How to Unzip ZIP Archive Files

Unzipping .ZIP files is easy, provided you know where certain files are located on your hard disk.  There are four things you need to determine before beginning:

1) Where is the unzipping utility located on your hard disk?  (If you don't already have an unzip utility, then you may wish to download The Unzip Wizard.)

2) What is the name of the archive file? (xxxx.ZIP)

3) Where is the ZIP archive file located?  In what drive/directory?

4) Where do you wish to unzip/unarchive the file to?  To what drive/directory?

You also need to consider what a .ZIP file is.  A file with the .ZIP extension indicates that anywhere from 1 to 1,000,000 files have been collected together, compacted, and nicely packaged for easier storage and transfer. Think of a .ZIP file as a suitcase. You really don't know what is inside someone else's suitcase until you open it. You may find just one article, or perhaps hundreds of articles in a newly discovered suitcase. The same is true of a .ZIP archive file. It may contain just one file, or it may contain hundreds of files.

So what is so important about all this? Just this...what if the .ZIP you are about to open (unarchive/unzip) contains dozens of files? Where do you want all these dozens of files to be placed on your hard disk? What if you discover that all these files are junk, and you later want to get rid of them? These are important things to consider ahead of time...before you begin unzipping a .ZIP.

If you use The Unzip Wizard, then most of the following steps below will be handled by the program itself automatically.  If, however, you are using a DOS copy of PKUNZIP.EXE then you must manually follow these steps to help you unzip a ZIP file.

Here is how I would recommend that you proceed. First, I will assume a few things, in the way of an example:

1) The location of PKUNZIP.EXE is in the C:\DOS subdirectory.

2) The name of the archive file is SURPRISE.ZIP

3) The location of the SURPRISE.ZIP file is in the C:\DOWNLOAD directory.

Please remember, this is just an example, and C:\DOS, SURPRISE.ZIP and C:\DOWNLOAD are all VARIABLES and WILL BE DIFFERENT on your PC.

Then the only other thing you need to ascertain is WHERE you wish to store all the files that are extracted from the .ZIP?

Here I would suggest that you create a temporary directory for storing the files that will be extracted from the .ZIP. Here is how you do this from the C:> DOS prompt:

MKDIR C:\TEMP  then press [ENTER]

This will create a new subdirectory on your hard disk C called "TEMP". This "TEMP" directory will temporarily store the files you extract during the PKUNZIPping session.

With all these things established, here is how we would unZIP the SURPRISE.ZIP file. At the C:> prompt, type:


Again, please remember, this is just an EXAMPLE. You will have to replace each of the three parameters with the appropriate paths/filenames that apply to your situtation. The only thing that would remain constant is the "C:\TEMP" destination parameter, because you always want the unzipped files to be stored in the C:\TEMP directory.

The above command will cause PKUNZIP to open up SURPRISE.ZIP and extract all of the files inside SURPRISE.ZIP and place the files into the directory C:\TEMP.

Let's pretend that SURPRISE.ZIP had 13 files inside of it, and that after using PKUNZIP we find the 13 files residing in C:\ what do you do next?

Next, you would change directories to C:\TEMP, and see what exactly the 13 files do. You can change directories from the C:> DOS prompt by typing:

CHDIR C:\TEMP   then press [ENTER]

The you can perform a "DIR" directory listing command, and the contents of C:\TEMP will be displayed. You will see the 13 files that have been unzipped. You should look for files that have filenames similar to "READ.ME", "xxxxxx.DOC", or "README.1ST". These are usually ASCII text files that can be read that give instructions on what the files you just unzipped are all about. To read such a file, from the DOS prompt type:

TYPE READ.ME | MORE   then press [ENTER]

This will display the documentation file "READ.ME" on your screen, one page at a time. The "|" charcter is important in the above command, and can be found above your "\" key.

Once you have read the documentation, you will have learned what the files or program that you just unzipped is all about and will have probably discovered how to start the program.

So let's say you discovered by reading "READ.ME" that SURPRISE.ZIP was a collection of cross-stitching programs. Well, you like knitting, but you aren't crazy about cross-stitching, but you still are curious as to what the program looks like. You also discover that to start "Cross-Stitch Deluxe" you just need to type "GO". So you give it a try...type GO...and now you are inside the program. Well, after ten minutes of playing around with the program you realize that this program stinks, and you don't like it. Once you exit the program you now think, "I surely don't want to keep this piece of junk" and you ponder how to get rid of all the files that have been created. Well this is why we created the temporary "C:\TEMP" directory. Now that we realize the program was junk, by having all of the files that were unzipped from out of SURPRISE.ZIP stored in the C:\TEMP directory, this will make it a breeze to clean up. All we have to do is delete all the files in the C:\TEMP file, and we will have gotten rid of all the files related to "Cross-Stitch Deluxe". Just carefully type...


...and the 13 files that were extracted from SURPRISE.ZIP will be gone! Oh, but there is one more thing to take care of! We also need to delete the original SURPRISE.ZIP file. I will leave that for you to take care of, for I assume you understand how to delete files by now.

What if you find out that you want to keep the files that you just unzipped? Well, you can move them to a new directory for permanent keeping, or move them to a floppy diskette. Just remember, the original .ZIP file still exists and you should either delete it or move it also after you have decided to keep the extracted files or not.

This is alot of text to describe something which I initially said was pretty easy to do. Really, it is easy, but you have to do some preparation and thinking ahead of time.

If using PKUNZIP sounds like too much work, then you may wish to use The Unzip Wizard instead.  The Unzip Wizard is a Windows software utility that is very user friendly and makes unzipping ZIP files easy.


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