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Are Chromebooks useful or useless? Chromebooks – Useful or Useless? Chromebooks – Useful or Useless? My wife gave me a choice of gadgets for Christmas – a new MP3 player, or a Chromebook? Read More It seems from our readers’ comments that Google’s stateless laptops are highly divisive pieces of equipment. Some people love their security and ease-of-use, while others bemoan their tie-in to Google’s wider ecosystem and Chromebook’s perceived lack of functionality Chromebooks Don't Work Offline? Debunking the Myths Chromebooks Don't Work Offline? Debunking the Myths One of the biggest criticisms aimed at Google's Chromebooks is that they are online-only machines – ergo, no Internet, no point. How true is this statement? Read More .

One of the biggest queries about functionality is whether or not Chromebooks have the ability to zip or unzip files. If online rumours are to be believed, a lot of users might think the devices are incapable of completing this seemingly-simple task.

However, Chromebook users have three options available to them.

Zip or Unzip Using the Chrome OS

ZIP files are an inescapable part of using a computer, and it is easy to understand why many people would feel disinclined to invest in a Chromebook Looking For A New Laptop? Get A Chromebook Instead! Looking For A New Laptop? Get A Chromebook Instead! Read More if they thought their new purchase wouldn’t be able to handle such a simple file type. Whilst the way the devices deal with ZIP files is certainly unconventional, it is incorrect to state that the two are incompatible.

Unzipping is easy but uses a different process to that which most Windows and Mac users are accustomed to, whereby you would simply right-click on a zipped file and extract the contents to a new folder or double click on a zipped file respectively.

unzip-chrome-os

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Instead the Chrome OS will treat a ZIP file like an external drive. This means that when you double click on it the file will be mounted, thus enabling you to browse the zipped files. When you have decided which files you want, you simply copy them to either Google Drive or the Downloads folder by using the Chromebook’s File app. Note that the ZIP file must be saved locally in the Downloads folder for this to work – if you try to do it from Google Drive you will get an error message.

Creating a zipped file is a slightly more confusing process, but is still simple enough for even the most inexperienced user to undertake successfully.

The confusion arises when trying to create a zip directly from files saved in Google Drive. If you select the files you want to zip then right click, the ‘Zip selection’ option will be greyed-out and unavailable.

gdrive-cant-zip

The solution is simple – move the files to your Downloads folder before trying to zip them. Although this is counter-intuitive because Chromebooks automatically save documents in the cloud by default, once you move the files to local storage and then attempt to create a ZIP file you will see that the ‘Zip selection’ option is now available.

downloads-folder-can-zip

Unzip Using Apps on the Chrome Web Store

Of course, you don’t have to use the Chrome OS to unzip files; you could use an app from the Chrome Web Store. There are lots of third-party zipping tools for Windows and Mac What’s The Best File Compression Method? MakeUseOf Tests Zip, RAR & More What’s The Best File Compression Method? MakeUseOf Tests Zip, RAR & More File compression is an important and common task users frequently ask of their computers. Reducing a file’s size makes it easier to email or place on a flash drive. It also reduces bandwidth usage and... Read More , but the Chrome OS doesn’t have as much choice. The best app in the store at the moment is ‘ZIP Extractor‘, developed by former Google employee Mike Procopio.

The app is available for free and currently has a 4.5 star rating from its 17,000+ user-base. Unlike the Chrome OS, the app can handle unzipping from either your Chromebook’s local drive or your cloud-based Google Drive. It also allows you to choose specifically which files in the ZIP file you want to extract and then lets you share them with other people.

zip-extractor

The main drawback is that it isn’t a native Chrome app, meaning it won’t work if you don’t have an Internet connection. Some users might also feel uncomfortable from a security standpoint – the app requires you to grant it permission to access your Google Drive How Secure Are Your Documents In Google Drive? How Secure Are Your Documents In Google Drive? Read More . This is true even if you only want to unzip a locally saved file, because all extracted files are placed in your cloud drive space.

Unzip Using a Cloud-Based Service

If you don’t want to use the Chrome OS and don’t feel happy using ZIP Extractor, your final option is to use a web-based service like ‘ZipShare‘.

Developed by the makers of the once-ubiquitous WinZip, the cloud-based extraction tool allows you to upload ZIP files from either your local machine or one of your online storage spaces before placing the unzipped files in your own personal online ZipShare account. With a 50 Mb upload limit, the service can cover most users’ needs, and even allows sharing of unzipped files across various social media platforms.

zipshare

What tips do you have for someone who wants to zip and unzip files on a Chromebook? Do you have a preferred online tool that we didn’t mention? What else do you find confusing or complicated with your machine? Let us know in the comments below.

  1. andrew
    June 26, 2016 at 7:27 am

    simple. chrome os is just useless.

  2. dogo tijkon
    July 1, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    Most of them work but some of them do not work correctly with .rar files. I found that unzip-online.com and funzip.net do work with those types. Especially funzip.net is very fast with .zip files.

  3. DELTA-GREEN
    April 26, 2015 at 3:34 am

    Thanks heaps for this. The technicality with not being able to mount ZIPs from G/Drive was doing me in. Now I know to just save them to downloads directory then copy contents to where I actually want them all is well :)

  4. Nick V
    February 12, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    Overtime Chrome OS has developed but not to needs as some kids got ripped off because they thought they would use it for games such as "Minecraft"

  5. Joe Halloran
    January 3, 2015 at 5:18 am

    Without the ability to deal with encrypted files...

  6. Nick
    June 6, 2014 at 9:41 am

    ZipShare is horrible! As many times I've tried it, it always failed to unpack my files. I don't know why does this service even exist. Just another WinZip's attempt to raise more money. Whenever I need to get some files unziped, I go for B1 Online Archiver (http://b1.org/online.jsp). This one unpacks everything. So, obviously, ZipShare is a very poor choice.

  7. Rick
    June 5, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I'm still hoping that the ability to both create and open encrypted zip files in Chrome OS will become possible at some time. Then I would feel better about certain files being in the cloud. That is one of the two main things I am now hoping for on this platform. The other is at that basic scanner interface - and that may be coming according to some other posts I have read.

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