send, you can go into the Email items folder and right-click Stuff to send to make the ZIP file.

If you want to add more files to the archive after the ZIP file has already been made, just drag the files right on top of the ZIP file and they'll be added automatically.

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Name the New Zip File

You can keep the default name Windows 7 adds, or pick one of your own that's more descriptive.

Once you zip the files, a new folder appears next to the original collection with a big zipper on it, indicating that it's been zipped. It will automatically use the file the name of the last file you zipped (or the name of the folder if you zipped at the folder level).

You can leave the name as it is or change it to whatever you like. Right-click the ZIP file and choose Rename.

Now the file is ready to send to someone else, back up on another hard drive or stash in your favorite cloud storage service. One of the best uses of zipping files is to compress big graphics to send through email, upload to a website, and so on. It's a very handy feature in Windows, and one you should get to know.