How to Compress Files in Windows

Need to send someone a big batch of files? Don't attach one after another after another to your e-mail. Instead, compress the files into one smaller, easier-to-manage file. In other words, "Zip" them.

The Zip file format has long been used to compress and archive data. Suppose you have, say, 50 Word documents that have a combined size of 5MB. By zipping them, you end up with a single file that's much smaller--maybe 1MB or even 500K. Imagine stuffing all your clothes into a tiny, lightweight suitcase--that's what compression does. Even better, when you open the suitcase, everything comes out wrinkle-free.

If you're already using a utility like PKZip or WinZip to compress and decompress files, there's little point in changing. But did you know Windows has Zip capabilities built right in? Here's how to use them on the fly, using the aforementioned e-mail as an example:

1. Compose your e-mail message, then click Attach File (or whatever is your mail client's equivalent).

2. Using the file selector that appears, find the files you want to attach. (They all need to be in the same folder.)

3. Select all the files you want to zip. (To select multiple files at a time, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking each one in turn.)

4. Right-click any of the selected files, then choose Send to, Compressed (zipped) folder.

5. Windows will quickly compress the files and create a new, zipped file that's immediately ready to be renamed (if necessary--if not, just press Enter).

6. Attach your newly created Zip file to the e-mail.

That's all there is to it! Granted, that's pretty much the extent of Windows' Zip capabilities, but if that's all you need, why bother with third-party tools?

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