HomeWinBuzzer TipsHow to Zip and Unzip Files on a Chromebook

How to Zip and Unzip Files on a Chromebook

We show you how to unzip files on Chromebooks or how to create new ZIP archives using the built in compression feature of ChromeOS.


The ability to compress and decompress files is essential, especially when dealing with large amounts of data or when sending files over the internet. For Chromebook users, this task is made simple with the built-in tools of Chrome OS. Unlike other operating systems that may require third-party software for such operations, offer an integrated solution for handling ZIP files. This tutorial aims to guide you through the straightforward process of zipping and unzipping files on your Chromebook, ensuring that you can manage your files efficiently and effectively.

Why Zip and Unzip Files on Chromebooks?

Zipping files serves multiple purposes. It reduces the size of files, making them easier to store and quicker to transfer. This is particularly useful when you have limited storage space or need to send multiple files via email, where size limits often pose a challenge. Unzipping, on the other hand, is the process of extracting these files back to their original form, making them accessible for use. Understanding how to zip and unzip files on your Chromebook is a fundamental skill that enhances your productivity and file management capabilities.

The Chromebook Advantage

Chromebooks, known for their simplicity and efficiency, have a user-friendly approach to file compression and extraction. The process is integrated into Chrome OS, eliminating the need for additional software. Whether you are compressing a single large file or multiple documents into a single ZIP file, the process is intuitive and quick. Similarly, unzipping files is just as straightforward, allowing you to access the contents of a ZIP file with ease. This tutorial will walk you through these processes step-by-step, ensuring that you can handle ZIP files on your Chromebook with confidence.

In the following sections, we will delve into the specifics of how to zip and unzip files on a Chromebook, covering everything from selecting files for compression to extracting them to your desired location.

How to Zip Files on a Chromebook

This method allows compressing files into ZIP format on your Chromebook. Zipping files is particularly useful when you need to reduce the size of your files for easier storage or sharing. Whether you're looking to save space on your Chromebook or need to send multiple files via email without exceeding size limits, this method is your go-to solution. We'll guide you through the simple steps of selecting files, using the built-in Chrome OS tools, and creating a single, compressed ZIP file. This process is not only efficient but also essential for effective file management on your Chromebook.

  1. Open the Chrome OS Files App
    Click on the Launcher (circle icon) at the bottom-left corner of your screen and then click on the “Files” app. This app is where you manage all your documents, images, and other files on your Chromebook.
    Chromebook - Files
  2. Select the Files to Zip
    In the Files app, navigate to the location where the files you want to zip are stored. You can select multiple files by holding down the ‘Ctrl' key and clicking on each file you want to include in the zip file. If the files are in a sequence, you can click the first file, hold down the ‘Shift' key, and then click the last file to select a range.
    Chromebook - Files - Select Files
  3. Create the Zip File
    Once you have selected all the files you want to zip, right-click on any of the highlighted files. This will open a context menu with various options.
    In the context menu, click on “Zip selection”. The Chromebook will then compress the selected files into a new zip file. This file is usually named “Archive.zip” by default.
    Chromebook - Files - Select Files - Zip Selection
  4. Rename the Zip File (Optional)
    If you want to give the zip file a specific name, right-click on the newly created zip file and select “Rename”
    Chromebook - Files - Select Files - Zip Selection - Rename
  5. Enter the desired name for your ZIP file and press Enter.
    You can now move this zip file to any folder, external storage, or share it via email or other means as you would with any other file.
    Chromebook - Files - Select Files - Zip Selection - Rename - Result

How to Unzip Files on a Chromebook

The following steps show how to extract files from a ZIP archive on your Chromebook. Unzipping is the process of opening and decompressing files that have been previously compressed into a ZIP format. This is a necessary skill when you receive ZIP files via email or download them from the internet and need to access their contents. We'll show you how to use Chrome OS's integrated tools to easily open these ZIP files and extract their contents to a folder of your choice. This step is crucial for accessing and using the files stored in compressed formats on your Chromebook.

  1. Open the Zip File and Select Files to Extract


    on the zip file. This action will not extract the files immediately but will open the zip file in a new window, allowing you to view the contents inside the zip file.
    In the new window, you will see the list of files contained in the zip file. You can select individual files or folders you want to extract. To select multiple files, hold down the ‘Ctrl' key and click on each file. To select all files, you can press ‘Ctrl+A'.

