How to Compress Files to a ZIP Archive in Windows

Learn how to zip a file

Man using laptop on a sofa in an office

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"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.

Learn how to create a .ZIP file in Windows.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

01
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Find the Files You Want to Make Into a ZIP File

Screenshot of files in File Explorer

Using File 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.

Pressing Windows Key + E will open the Windows File Explorer.

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. 

02
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Select the Files to Zip

Screenshot of selected files

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 them. 

If they are not in a single location, press and hold the left mouse button and drag over all the objects you want to select. The items you've selected will have a light-blue box around them, as seen here.

Alternatively, press and hold the Ctrl key while selecting the files you want to zip.

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.

03
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Send the Files to a ZIP Archive

Screenshot of Send to > Zipped folder

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.

04
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Name the New Zip File

Screenshot of ZIP folder with default name

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.