Viewing File Extensions and Working With ZIP Files

June 3, 2014

Show Windows File ExtensionsWhen I’m trying to help users through an issue, I often ask them to do something with a specific file and I give the full name of that file which includes the file extension. Each time I have to hit myself in the head when I realize the user has the absolutely awful default setting of Windows which hides file extensions. I’m telling them to find a file that they won’t find because Windows is hiding a very important part of the name!

At right is the dialog box with the relevant checkbox highlighted. It really is as simply as unchecking this one box and you can get it fixed in less than 30 seconds. Please read Display File Extensions in Windows Explorer and Dialog Boxes for the very simple instructions.

This is one of those little things I fix any time I set up Windows on one of my computers or I’m hired to make a client’s computer work better.

First there is the problem of a user finding a file and then comes the problem of working with the file. It always shocks me how many users have no idea how to work with a ZIP file since so many downloadable files come in ZIP format and have for years and years. Sometimes I feel as if I’m the only one who has ever used this format based on some of the questioning stares I get from users.

In short, a ZIP file is a compressed file. Inside of that single ZIP file can be one file or thousands of files. If there are a number of files, a folder structure can also be embedded. Windows can work with ZIP files all by itself and they are treated more or less like any other folder where the ZIP file is the name of a folder.

For those who want more options when working with ZIP files, you can download the 7-Zip utility for free. For an even more full-featured tool, Corel’s WinZip Pro is available. It is not free, but the extra features will be worth the cost for some users.

Being able to see file extensions in Windows and the ability to work with ZIP files are very important for all computers users to see and understand. Make sure you can see file extensions and that you can work with ZIP files now so you don’t get frustrated later.

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