You have just downloaded a program that came in the form of a .zip file and you have saved it to your download directory. Open Windows Explorer and browse to the directory where you have saved the .zip file. Double-click the file to open it with WinZip (or your Zip utility of choice). I recommend that you just use Winzip in “classic mode” to have more control over what is going on. WinZip has a wizard, and if you chose that option during install, WinZip will open with the Wizard. You can change that though, just click Close when the Wizard pops up and then select the bullet to Start in classic mode.
After double-clicking the file, the Zip program will display the contents of the .zip file. Any text files will be shown with a text file icon and you can double-click them to automatically open them with Notepad even before you unzip the file. This is especially handy for ReadMe files, as after reading it you may decide you don’t even want to unzip the file and you can simply close the program and delete the file. At this point you can also invoke a virus scanner from within Winzip. Go to the Action menu in the program and choose Virus Scan. The first time you choose this, you will have to point it to where your Antivirus program’s executable file is (e.g. C:\Program Files\Norton Antivirus\Navw32.exe). It will then scan the contents of the .zip file.
To extract the contents of the file, choose Extract from the Action menu or simply click the Extract button on the toolbar. In the Extract To field, type the path to the directory you want to extract it to, or browse for it on the right by clicking the + signs to expand the folder trees on your drives. Choose either All Files or Selected Files (where only the highlighted file(s) will be extracted. When ready, click the Extract button in the dialogue. It will return to the main program screen and display the status (unless it’s a really large file or you have a very slow computer it will be instantaneous). At this point you can close the Winzip program or go to File and choose Open Archive to open another file to unzip.
Now that it is extracted – for the sake of this discussion let’s assume it’s a program to install – go to the directory you extracted it to and run the setup file. After this is done you can usually delete the files. Either way, the original .zip file remains intact until you physically delete it. You can tuck it away somewhere in case you ever want to extract it again.
Winzip (and other Zip programs) will also extract other compressed file types such as cabinet files (.cab) that Microsoft uses for setup files. Need to extract an original copy of a .DLL from the Windows Setup Cabinet Files? Simply double click the cabinet file containing the desired file and it will open with WinZip. Highlight the file you want to extract, and click the extract button. With a file highlighted, the default choice is Selected files. Choose a directory to extract it to, and click the extract button in the dialogue.
Unzipping files is pretty straight forward and easy. Creating ZIP files is also easy, and we’ll cover that in the next section.