How to Compress Files to a ZIP Archive in Windows

Learn how to zip a file

"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 disk space.

Learn how to create a .ZIP file in Windows.

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

  1. Using File Explorer, navigate to where your files or folders that you would like to make into a ZIP file. These files may can anywhere on your computer, including external and internal hard drives.

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

    Screenshot of files in File Explorer
  2. 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.

    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.

    Screenshot of selected files
  3. Once your files are selected, right-click on one of them to reveal an options menu. Select Send toCompressed (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.

    Windows ZIP file
  4. Once you zip the files, a new folder appears next to the original collection with a big zipper on it, indicating that it has been zipped. It will automatically use the name of the last file you zipped.

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

    Screenshot of ZIP folder with default name

    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.