How To Unzip Files On A Google Chromebook

If you’ve received a zip file in an email, or have attempted to download a movie or some music, for example, then you may well have ended up with a file you don’t know what to do with. Maybe you’ve opened it up and can see its contents, but have found you can’t yet do anything with them.

Fear not, we’re here to help you, and show you how to quickly and easily unzip files on a Google Chromebook. To learn how simply follow our step-by-step guide below, and for any additional information, see our FAQs below.

How to unzip files on a Google Chromebook

  1. First, locate the zip file by navigating to the appropriate folder via the Files app. If you downloaded the zip file, then it will be located in the Downloads folder.
  2. Next, once you’ve located the zip file, double-click on it to open it
  3. You will notice that the zip file is mounted like an external harddrive, and is now visible in the Files app sidebar at the bottom of the list of other folders
  4. Select all of the files in the zip which you wish to extract (hold CTRL and click or use the arrows on the keyboard to select multiple files)
  5. Now, right-click on any one of the highlighted files and from the options select ‘Copy’
  6. Navigate to another folder – wherever you want to move your extracted files – and once there, right-click in the folder and select ‘Paste’
  7. You’ve successfully unzipped files on a Google Chromebook. To finish up, hit the ‘eject’ icon to the right of the mounted zip folder. You can now delete it if you like, by returning to the Downloads (or appropriate) folder, right-clicking on the zip file and selecting ‘Delete’

And there you have it! It really is as simple as those 7 steps listed above. If you have any trouble with the process or are looking for any additional information, please do check out our FAQs below.

Frequently asked questions

What are zip files?

If you’ve received a zip file in an email, say, or have downloaded one from a website, you may very well not know what to do with it at first. Open it up and you’ll find that you can see exactly what’s inside the zip file or folder, but can’t do much with the content.

For those not used to zip files, or if you haven’t worked with them before, they can seem really confusing. But zipped files are supremely useful, serving a wide variety of functions in data transfer and management. 

Essentially, a zip file is a tiny folder that holds many other files, all of which have been compressed to a very small size. Compressing files by ‘zipping’ them makes their file collective file size small enough to be readily sent via email, uploaded, or downloaded quickly and efficiently. It’s kind of like vacuum-packing a bunch of clothes.

Problem is, you can’t do much with a zip file as it is. If you’ve downloaded one to your Google Chromebook, you’re going to have to unzip the file first, before you can do anything with its contents. Thankfully, that’s exactly what we’re here to teach you how to do. Just follow the step-by-step instructions above.

I’m used to unzipping on a PC/Mac, is there any difference on a Google Chromebook?

Yes, there is. It’s a small, relatively insignificant difference, but it does change up the unzipping process quite noticeable. On a PC or Mac, you’d typically ‘unzip’ the file or folder and your computer would ‘extract’ the files inside and place them in a newly created, separate regular folder.

On a Chromebook, however, things don’t quite work this way. When you open up a zip file or folder on a Google Chromebook, it will be mounted in the Files app as an external drive, visible in the left-hand sidebar as such. From here, you can follow our instructions above to copy and move the items from the zip file/folder to another location.

Once you’re done, you need only ‘eject’ the zip file or folder as if it was an external hard drive that you’d finished with.

What happens to the original zip folder once I’ve unzipped files?

Nothing automatically. Once you’ve moved files out of the zip folder and into a regular folder/alternative location, and after you’ve ejected the zip folder as if it were an external hard drive, it will remain unchanged in its original location, still with the same contents.

However, you’ve now extracted the files you needed from the zip and moved them elsewhere. As such, it is likely no longer needed and is now actually taking up the space it was designed to save. You can at this point keep it, if you like, but you’d be just as well deleting the zip since it’s performed its duty.

To do so, simply right-click on the zip file or folder and select ‘Delete’ from the pop-up options.

Can I zip files on a Chromebook?

If you’ve followed our instructions and successfully unzipped your file, extracting the compressed files you needed from it, you may well be wondering if it’s possible to perform the initial ‘zipping’ yourself on other files.

No problem, it’s just as easy as unzipping the files in the first place. All you have to do is navigate through your Files app to the folder with the files in it you wish to zip. Select all of the files you want to compress (hold CTRL and use the arrows or click to select multiple files). Next, right-click on any one of the highlighted files, and from the options menu, hit ‘Zip selection’.

Your Chromebook will now zip the files into one file, which you’ll find in the same folder as ‘’ (you can rename it at any time). Go ahead and send the zip file to whoever you need to.

What kind of files can be zipped and unzipped?

You can zip and unzip just about any type of file. Typically, the whole reason for zipping files is to compress them enough that they can easily be transferred between parties. As such, you’re most likely looking to zip music, videos, photos, and documents. All of the usual file types for these types of files are possible to zip – including .mpeg, .mp4, .mp3, .jpg, .png, .doc(x), and so on.