Using WinZip

Topics Covered:

What is WinZip?

WinZip is an application that is used to create and use ZIP files. A ZIP file is a file with the extension ".ZIP" and that contains any number of other files. We use WinZip to make downloading files easier!

To "ZIP a file" means to create an archive. ZIP was primarily developed as a compression tool: Back when we had very slow BBS's instead of the Internet, downloading even small files took a very long time. People would compress the files to make them smaller, and therefore they would download faster. ZIP was also useful when you wanted to make a whole bunch of files available. It's a huge pain to download 20 different files, but if you created an archive of those 20 files, you would only have to download the one archive file instead. In addition, these 20 files would also be compressed, making the entire archive smaller!

To "UnZIP a file" means to open an archive and extract the file or files in that archive. This allows you access to the files that have been put together in a ZIP file. You will often be required to download files from the web for your courses; some of these files will be ZIP files. You will need to know how to open a ZIP file and extract the files inside it so you can use them.

Extracting Files in a ZIP

When you download a file, make sure you remember where you save it. You should always save your course files in the appropriate course folder. For example, if you are downloading a file for Java class, save that file in your PROG10082 folder. If you forget where you save a file, you'll have to waste time trying to find it. Keep your files organized in folders and you'll find it much easier to remember where everything is. Don't keep your computer like a child's messy bedroom!

The easiest way to open a ZIP file is to double-click it while viewing it in My Computer. The first time you do this after installing WinZip, you might get a message asking you to "associate" archive files with WinZip. It would be much easier if you clicked "Ok" or "Yes" to this question, because it means you can always open a ZIP or other archive in WinZip by double-clicking it. It will also give you the option of opening ZIPs in WinZip from your browser, instead of having to download them all the time.

Another way to open a ZIP file in WinZip is to run WinZip from your Start/Programs menu, and then click the Open button. This will give you a dialog box where you can locate and select your ZIP file.

If you open WinZip or a WinZip file as described with one of the two methods above and get a "WinZip Wizard" dialog box, you should click on the "WinZip Classic" button in the bottom-right corner of the dialog.

Once you have a ZIP file open, you should be able to see a list of the archive's contents as shown in the image below:

In the sample image, you can see that this particular archive consists of 4 different files. You can see the name of the archive (FirstPrograms.zip) in the WinZip window title bar.

To extract these four files so that they are stored on your hard drive and available for use, you simply click once on the "Extract" button.

Next, you will be asked where you would like to store the files in the archive. You can use the folders list on the right to browse for the right location. Make sure your destination folder is properly selected. You can tell because it will be highlighted and the little folder icon will be open instead of closed. See the image below showing that the "programs" folder is selected.

Once you've selected an appropriate folder in which to store your files, hit the "Extract" button on the right side of the dialog box. This will take each of the files in the archive, decompress them, and store each individual file in the location you've chosen.

Look at the bottom-right corner of the WinZip window while your files are extracted: The little lights will switch to red while the extraction is taking place. When the red light turns off and the green light turns back on, your extraction is done. It's possible that the extraction happens so quickly that you don't even get to notice the lights changing! If the green light is on and steady, that's probably the case.

Now use My Computer or other file management tool to go to the location you chose for your extracted files. You should see your files there, ready for use!