Many files compressed into archives such as .zip, .rar, and .7z must be extracted or unzipped to access the content within. They are compressed because it makes it easier to “package” and send a group of files such as documents, games, or music. Even if you don’t compress your own files, you should learn how to extract such archives to gain access to the files within them.
This guide shows you how to unzip these files using the built-in Windows utility and free third-party apps that offer more versatility.
Method #1: Extract natively
There are two quick and straightforward ways to extract archives in Windows without downloading any additional software or tools. This method will work for .zip and .rar files.
Extract the file
To extract a file’s contents, right-click on it and select Extract from the menu.
Finally, choose the destination folder where you want to extract the archive’s contents.
Double click the file to open it
You can “enter” any .zip archive by double-clicking on it in File Explorer. Any change you try to apply, like renaming or modifying a file, will have it extracted in the background and then re-added to the archive. That’s why managing the contents of an archive is a tad slower than working with standard folders. Still, it’s easier to check one or two files in an archive this way instead of fully extracting all its contents.
Method #2: Extract using 7-Zip
7-Zip is a free, lightweight software that, according to their official website, can be used to unpack these file formats: 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP and WIM, APFS, AR, ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DMG, EXT, FAT, GPT, HFS, IHEX, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, QCOW2, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, UEFI, VDI, VHD, VHDX, VMDK, WIM, XAR, and Z.
First, download and install it using this link: https://www.7-zip.org
Then, follow these steps:
Right-click your archived file, then click on 7-Zip (you might have to select Show more options first). From the submenu, select Extract files to choose where you want the archive unzipped. Alternatively, you can select Extract Here to have everything extracted in the same folder as the archive.
Method #3: Extract using WinRAR
WinRAR is a trialware software that is one of the most popular tools to pack and unpack archives. It supports unpacking the following file formats: RAR, ZIP, CAB, ARJ, LZH, TAR, GZ, Tar.GZ, TG, XZ, BZ2, and TAR.BZ2, UUE, JAR, 7Z, Z and ISO.
First, download WinRAR using this link: https://www.win-rar.com/predownload.html?&L=0.
Then, follow these steps to extract your archive:
Right-click the file you want to extract, and choose the extraction option you prefer from the WinRAR submenu. You can choose Extract files… to choose where you want to unpack the archive. Alternatively, use the Extract Here option to unpack the contents within the same folder.