    Chromebook - Files - Archive.zip - Select Files

  2. Copy the Files
    Right-click on the selected files and choose “Copy” from the context menu. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut ‘Ctrl+C' to copy the selected files to the Chrome OS clipboard.
    Chromebook - Files - Archive.zip - Select Files - Copy
  3. Choose the Destination Folder and Paste the Files


    in the destination folder and select “Paste” from the context menu, or use the keyboard shortcut ‘Ctrl+V' to paste the copied files into the folder.
    Chromebook - Files - Archive.zip - Select Files - Copy - Folder - Paste
  4. Wait until all files are extracted and copied
    Chrome OS will automatically extract all selected files from inside the ZIP file and place them in the destination folder.
    Chromebook - Files - Archive.zip - Select Files - Copy - Folder - Paste - Result
  5. Eject the Zip File (Optional)
    Once you have extracted the files you need, you can go back to the original zip file location. Next to the zip file, you might see an eject icon. Click on this icon to ‘unmount' the zip file, which is especially useful if the zip file is large as this will free up used memory.
    Chromebook - Files - Archive.zip - Select Files - Copy - Folder - Paste - Result - Eject

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions About Compressing  Files on Chromebook

Can I compress files into formats other than ZIP on a Chromebook?

The built-in compression tool in Chrome OS is limited to creating ZIP files. However, if you require different formats like RAR or 7z, you can explore third-party applications available through the Google Play Store, provided your Chromebook supports Android apps. Alternatively, you can enable Linux (Beta) on your Chromebook and use command-line tools such as rar or 7zip to compress files into these formats. To enable Linux and install these tools, you can find instructions in the Chromebook Help Center or through tech forums dedicated to Chrome OS.

How do I split a large file into multiple smaller zip files on a Chromebook?

Chrome OS does not offer a built-in feature to split large files into smaller zip archives directly. However, you can utilize third-party apps from the Google Play Store that offer file splitting functionality. For a more technical approach, enabling Linux (Beta) on your Chromebook allows you to use command-line tools like split to divide the file and zip to compress the parts individually. This method requires familiarity with the Linux terminal and commands, which are well-documented online.

Can I automatically unzip files as they are downloaded from the internet?

By default, Chrome OS does not automatically unzip files upon download. You must manually initiate the extraction process by navigating to the downloaded zip file in the Files app and opening it to access its contents. This manual step is designed to give users control over file management and to ensure security by allowing users to inspect a zip file's contents before extraction.

How do I recover a zip file that was accidentally deleted?

If you accidentally deleted a zip file, you can recover it from the Trash (formerly known as the Bin) on your Chromebook, provided you haven't emptied the Trash. To restore, open the Trash, locate the zip file, right-click on it, and select “Restore.” If the file was stored and deleted from Drive, you could recover it from the Trash in Google Drive by right-clicking the file and selecting “Restore.” For files not found in Trash or permanently deleted, recovery might require professional data recovery services, which can be complex and not always guaranteed.

Is there a way to compress and email files directly from my Chromebook?

While Chrome OS doesn't have an integrated feature to compress and directly email files in one step, you can first manually compress files into a zip archive, then attach and send it via email using your preferred email client like Gmail. To attach a zip file to an email, compose a new message in your email client, look for the attachment option (usually represented by a paperclip icon), select the zip file from your Files app, and send your email as usual.

Can I add files to an existing zip file on a Chromebook?

Directly adding files to an existing zip archive is not a feature supported natively by Chrome OS. To add files to a zip file, you'll need to decompress the existing zip, add the new files to the decompressed folder, and then recompress the folder into a new zip file. This process ensures that you can organize and update your compressed files as needed, albeit with a few extra steps.

How do I check the size of a zip file before and after compression?

To check the size of files or folders before compression, select them in the Files app, right-click, and choose “Get info” to see the total size. After compressing these items into a zip file, you can check the compressed size by right-clicking the zip file and selecting “Get info.” This information helps you understand the efficiency of compression for your specific files, which can vary depending on the file types and content.

Are there any limitations on the number of files I can zip at once?

Chrome OS does not explicitly limit the number of files you can compress into a zip file. However, practical limitations such as the Chromebook's processing power, RAM, and available storage can affect the performance and feasibility of compressing a large number of files or very large files. If you encounter performance issues, consider zipping files in smaller batches or ensuring your Chromebook has sufficient free resources by closing unnecessary applications.

