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 archive.zip. 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.

ChromeOS Files

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. This tool can unzip files in those locations and redistribute them in folders instead of organizing them like a hard drive. The first time you run Zip Extractor, the service will ask if you want to use it as your default tool to open zip files in the future.

The downside for Zip Extractor is that it’s exclusively an internet-run application. Without Wi-Fi, it won’t work. However, as long as you never need it offline, this tool is still an uncomplicated, handy option.

Archive Extractor

Archive Extractor is excellent for offloading archives that are not zip files. It’s an extension that you can hook up to Chrome that successfully extracts multiple types of compressed 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.

This tool is especially great for any person who works with unusual files on a regular basis.

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