In Windows 11, the ZIP file format compresses data and makes files smaller, which speeds up file transfers and saves disk space. You can also use ZIP compression to combine multiple files into one compact package. Here’s how to zip and unzip files on Windows 11.

How to Make a Zip File in Windows 11

First, using File Explorer, locate the file (or files) that you’d like to compress or combine into a ZIP file. This technique also works with files on your desktop. Before compressing, know that if you zip folders, their internal folder structure will be preserved when they get unzipped later.

If you want to zip a group of files or folders, select them by dragging your mouse cursor over them using the selection rectangle, and then right-click the group. If it’s a single file, right-click it. In the menu that appears, select “Compress to ZIP file.”

Right-click the file and select "Compress to ZIP file."

After a moment, your ZIP file will appear in the same folder as the source files that you just compressed. The ZIP file name will highlight, allowing you to type in whatever name you’d like. Type a new file name or leave the default name in place. When you’re ready, press Enter.

Name the new ZIP file and hit Enter.

And that’s all there is to it! Pretty simple. Now that you have a ZIP file, you can copy it or share it like any other kind of file.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Zip Files

How to Extract a Zip File in Windows 11

Extracting (unzipping) ZIP files in Windows 11 is just as easy as zipping them. First, locate the ZIP file that you’d like to extract in File Explorer. Next, right-click the file and select “Extract All” in the menu.

Right-click the ZIP file and select "Extract All."


In the “Extract Compressed (Zipped) Folders” window that appears, you’ll see the current file path as the default location for the unzipped files. If you’d like to change the location where the files will be extracted, click “Browse,” and then navigate to the desired drive or folder.

If you’d like to see the extracted files in File Explorer when the process finishes, check the box beside “Show extracted files when complete.” When you’re done with those options, click “Extract.”

Click "Extract."

The compressed files in the ZIP file will now be extracted to your chosen location. If you had “Show extracted files when complete” checked, that location will open as a new Window in File Explorer. Repeat as often as needed. Happy zipping!

RELATED: Here's What Windows 11's New File Explorer Looks Like

Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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