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How to Work with ZIP Files in Windows Vista and Windows 7

The ZIP format remains by far the most popular compression and archiving format used on all Windows operating systems. Before Windows Millennium was launched in the year 2000, it was necessary to run a third party program such as WinZIP to work with ZIP files. Windows Millennium provided limited support for ZIP files without any need for downloading a separate program. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, support for ZIP files has improved even more. It is now possible to create ZIP archives without third-party software as well as just extract files from them.

If you're still not quite sure what a ZIP file is, it's actually quite simple. A ZIP file normally consists of multiple files stored in a single, compressed archive. This makes it far easier to send multiple files as well as large files over the Internet. Smaller file sizes make it faster to transfer data over the web. The fact that all of the files and folders can be stored in a single file also saves a lot of time, since you don't need to manually upload each file individually.

To create a ZIP file in Windows Vista or 7, simply select the files and/or folders that you want to compress and archive. If you want to select the entire contents of the folder, you can use the keyboard shortcut, "Ctrl+A." Right-click on the selected area and open the "Send to" menu. Select "Compressed (zipped) folder." A ZIP archive containing all of your files will automatically be created at the highest possible compression. You can then type in a name for your new ZIP file. The file will have an easily distinguishable icon depicting a folder with a ZIP along it. Whenever you see this icon, it means that the file is a ZIP archive.

To access and use the files inside the ZIP folder, you'll first need to extract them. This is also a very simple process using Windows' built-in ZIP manager. To extract your archive, right-click on it and select "Extract all." A window will appear allowing you to choose where you want to place the extracted files. The default directory which is already displayed will be created in the folder containing the ZIP file. It will, by default, have the same name as the ZIP archive. If you want to change this, type in the address of your desired directory. Click the "Extract" button when you are ready. By default, the extracted files will be displayed unless you deselected the "Show extracted files when complete" box.


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