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 ChromeOS 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 ChromeOS, 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 taskbar. 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 ChromeOS mounts archives like a drive versus opening them like a standalone folder. This is different than how Windows and MacOS handles archives.

Step 1: Double-click on the archive you want to unload. ChromeOS 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

Zip Extractor is a web-based Chrome application that extracts and stores zip file contents on your Chromebook or to Google Drive. It unzips your files and places them in folders rather than mount them like a hard drive. Upon first use, it will ask if you want to use it next time you open a zip file.

Given Zip Extractor is a web app, it won’t work offline. Still, it extracts files in one step instead of several, which is extremely convenient.

Archive Extractor

If you need to unload archives other than zip files, we suggest Archive Extractor. It’s another Chrome extension that specializes in extracting compressed files of all kinds, including 7-Zip, TAR, DMG, crunch, NSA, and many more. It also supports password-protected and multipart archives.

If you work with more esoteric archived files, this is the best tool you can download.

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