ZIP files – what do you do?

An email arrives with an attachment – a file called abcdef.zip – and you have no idea what to do with it!

You do what most people do:

  • you try to print it and it prints the size of a postage stamp
  • you try to view it by enlarging it but you would need a world-class magnifying glass to see what it says

Never fear – follow these steps!

Remember that a ZIP file can contain many different types of files – a word document, an image, a PDF file, an executable file (.exe) – all sorts!  These instructions are to “upzip” a zip file to give you the contents of that file which may be one or many other files.  If it contains files within folders, the folders are also maintained when unzipped.

If you are using a PC (with Windows):

  • Download the .zip file to your hard drive (and remember where you put it!)
  • Right-click on the file and select Extract All
  • Make sure that the Show Extracted Files box is checked
  • If you’re happy with the suggested file for the extract, select Extract, otherwise Browse to select a different folder then select Extract.

If you are using a Mac:

  • Download the .zip file to your hard drive (and remember where you put it!)
  • Select Open with Archive Utility
  • The utility will open and decompress the zipped files to the same folder as the .zip file
  • Click on OK if prompted.

If you have a different version of Windows or a Mac, use Google to help find appropriate instructions.

The important thing to remember is that the files in the zip file must be extracted or decompressed before they become ‘normal’ files and used as such.

In the genealogy world you may come across .zip files attached to emails:

  • Victorian Birth, Death or Marriage certificates purchased online and sent to the purchaser via email with a link to download the .zip file.
  • DNA AutoClusters produced by Genetic Genealogy or MyHeritage
The PURPOSE of ZIP files is to compress (reduce in size) and combine one or many files, folders and sub-folders which makes it easier to email one zip file as well as keeping files in their structure.

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