How to Unzip Files on Android Devices

Who needs a computer? Open ZIP files quickly on your mobile device

How to unzip a zip file on Android: Image of a lock and data extracting.

Donald Iain Smith

ZIP files are a popular way of sending multiple files to someone in one tidy, little, digital package. Viewing their contents on an Android smartphone and tablet can be confusing but it is entirely possible and only takes several seconds.

Here's how to unzip a ZIP file on an Android device.

What Are ZIP Files?

Files that use the .zip extension are referred to as ZIP files. ZIP (pronounced as the word "zip") files can be used to compress a file's size and can also be used to bundle many files together for easier sending, uploading, and downloading.

ZIP files are generally used on websites to help visitors download a large number of documents or media at once without having to manually download each file individually.

How to Unzip Files on Android

Unzipping files on an Android tablet or smartphone used to require a special third-party app but it can now be done with the first-party Files by Google app.

Files Go was rebranded as Files by Google in late-2018. If you haven't updated your apps in a while, the app may still be called Files Go on your Android device. It's recommended to update the app before proceeding.

  1. Open Files by Google and locate the ZIP file you want to unzip. If you've downloaded it from a website, it will likely be within the Downloads filter.

    ZIP files always have the .zip extension.

  2. Tap on the ZIP file.

    Screenshots showing how to unzip a ZIP file on Android.
  3. You will be shown a preview of the ZIP file's contents. Tap on the blue Extract button to unzip the file.

  4. Your ZIP file will begin to unzip. Once it's finished, you will be shown a list of all of the unzipped files. Tap on Done.

  5. All of the extracted files will be copied into the same location as the original ZIP file and can be accessed from within the Files by Google app.

Do ZIP Files Work Differently on Smartphones and Tablets?

There is no difference between how ZIP files are managed on Android phones or tablets. ZIP files are compatible with all devices running modern operating systems such as Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows.

Do I Need to Use ZIP Files on Android?

There's very little need to use ZIP files on an Android device, however, many websites and services use the file format to make it easier for their users to download large numbers of documents at once. If you use your Android tablet or mobile phone for business, you will likely encounter many ZIP files and will need to extract, or unzip, their contents to view them.

Do I Need to Use ZIP Files App at All?

The usage of ZIP files really comes down to individual preference. Some people love using them while others find them inconvenient and prefer to be given files directly, unzipped.

Emailing files as attachments is still a reliable way to send media and documents to people. Another way to send someone a file is to upload it to a cloud storage service, such as OneDrive, Google Drive, or Dropbox, and email them the link to the file's location in the cloud.

Sending a contact a file via a chat app like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Line, and WeChat is also very popular and many people prefer to be sent files this way due to its convenience.

What Are Some Popular Unzippers for Android

While opening ZIP files on Android can be done from within the first-party Files by Google app, there are several alternative ZIP file extractor apps for those that want a dedicated solution. One of these apps will also be needed if you ever find yourself wanting to create a ZIP file on your Android smartphone or tablet.

  • ZArchiver: The ZArchiver app is one of the best ZIP file extractor apps on Android as it features an easy-to-use interface, supports over 30 different types of files including ZIP and RAR, and is completely free.
  • WinZip: Easily the most-famous ZIP app, WinZip's official Android app can be used to open and create ZIP files and also supports ZIPX, 7X, RAR, and CBZ file types. Extra features, such as Google Drive support, require a paid upgrade for around one dollar. It's worth noting that WinZip's apps are notoriously glitchy, despite their popularity, and also feature ads.
  • RAR: The RAR Android app can create and extract ZIP and RAR files on any Android device. It can also open TAR, GZ, BZ2, XZ, 7z, ISO, and ARJ files.