How do I Unzip a File?

In order to work with zipped files, they must be unzipped or extracted first. Windows has a built in program called Windows Compressed Folders which can do this for you. If you have installed a zip program, such as WinZip* or 7-Zip*, Windows Compressed Folders may not be easily available on your computer. If you follow the instructions below for Windows Compressed Folders, but a different program opens, you can still follow the instructions listed, and it should generally still work.

- Unzipping a file with Windows Compressed Folders

  1. This tutorial assumes you can see file extensions, which unfortunately is not the default for Windows installations. To show these file extensions, see Microsoft's documentation for Vista orXP. If you don't or can't show file extensions, you can still use the file icon to determine file type.
  2. Find the zipped file that you want to unzip in Windows Explorer. In this example, I'm showing, in the folder C:data. Windows XP is shown here, but Windows Vista works in the same way:

    Note that the file extension is .zip for zipped file.
  3. Next, double-click the zipped file. This opens up the zipped file so that you can see the files that are inside it. With the above analogy of a set of books on a bookshelf, you are now seeing the book spines on the shelf:

    Notice the address bar now says that you are in a folder with a .zip extension and shows a zipped file icon as well. The file inside this zipped file is shown as a normal unzipped file. In this case, it's an .mdb file or Microsoft database. Do not double-click this file to open it when inside a zipped folder. That's like trying to read a book before taking it off the shelf.This step is the step that confuses a lot of people. This appears to be a normal folder on your computer, but in fact, you are within a single zipped file.
  4. Single-click the file(s) and/or folder(s) you want to unzip. If you want to select all files and folders (even if there is only one) in the .zip file, press Ctrl-A on your keyboard:

    Notice that the files are now selected. In the above screenshot, a blue background shows that a file is selected. The background for selected files could be a different color on your computer.
  5. Now, copy the file(s) by pressing Ctrl-C on your keyboard.
  6. Then, click the "back" button to return to the previous folder:
  7. Now you are in the original folder, which is not a zipped file (in this case, C:data):
  8. Lastly, paste the file(s) into this folder by pressing Ctrl-V on your keyboard. This copies the files as unzipped files into the folder you are currently viewing:

    This may take a few minutes or longer for large files.
  9. When the file has completed copying, both the .zip file and the unzipped file(s) are in the same folder. You can use the .zip file as a backup copy or delete it. You can now work with the unzipped files. In the above analogy, you have pulled book(s) off the shelf and can read them. Enjoy!

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