Chromebooks can zip files, too, and here’s how to do it

how to zip and unzip files on a chromebook logo
Michael Crider/Digital Trends
Want to compress some files on your Chromebook, or maybe open a compressed file you recently downloaded? Not every Chromebook user realizes this, but support for zipping and unzipping both .ZIP and .RAR files is built into ChromeOS, meaning your Chromebook can already do it — assuming you know how. There’s also a free application designed to add support for even more filetypes, whether you need to handle .7Z files or tarballs. Let’s dive right in, and show you how to manage archived files on your Chromebook.

How to zip a file in ChromeOS

To get stared, open the file manager on your Chromebook and head to the files you’d like to put inside a zip archive. Select all the files you’d like to include by holding down the Shift key and clicking them one at a time. Once you’ve selected your files, right-click your selection to bring up the context menu. Then, select “Zip selection” from the resulting drop-down menu.


Your Chromebook will now create a .ZIP file containing all of your selected files, which you can then upload to a file-sharing service or attach to an email.


How to unzip files in ChromeOS

Extracting files from a .ZIP archive works a little differently in ChromeOS than other operating systems, and can take some getting used to. Basically, .ZIP files are mounted, like an external drive. Confused? Here’s what that looks like.

Open your Chromebook’s file manager, then browse to the location of your .ZIP file.


Once found, double-click the file to open it. If you pay attention, you’ll see that the .ZIP file has been mounted, and is located in the sidebar of the file manager alongside your Downloads folder, Google Drive account, and any other services you’ve mounted.


If all you need to do is look at a few files, this is probably enough. But if you want to extract files from your archive, open a new file manager window, browse to or create a folder for the files, then drag everything from one window to the other.

How to open 7Zip, tarballs, and other archive types in ChromeOS

The above method works for .ZIP and .RAR files, but if you need to unarchive files in some other format, you’re not stuck. A free Chrome application called Wicked Good Unarchiver supports other filetypes, including 7zip and tarballs.


Below is a complete list of the application’s supported archives. Thankfully, Wicked Good Unarchiver works in exactly the same way as the method outlined above. Just double-click a file to open it, and the entire archive will be mounted as though it were a disk drive. From here, you can open files or drag them to another folder.

7z ar
cab cpio
deb iso
lha/lzh pax
rpm tar

Don’t like mounting? Try Zip Extractor instead

Not convinced by the default method for unzipping files? Wish files would just be unzipped and placed in their own folder, instead of being mounted like a hard drive? Zip Extractor is a Chrome application that can extract the contents of .ZIP files and store them within your Chromebook, or directly to your Google Drive.


Just install the application, and when you do, you’ll be asked whether you’d like to use it next time you try to open a .ZIP file. The application will unzip files using a web app — meaning it won’t work offline — but it will also extract files in one step instead of several. How convenient is that?