How to Zip and Unzip Files on a Chromebook

Want to compress multiple files on your Chromebook or open an archive you recently downloaded? It’s easy, as Chrome OS includes an integrated tool to pack and unpack ZIP-based archives. There’s no need for third-party software.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to zip and unzip files on a Chromebook. We’ll also list two free applications designed to add support for even more file types.

Further reading

Create an archive

Since the archive tool is built into Chrome OS, you don’t need to load or find anything except for the files you want to compress. If you simply compress a single file — a huge PSD, for example — the resulting file will have the same name. If you compress multiple files, the archive will automatically save as The built-in tool does not allow you to create and save an archive in a different location than the source file(s).

Step 1: Click the Files icon located on the Shelf. It resembles a folder.

Step 2: Locate the files you want to compress into a zip file.

Step 3: Click and hold your mouse button to draw a box around the files you want to add. To select specific files in a directory, don’t draw a box. Instead, press the Ctrl button while clicking.

Step 4: With your files selected, right-click and select Zip Selection on the pop-up menu.

Chrome OS Zip Selection

Step 5: Right-click on your new archive and rename the file if needed.

Unzip an archive

Unzipping files is fairly easy. The only unusual aspect of Google’s built-in method is that Chrome OS mounts archives like a drive versus opening them like a standalone folder. This is different than how Windows and MacOS handle archives.

Step 1: Double-click on the archive you want to unload. Chrome OS mounts and lists it on the left (see below) in Files.

Step 2:  Select the files you want to extract.

Step 3: Right-click and select Copy on the pop-up menu.

Chrome OS Copy Files from Archive

Step 4: Navigate to the destination where you want to save these files.

Step 5: Right-click and select Paste in the pop-up menu.

Step 6: When done, click the arrow-based Eject icon displayed next to the mounted zip file in Files (see above).

Step 7: Delete the archive if needed.

Alternative methods

Zip Extractor

External tools, like Zip Extractor, can help extract and store zip file contents. Zip Extractor is a web-based Chrome application that manages and keeps files on your Chromebook or Google Drive. When you use Zip Extractor, the tool will automatically sort the unzipped files into folders instead of sorting them as a hard drive would. When you open Zip Extractor, you will be given the option to set it as your default app for working with zipped files.

One bad thing about Zip Extractor is that it’s a web-based application, so if you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network, then you won’t be able to use it. However, as long as you never need it offline, this tool is still an uncomplicated, handy option.

Archive Extractor

Archive Extractor is a Chrome extension that is an ideal choice for decompressing a variety of zipped files. We mean 7-Zip, TAR, DMG, crunch, NSA, and many others. Archive Extractor is capable of supporting password-protected files and multi-faceted archives.

If you regularly use various file types, then Archive Extractor will make everything easier for you.

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How to Make a Zip File on a Mac

Creating zip files on a Mac might seem daunting at first, but you have a few options — and plenty of MacOS and iOS tools — at your disposal. While you may have experience creating a zip file on a Windows-based computer, the process is slightly different on a Mac.

Thanks to this guide, you’ll become a pro at zipping and unzipping files between your Mac, iPad, and iPhone in no time. If you want to secure your zip files with a password, we have a guide for that too.

What is a zip file?

Sending big files can take a long time. Zip files are a way to compress your data to make it more compact and quicker to transfer. Compression can temporarily remove redundancies in the files, which can then be re-created (lossless). Compression can also permanently remove unnecessary bits, albeit at the cost of a perfect replica (lossy). Another popular form of compressed, or archived, data is RAR.

When you download a compressed file, you will need to extract the contents — or “unzip” them — in order to access them.

How to create a zip file on a Mac

Creating a zip file on a Mac is quick and easy, as MacOS includes a built-in tool called Archive Utility for compressing and unzipping files. You don’t need a third-party utility.

Zip a single file

Right-click or press Control + Tap on a file you want to compress and select Compress [File Name] on the pop-up menu.

As shown below, a new zip file appears in the same folder, while the original file remains.

MacOS New Zip File

Zip multiple files

Step 1: Hold down the mouse button or trackpad to draw a box around all the files you want to compress. Alternatively, press the Command button while tapping the trackpad or while clicking the mouse button to select specific files.

Step 2: Right-click or press Control + Tap and select Compress on the pop-up menu.

MacOS Compress Multiple Files

A new, single archive will appear in the folder. As before, the original files remain intact.

Step 3: To rename the default file name, simply right-click or press Control + Tap on the archive and select Rename. This is useful if you need to create multiple zip files or to make it easier for the recipient to know what’s in the archive.

Rename Archive

How to unzip a file

Unzipping a zip file is about as easy as creating one. Simply double-click on the file, and it automatically unzips.

Alternatively, right-click or press Control + Tap on a zip file, hover over Open With on the pop-up menu, and then choose Archive Utility. You can also choose to use a third-party unzipping program, like The Unarchiver, if it’s not set as the default tool.

Mac Open Zip Files Third Party

MacOS will automatically create a new folder containing the decompressed files in the same location as the zip file.

Is compression not working?

Fix Archive Permissions

If you’re unable to compress files, you might need to adjust your file permissions. Try this solution:

Step 1: Right-click or select Control + Tap on the file you want, and choose Get Info from the resulting menu.

Step 2: Click the arrow beside Sharing & Permissions to open this choice, as displayed above.

Step 3: Check that your specific account is set as an administrator and that your permissions are Read & Write or Read Only. Any other settings may prevent you from compressing the file.

If you’re not an administrator, click the Lock button and log in with administrator credentials. Then, switch your permissions to Read & Write or Read Only and try compressing the file once more.

Sending compressed files to iOS/iPadOS

iPadOS Unzip Archive

Swapping files between macOS and iOS devices is tricky but unavoidable. You’ll need to complete a few more steps to uncompress the files on your cellphone or tablet.

Step 1: Click the Files application and locate the file in question.

Step 2: Click and hold the file and choose Uncompress. You’re all done.

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