How to Open, Edit, and Convert LZH Files

Learn about this compressed file type primarily used in Japan

What to Know

  • An LZH file is an LZH compressed file.
  • Open an LZH file with 7-Zip, PeaZip, or some other file unzip tool.
  • Convert the files inside the archive with a file converter.

This article explains what an LZH file is and how to open or convert one.

What Is an LZH File?

The LZH file extension indicates a file that has been compressed with the Lempel-Ziv and Haruyasu algorithm (LZH), which are the names of the algorithm's inventors.

The format is popular in Japan, but not really anywhere else. It's been used to compress video game installation files, like those in id Software's Doom and Quake, as well as used as the archive format in the Amiga computer.

LZH files are like other compression formats (e.g., ZIP, 7Z, RAR) in that their purpose is twofold: reduce the size of files and hold multiple files together in one single archive.

This format has basically replaced the original LHARC Compressed Archive (.LHA) format—previously named LHarc and then LH—that it was originally based on.

How to Open an LZH File

Japanese versions of the Windows operating system include an add-on to natively support LZH files without having to use any extra software. But if you're running a non-Japanese version, you can still open the LZH file using third-party software.

We know of several programs that can do this. Our favorites are 7-Zip and PeaZip, (which both also support the LHA format), but there are others out there, too.

You should also be able to open one on non-Japanese Windows installs without these programs, so long as you install the add-on called Microsoft Compressed (LZH) Folder Add-on. You can get this through Windows Update with the Japanese language pack, but you must be using an Enterprise or Ultimate version of Windows 7 to do this.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the file, but it's the wrong application or you'd rather have another installed program open it, you can change the default program that opens LZH files.

How to Convert an LZH File

It's rarely a necessary task to convert an archive file format like LZH to another type of archive because it's unlikely that you want to save the actual archive, as a whole, to another format. It's more likely that there's a file inside the archive that you want to be in a different format.

Maybe there are some PDFs inside in, for example, in which case converting the entire LZH file to some other archive format wouldn't accomplish much. What you'd want to do instead is extract the PDFs out of the archive and then convert those files. In this instance, you'd use a document file converter, but other types exist, too, for videos, images, etc.

However, we do know of a couple converters that can save the LZH file to a similar format like ZIP, 7Z, CAB, TAR, YZ1, GZIP, BZIP2, TBZ, etc. Just remember that doing this does not convert the files inside (which is likely what you want to do), but instead just converts the archive file itself.

FileZigZag and Zamzar are two online file converters that can do this. With these tools, you have to first upload the file to one of those websites before you can convert it, after which you have to then download the file back to your computer before you can use it.

For an offline option, consider Filestar. It'll save the archive to 7Z, TAR, WIM, ZIP, and several other formats.

Still Can't Open It?

Remember that in order to access a file inside the archive, you have to extract it out first. Most image viewers, for example, don't let you open a JPG file if it's inside an LZH file. To make it work, you need to get the image out of the archive first so that it's by itself. It's only then that your average image file opener will recognize the format.

The next likely reason for why you can't open it is because you're mixing it up with another file that uses a similar file extension. There are several examples of this with all kinds of files, not just ones that end with LZH. When you try this, you'll get an error because the program you're trying to use isn't compatible with that specific file format.

For example, LHZD is an extension that looks similar, but it's actually reserved for Live Home 3D compressed project files. In this case, you need Live Home 3D installed on your computer before that file will open.

Another example is the Need for Speed game data archive format. These files end in LZC, and while they are archives, you probably need a very specific app to open them, like SpeedReflect Binary.

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