How do I unzip files to a specific application or tool on my Chromebook?

After extracting files from a zip archive to a chosen folder, you can open or import them into specific applications based on the file type. For example, image files can be opened with an image viewer or editor, and documents can be opened with a text editor or word-processing app. You may need to use the application's “Open” or “Import” feature and navigate to the location where you've extracted the files to select them for use.

Can I use keyboard shortcuts to zip and unzip files more efficiently?

The standard process for zipping and unzipping files in Chrome OS primarily involves using the context menu with a mouse or trackpad. Currently, Chrome OS does not offer dedicated keyboard shortcuts specifically for zipping and unzipping files. For efficiency, familiarize yourself with general Chrome OS keyboard shortcuts, such as Ctrl+C for copy and Ctrl+V for paste, which can streamline file management tasks including part of the unzipping process.

What should I do if a zip file is taking too long to compress or decompress?

If the compression or decompression of a zip file is unusually slow, it might be due to the size of the files being processed or limited system resources. Ensure your Chromebook has adequate free storage space and consider closing other applications to free up memory and processing power. If the issue persists with smaller files, restarting your Chromebook can help resolve underlying system hiccups.

Can I extract only certain types of files, like images or documents, from a zip file?

Yes, Chrome OS allows you to selectively extract specific types of files from a zip archive. After opening the zip file, you can browse its contents and select only the files you wish to extract, such as all JPEG images or PDF documents, by using the Ctrl key for individual selection or the Shift key for a range. This selective extraction helps manage file organization and saves time, especially when dealing with archives containing diverse file types.

How do I handle zip files that contain files with the same name?

When extracting files from a zip archive that includes files with identical names, Chrome OS will prompt you with options to avoid overwriting. You can choose to keep both files (the system will automatically rename the new file to avoid a naming conflict) or replace the existing file with the new one. This feature helps prevent accidental data loss during the extraction process.

Is it possible to preview the contents of a file inside a zip without extracting it?

The built-in zip functionality in Chrome OS does not support previewing the contents of individual files within a zip archive without extracting them. To view a file's content, you'll need to extract the file from the zip archive first. This limitation is part of the zip format's nature, as the compression process makes it difficult to access file contents without decompression.

Can I zip or unzip files stored in Google Drive directly from my Chromebook without downloading them first?

Directly zipping or unzipping files stored in Google Drive from your Chromebook requires you to first download the files or folders to your local storage, perform the necessary zip or unzip operation, and then, if needed, re-upload them to Drive. However, Google Drive on the web offers its zip functionality when downloading multiple files or folders, automatically compressing them into a zip file for the download process. This feature is handy for batch downloading but does not apply to uploading or managing files within Drive.

Extra: How To use “Split Screen” on a Chromebook/on ChromeOS

The split screen feature on Chromebooks/ is a useful function that allows users to view and work on two windows simultaneously. This can enhance productivity and multitasking, especially for tasks that require switching between different tabs or applications. Our other guide shows how to use split screen on a Chromebook, using the trackpad, the maximize button or a hotkey, depending on the device type and user preference.
Featured - how to split screen on chromebook

Extra: How to Screen Record on a Chromebook / ChromeOS

Google has included a native screen recorder for Chromebooks in 2020, and the feature has been on the stable channel for over two years. Not to mention, Google has recently created a new Screencast software on Chrome OS, bringing enhanced screen recording with annotation, camera view, transcription, and other features to Chromebooks. In our other guide, we show you everything you need to to screen record on a Chromebook using the built-in Screen recording tool in ChromeOS.
Featured - how to screen record on chromebook

Extra: How to Delete History on a Chromebook

The browser history on a  is a record of all the websites you have visited, the searches you have made, the downloads you have done, and the forms you have filled out with . You might want to consider deleting the history on your Chromebook partially or fully for various reasons.Featured - how to delete history on chromebook

Extra: How to Install and Delete Apps on Chromebooks

There are three main types of apps that you can install on a Chromebook: web apps, Android apps, and Linux apps. In our other guide, we show you all possible ways how to install and uninstall all these different kinds of apps on a Chromebook/ChromeOS.Featured - How to install and delete apps on a Chromebook

Remarks, corrections, questions? Discuss this article on Reddit:

How to Zip and Unzip Files on a Chromebook
byu/WinBuzzer inwinbuzzer

Last Updated on May 5, 2024 3:03 pm CEST

Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a Master´s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.
Table of Contents: