Browsers Internet

3 Simple Ways to Zip and Unzip Files on a Chromebook

Dan Price 05-06-2014

Are Chromebooks useful or useless? 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.


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! 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.



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.



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.


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 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.



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? 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.



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.

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  1. Andy V.S.
    January 4, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    I keep zipping my selections (which are mp3s) but then I can't find them anywhere as zip files. Can anyone help me?

  2. Alvis
    June 10, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    To unzip images, I do this:

    Mount zipped file - Go to files - Copy files to a new folder. They are now unzipped.

    It is kind of a hassle, though. Extra steps, etc.

  3. Tristen Keating
    May 24, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    I just need my school documentary to work.

  4. Tristen Keating
    May 24, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    I just need to unzip a compressed file. It has a documentary I made for a school project.

  5. James Middleton
    January 23, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    Does not work, I followed every steep 2 times. AND I try to decode it, then test and run the code. All it says is

    ¨prog.cpp:10:51: error: stray ‘#’ in program
    Copyright (c) 2012 Vernier Software & Technology and its licensers
    prog.cpp:11:15: error: too many decimal points in number
    prog.cpp: In function ‘int main()’:
    prog.cpp:6:3: error: expected primary-expression before ‘<’ token
    prog.cpp:6:4: error: ‘FileCoherence’ was not declared in this scope
    prog.cpp:6:20: error: expected primary-expression before ‘/’ token
    prog.cpp:7:3: error: expected primary-expression before ‘<’ token
    prog.cpp:7:4: error: ‘Version’ was not declared in this scope
    prog.cpp:7:16: error: expected primary-expression before ‘/’ token
    prog.cpp:8:3: error: expected primary-expression before ‘<’ token
    prog.cpp:8:4: error: ‘charset’ was not declared in this scope
    prog.cpp:8:12: error: ‘utf’ was not declared in this scope
    prog.cpp:8:18: error: expected primary-expression before ‘/’ token
    prog.cpp:9:3: error: expected primary-expression before ‘<’ token
    Jan 20 2015 11:03:57
    prog.cpp:9:4: error: ‘ApplicationBuildDateTime’ was not declared in this scope
    Jan 20 2015 11:03:57
    prog.cpp:9:29: error: ‘Jan’ was not declared in this scope
    Jan 20 2015 11:03:57
    prog.cpp:10:56: error: ‘Technology’ was not declared in this scope
    Copyright (c) 2012 Vernier Software & Technology and its licensers
    prog.cpp:10:71: error: ‘its’ was not declared in this scope
    Copyright (c) 2012 Vernier Software & Technology and its licensers
    prog.cpp:236:31: error: expected ‘}’ at end of input

    Just a whoa bunch of errors, don't try his useless steps. I have tried it all

    • James Middleton
      January 23, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      then my chromebook crash

  6. John
    November 10, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    hi...just want to open a zip file .... I get past the mounting and putting it in a downloads folder ...but still can't open from there. Also way too many ads on this page.

  7. Pssst3
    May 27, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Before answering the question let me preface it by saying that it makes little sense to zip Google Apps format files. Only a Google Drive user on some OSs can use them.

    There is no charge by Google for storing Google apps format files on Drive, they don't cou t against your storage quota.

    The only time I can see a need for creating a zip archive would be as an offline backup for the purpose of migrating to a new GMail account, like from a school or business one to a personal account or vice versa. Google's backup tool, accessible through your account creates a zip archive or archives of any kind of day]ta you have on Google services. It does the work on their servers and emails you a link to each archive., limiting each to being under 2 GB.

    So my first tip would be to ask yourself what you are using the zip for, and who will be using the archives.

    If it is someone who doesn't use Google GSuite apps, then DON'T include Gdoc, gsheets, gslides, etc. Download version of those files using the Google app and then zip THOSE copies.

    Second, if it is to be emailed to someone else, what quality internet connection do they have?

    Believe it or not, in the US almost 50% of all home internet connections are slow-speed DSL or dialup. The recipient may have a smartphone, but high res photos use a lot of data and can't be viewed at those resolutions on a phone. If you email 5 people a set of 20 photos, 5 copies of those photos are transmitted as attachments, need to be downloaded d by the recipients to be able to see what they are.

    If it is to send a copy to someone else by email, I would say that rather than zipping them and emailing the archive, share the files. This is particularly effective with photo images and file compression will occur if the recipient uses Chrome browser and has the Data Saver extension installed. Instead of a large zip being transmitted and downloaded, messages with the link is sent and received in seconds.

    Sharing can be done with anyone who has email, a web browser and an internet connection.
    It isn't necessary that they have a Google account. The only requirement is that the files be in a format that they can open.

    Sharing instead of sending makes reception and opening the files a receiver's option. Sharing a link to a folder of files lets the recipient view them as lower res web images and/or download them one at a time.

  8. Roger Nourie
    April 14, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    I am trying to install Skype on my chrome book and having no luck. I download the two files but cannot separate out the information I need from the other. After I download and double click on it nothing happens. I just need to be walked through that step. After the download to when that part is done. Thanks

  9. peter
    January 13, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    There are specialised sites for opening files online like
    They are pretty good even with support for quite a lot of file types.

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

    simple. chrome os is just useless.

    • Pssst3
      May 27, 2017 at 3:57 pm

      A tool that you don't know how to use, or for which you have no application, is useless to you.

      An opinion about the general usefulness of something that you don't understand adn/or don't use is useless to someone who wants to learn how to use that tool.

      Don't be an ignorant tool. Be a useful one.

  11. Anonymous
    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 and do work with those types. Especially is very fast with .zip files.

    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 :)

  13. 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"

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

    Without the ability to deal with encrypted files...

  15. 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 ( This one unpacks everything. So, obviously, ZipShare is a very poor choice.

  16. 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.