Q My daughter sent me a file called wedding.zip that contains photos of her wedding. How do I get to look at these pictures? When I try to open
the file, I get some bureaucratic message.
A Zip files belong to a class of files collectively known as archive files. An archive file is
basically just a file that contains other files. A utility
program that works with an archive file typically
compresses the individual files as it adds them to the archive
and expands the files back to their original state when
it extracts them. A compressed file generally
consumes only about half the disk space of the original
file, which is why they are so popular on the
Internet. (Smaller files equal shorter download times.)
Many programs can create and open zip files. If you do a search on the Internet, you'll find
many commercial, shareware, and freeware programs
that can work with zip files. I like WinZip by Nico
Mak Computing, Inc. (www.winzip.com) because I
have found it reliable and easy to use. You can download
a free 21-day evaluation copy of WinZip from their web site. You can license the software for $29 to
continue using it if you like it.
Regardless of the utility you choose, the steps
for extracting files from an archive are similar. The
first thing you need to do is to save the zip file
attachment you received in your e-mail to your hard disk.
Depending upon which e-mail program you use, you can usually right-click the attachment, select Save
As from the pop-up menu, and specify a location on your disk for the file.
You can then use your zip utility to extract the
files from the archive. In WinZip for example, you run
the program and click the Open toolbar button,
which displays the Open Archive dialog box. Now find
the zip file you saved to your hard disk, click to select
it, and click the Open button. WinZip displays a list
of the files in the archive so you can select which
ones you want to extract. Choose Action|Select All to
select all the files. Next, click the Extract button,
which displays the Extract dialog box where you specify
the location for the extracted files. Choose a location
on your disk, click the Extract button and you're done!