If you’ve ever tried to open a .zip file on a smartphone or tablet, chances are you were turned down with an error message of some sort. And God forbid you need to email a large number of photos to someone — that’s when you’re stuck tediously sending only four or five images at a time. Surprisingly, the world’s most popular compressed file format doesn’t play well with mobile devices, and native support for these file types is extremely limited. Thankfully the saying “there’s an app for that” remains truer than ever, and all you really need is a top-notch application to do the legwork.
Those of a certain age will instantly think of WinZip when it comes to unzipping compressed files. WinZip software is still the easiest to navigate with the most intuitive features for archiving and exporting ZIP files. Because it offers the best interface and the most robust set of features for a free app (available for both Android and iOS devices), we will we using WinZip today to open and create ZIP files from our mobile devices.
To begin, you’ll need to download WinZip from the Google Play Store. WinZip is a free application for Android that offers in-app purchases to remove ads and unlock additional features. These additional features include:
- Create and open password-protected .zip/.zipx files with AES128 or AES256 encryption
- Dropbox integration to create, save, and open files from Dropbox
- Unzip and view the contents of .zipx and RAR files
- Gain instant access to the Zip & Email feature
*Attempting to use any of the features listed above with the free version of the app will prompt an upgrade ad to purchase the full version.
Part 1) Opening ZIP Files
More often than not, the need to open and extract the contents of a ZIP file comes from email, so that’s where we’ll begin. Access the email attachment with the compressed file and save the ZIP file to your downloads. In this example, the downloaded ZIP file is called “compression test.”
1) Once the file is downloaded, open WinZip on your Android device, and look for the hamburger icon in the top left. Tapping this icon will open a menu on the left panel. Find and select ‘Storage.’
2) Locate the SD card that your ZIP file saved to. Unless you’ve customized your save settings, it should default to the ‘Download’ folder on your internal memory card.
3) Scroll through your folder until you locate the ZIP file, choose it, and select ‘Unzip’ from the bottom menu.
After selecting ‘Unzip,’ you’ll be prompted to find a location to save the components extracted from the ZIP file. We chose to make a new folder entirely to keep things organized:
4) Select where you’d like to save your new file-folder, whether it be on the device’s memory card or through synced cloud storage you may have previously set up.
5) Tap the ‘+’ in the top right corner of your save-location to create and name a new folder.
7) Your new folder will save with the contents of your ZIP file in a folder of the same name.
8) Open that file and voila — you have access to those components, ready for you to save, share, and edit to your heart’s content!
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Part 2) Creating ZIP Files
How many times have you tried to email a batch of photos to a friend only for your phone to reject your request or crash entirely? The ability to compress a large number of files into one neat little ZIP file will eliminate that problem for good, and you can compress and send virtually anything: photos, videos, PDFs, mp3…if it saves, it sends!
For this example, we will be selecting a batch of photos to compress into a ZIP file and attach in an email:
1) Open WinZip on your Android device, and look for the hamburger icon in the top left.
2) Tapping this icon will open a menu on the left panel. Find and select ‘Photos.’ Locate the album containing the photos you want to send, open it, and tap the photos you wish to send.
3) Once you have chosen all of the image files you want to compress, select ‘Mail’ from the bottom menu.
4) After selecting ‘Mail,’ the application will compress the images into a .zip file. To show this, you’ll see the “Zipping” indicator load before prompting you to name your ZIP file.
5) Name your ZIP file. From here, if you have the full version of WinZip, you’ll have the chance to encrypt your ZIP file. Otherwise, tap ’OK’ to continue.
6) After naming your ZIP file, a 15-second ad will display. This advertisement will encourage you to upgrade to the full version of WinZip. Wait out the 15 seconds and tap ‘Continue Free’ to proceed with your email.
7) Select the method you wish to send the .zip file, whether you want to send it through an email client, social networking app, or if you’d like to save to your cloud storage. From that point, WinZip will transfer you to the selected application of your choice for you to save and send the ZIP file where you’d like.