How to compress or make files into one file

Updated: 01/05/2018 by Computer Hope
Compress

When making personal backups or packaging a large number of files to share with someone else, it's useful to create a compressed archive. To compress files into a single file, select your operating system from the list below and follow the provided instructions.

Microsoft Windows XP and later users

Users who are using Microsoft Windows XP or later operating systems can compress files using the included compression utility by following the steps below.

  1. Select each of the files and folders you want to add to the compressed file.
  2. Right-click one of the selected files or folders and click Send To and then click Compressed (zipped) Folder.
Tip

We suggest always compressing the zip file as a .zip for compatibility.

If done successfully, the computer should create a .zip file with the name of the file or folder you right-clicked. For example, if you right-clicked on a file named todo.txt, the compressed file with that file and any other files or folders selected would become todo.zip and be located in the same directory.

Microsoft Windows 98 and earlier users

Because other versions of Microsoft Windows do not come pre-bundled with their own compression utility, it is up to the user to install and use a third-party compression utility.

Once one of the compression utilities has been installed on the computer, you can use it to compress and combine multiple files into one compressed file. Below is a basic example of how this could be done.

  1. Select each of the files and folders you want to add to the compressed file.
  2. Right-click one of the selected files or folders and click the compression utility quick link. For example, with WinRAR, you would click Add to archive or Add to <name of file>. With WinZip, you would click Add to Zip.

Often, users can also open the program through Start/Programs and add the files manually through the program itself.

Linux users

Unlike other operating systems, almost all variants of Linux and Unix come pre-installed with some form of command capable of compressing and uncompressing files. Linux and Unix users are likely to be dealing with file extensions, such as .TAR, TGZ, .Z or .TAR.GZ. See the Linux and Unix command pages below for additional information about the commands used to create compressed files and to uncompress files.

Additional information