How to Use the WinZip Basics

How to Use the WinZip Basics

Although the idea of using a file compression program sounds daunting, especially with jargon like archive and compression ratio, it is actually quite easy, particularly if you are using a program like WinZip. WinZip is the industry leader in file compression specializing in the ZIP archive format and just about any other file compression software can read a ZIP file.

Here, we are going to take you through some of the basic functions using the #1 file compression software, WinZip. Here we ll show you how to compress, or  zip  a file, extract a  zipped  file, and walk you through the WinZip Wizard.

First, we ll start with how to compress a file and over the next few weeks, we ll explain extraction and the WinZip Wizard, so be sure to check back as we update our articles.


There are two ways to compress or zip your folders and files: one, directly from the WinZip application, which provides you with the most control; two, from accessing WinZip from Windows Explorer using the right-click feature on your mouse. We ll take you through both options.

Zipping from Classic Interface

1. Find the file you would like to compress. We ve created an example file that includes several common files and document types including Word, PDF, picture and music files. We even included an installation file with the extension .exe.

2. Open WinZip. It will seem like a strange blank screen. Don t worry; it s supposed to look like this.

3. Now that both WinZip and the folder/files you would like to zip are open, simply drag your folder into the blank portion of WinZip s screen and drop. You will be prompted to add your ZIP file to a folder somewhere on your computer.

4. Where it says  add to archive,  select "New" or "Open" to determine where your new ZIP file will go. In the Add Archive screen, you can also change the strength of your compression, split files and encrypt files.

  • NEW: This is if you would like to create a new folder for your ZIP file. Select NEW, set your folder s path (usually somewhere in My Documents or on your desktop), thename your new ZIP file and then click ok.
  • OPEN: This feature is for if you would just like to add your ZIP file to a previously zipped file.

5. After you ve set your paths and folder destination, click  OK.  Your files will be compressed to your designated folder.

6. Once all your files are compressed, they will display in the WinZip screen and show you exactly how much your file was compressed. Our example folder was compressed by 14%.

That s it. You have just finished zipping your first file using the classic interface.

Zipping from Windows Explorer

1. Like step 1 above, locate the folder or files you would like to compress.
2. Right-click on the file you would like to zip and click the function that say s WinZip.

3. Choose which action you would like to perform. For this example, we will choose  Add to WinZip example . Here, WinZip will automatically create a new ZIP file for you just using the name of the folder or file you are compressing. From here, the WinZip Classic interface will launch and automatically start compressing your files.

4. When you file is done compressing, your new ZIP file automatically appears in the same folder your original files were taken from. 

Using WinZip in conjunction with Windows Explorer and using right-click is usually the preferred method.


Extracting or  unzipping  a file is even easier than compressing. And like compressing you can use the WinZip classic interface or Windows Explorer right-click.

UnZipping from Classic Interface

1. Open folder and double click your zipped file. WinZip will have your ZIP file open in the screen. You can also drag and drop your zipped archive into the WinZip interface, or use the  Open  tool on WinZip s menu bar and search for your file through the traditional directory.

2. Once your ZIP file is open in WinZip, choose  Extract  from the menu bar.

3. In the directory box that appears choose where you would like all your unzipped files to go. Here we ve chosen a folder on our desktop called  WinZip Example Extract 

4. Immediately after your file extracts WinZip will open a Window with your extracted folder or files.

There. You ve officially extracted your first archive using WinZip s classic interface.

UnZipping from Windows Explorer

1. Locate and Open the folder containing your ZIP file.
2. Right-click on your ZIP file.
3. Choose the WinZip option and select how you would like to extract your archive.

4. We choose  Extract to here  which will extract your zipped file to the same folder the archive is already located. You can also choose to extract your ZIP to a different folder, or a previously used folder.

There. Your zipped file is now unzipped giving you full access to all of your previously compressed files.

The WinZip Wizard

The WinZip Wizard is the inexperienced user s best friend. The Wizard will walk you step-by-step through several of WinZip s basic functions most importantly zipping and unzipping files.

Here we ll walk you through how to use the WinZip Wizard.

Finding the Wizard

1. Launch WinZIP. In the upper right hand corner of the application there is a menu button that says Wizard. Click here and the Wizard will launch.

Follow the instruction

1. After you launch the Wizard you can set your default options. This is if you have specific folders you want all your extractions to compressions to default to. If you don t have special places for your ZIP files to go, select  NEXT. 

2. You ll be prompted to choose what you would like WinZip Wizard to do. There are four choices. Today we will choose to Create a new Zip file and Unzip or install from an existing Zip file.


Create a New ZIP using WinZip Wizard

1. Name your new ZIP file. The Wizard by default will send your zipped file to My Documents. Use the browse button if you would like your zip file to go into another folder.

2. Select the files or folders you would like to add.

3. Click the  Zip Now  button

4. When your file is finished zipping a screen will appear displaying your compression ratio. Click  Finish.  Your zipped files will be located in My Documents or the location you previously specified.

In four steps you have created a new ZIP archive with the WinZip Wizard

Extracting a ZIP archive using WinZip Wizard

1. Open the WinZip Wizard and click  Next 
2. Select  Unzip or install from an existing Zip file  and click  Next 

3. If you don t have any files in your Favorite Zip Folders you can have WinZip automatically search your hard drive or you can choose to find the file on your own using Windows Explorer. We chose to allow WinZip search our hard drive.

4. Chose the archive you would like to extract from the displayed list and click  Next. 

5. The unzipped files will default extract to your My Documents folder.

Note * If your archives contain questionable extensions WinZip will give you a warning. Never unzip files from unknown sources

6. Click  Unzip Now 

7. WinZip will automatically open the Window your files have been extracted to. Click  Finish 

This concludes our WinZip basics tutorial.

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