Zipping is the process of compressing one or more files into a single, smaller file identified by the .zip file extension. As a result, storing and transferring multiple files/folders becomes very convenient.

To access and use the files inside the zipped folder, you will have to unzip them. Unzipping is like expanding the zipped folder to reveal it's contents. You can use third-party apps to achieve this but Windows 11 comes with its built-in utility to help with that.

In this guide, you will see how to zip and unzip files in Windows 11.

Note: The Windows built-in zip utility can decompress several file formats but only compress files to .zip file extension, if you want to compress to other file extensions, you will have to use third-party apps such as WinRAR or 7-Zip

How to zip (Compress) files in Windows 11

Before we unzip, let's compress some files and then decompress them later. Follow the steps below to compress your files.

Locate the files you want to zip. For this demo, I have 5 files on my desktop.

Highlight the files you want to zip then right-click to display the context menu.

On this context menu, Select Compress to Zip file.

This will bundle up those files into a zip folder. The name of the zipped file is picked randomly from the files inside but you can rename it if you wish.

Viewing what's inside a ZIP file

After zipping your files, you can confirm that they've been compressed successfully by double-clicking on the zipped file. This will open a new window showing the contents of the zipped file.

Keep in mind that when zipped, the files are not fully usable even though you can open them. If you try to make edits to those files before they are unzipped, the changes will not reflect. You will even get an error message in some cases. We'll have to unzip those files to make them fully usable. Let's see how.

Unzip a single file in Windows 11

In case you need one file from the zipped folder, double-click on the zipped folder to view its contents.

On this window, Select the file you want to decompress and drag it to the location of your choosing. In my case, I drag it to the desktop. While dragging, notice it says Copy to Desktop. After seeing that message, you can let go and the file will be extracted to the desktop. You can then make changes to the file as you please.

Unzip all files in Windows 11

Method 1

To unzip all the files in a zipped folder, you can use the method above but this time round select all the files and drag them to your desired location.

After dragging the files to the desktop, they should be decompressed and you can then edit the files as you please.

Method 2

Alternatively, You can right-click on the zipped folder and then select Extract All to open the zip wizard.

You can also find the Extract All option in the file explorer as shown below. Whichever you use, it should open the zip wizard.

The wizard will prompt you for the location to extract the files. By default, the files will be extracted to the location where the zip file is located. You can change that by selecting browse.

When satisfied with the location, click on Extract to proceed with the decompression. The files will be extracted to the location you chose if you changed the default location.

Depending on the size of the files being extracted, the decompression time will vary.

Method 3

The third method is to use third-party apps such as 7-ZIP or WinRAR. Head to their official sites, download the software, and install it. Follow their documentation to use those third-party apps.


This article explains how to compress and decompress files in Windows 11 to save space and make it easy to transfer your files when needed. Windows comes with a built-in zipper that makes it easy to unzip files of different formats. The only downside is you can only zip the files in one format .zip. If that is enough for you then you don't need any third-party app. Share the article if you found it helpful.

Thank you for reading : )

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