Use 7Zip to open ZIP, RAR and compressed file folders

Most people use the WinRar program to open RAR files and Winzip to open Zip files or any other type of compressed file. WinRAR and WinZip are, in reality, paid programs that can be used for free only by agreeing to view messages from time to time to register or purchase the program. If this type of advertising does not suit you and we want to use programs as much as possible totally free (also in the commercial field) in this guide we will show you which is perhaps the best free and open source alternative to the programs mentioned above, ie 7-Zip.
Let’s find out how to install 7-Zip on our computer, how to use it to open ZIP, RAR and other file archives, associate it with all compressed files or ISO files (so you can also open the contents of the disk images), how to create a new compressed archive and finally how to create a new archive compressed and password protected, so that you can share confidential information without fear wiretapping.READ ALSO: Best ZIP and RAR programs, to compress files extract and open archives

7-Zip guide

After learning how this extraordinary open source program works, we will hardly go back to the commercial programs we were used to, since 7-Zip can completely replace WinRAR and Winzip in the management of compressed files on home PCs and office PCs.

How to install 7-Zip

To install 7-Zip just go to the official website of the program and download the version at the top (at the time of writing the 7-Zip 19.00), taking care to press the button Download next to the entry 64-bit x64 (suitable for all modern PCs from 2009 onwards).

The program is compatible with any version of Windows: we can therefore install it on both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. Once downloaded, we will have to click on the executable and follow all the installer steps without fear, given that there are no hidden surprises or license requests.

How to open compressed files with 7Zip

After the installation of 7-Zip, we must associate it with all the most used compressed files and also with ISO file, so that you can also explore image files downloaded from the Internet or obtained through a burner.
In order to quickly associate the compressed files we open the program 7-Zip with administrator permissions, looking for the program in the Start menu and pressing the right button on the program (so you can use your voice Other -> Run as administrator), press at the top of the menu Instruments, then on Options, so as to find ourselves in the tab System.
New association

To quickly associate all the files, press on both the + symbols at the top, so as to associate 7-Zip with the opening of all supported compressed files (make sure that the name of the program is associated with all the extensions shown). To confirm, press down on apply then on OK.

From now on all our compressed files (RAR, ZIP, TAR, WIM, 7Z and others) and the ISO files will be opened and managed by 7-Zip; if we want to act on a single type of file (for example we want to open only the RAR and ZIP files with this program), all we have to do is press the right button on the compressed file, select the item Property and press the button Change present in tab General.
File properties

In the list of programs that will be shown to you, make sure to select 7-Zip as an app to open all files with the same format.

READ ALSO: Change the program to open a file in Windows

When you need to open a ZIP, RAR, 7Z or other archives with 7Zip and extract the files inside to be able to use them, just click on it with the right button and then choose the option 7Zip > Extract to folder name . If it is a zip file, the files in the archive will then be copied to a folder that has the same name as the zip file. This extraction option is also supported by ISO files and also by files docx, xlsx and pptx created with Office programs.
7Zip supports file archives RAR, 7Z, ACE, BIN, CAB, CPIO, DEB, GZ, IMG, ISO, JAR, NRG, PAK, TAR, TAZ, B1, TBZ, TGZ, TZ, YZ1, Z, ZIP and many others.
In the extraction options you can also choose to extract the files in the current folder without creating a new one,

How to create a new compressed archive

To create a new compressed archive all we have to do is select one or more files from any folder or from the computer desktop, press the right button and go to the path 7-Zip, from which you can select the item add to .zip. (you can also use the option to create a 7z file, but if we have to share the file then it doesn’t necessarily mean that whoever receives it uses 7zip and can open the 7z file).
New archive

We will thus be able to quickly create compressed archives without even having to open the main program, but by acting from the contextual menu.
By pressing the right button on a zip archive file or other types, it is also possible If we want to have more control over the creation of the new compressed file we open the 7-Zip program, go to the folder or path where the files or sub-folders are present to compress, select everything you need and press the button at the top add.
New compressed file

In the window that opens we will be able to choose the archive format, the compression level, whether to add the self-extracting features or whether to delete the files once compressed. At the end of the configuration, click on the bottom OK to proceed with the actual compression.

READ ALSO: How to zip (compress) a folder of files to be shared

How to create a new password protected archive

Do we want to protect the files and folders kept inside the compressed archive? In this case, proceed as seen in the previous chapter and, once you open the configuration screen of the new archive, make sure to enter an access password in the fields Enter password is Re-enter password.
Protected archive

To make encryption effective, make sure it is present AES-256 as a cryptographic method and that the item is checked Encrypt the names of the files, so that you can open the archive only knowing the password (we will not be able to see even a preview of the files). To create this new protected archive, press down on OK.

If we are looking for other ways to protect files and folders on Windows, we recommend you read our guide on how Password protect files and folders on Windows.


In conclusion, 7Zip is the best alternative to replace WinRAR, WinZip and even the Windows compression utility, free of charge, with no license fees and no commercial constraints: 7-Zip can be used without problems even in the office!
Its light interface and the fact that it is free software are features that should not be taken into consideration by everyone, experts and non-experts alike.

Do we have protected archives and do not know how to remove the password? Just read the suggestions proposed by our guide How to find or remove passwords from protected ZIP and RAR files.
If, on the other hand, the compressed file is damaged or corrupt, we can attempt recovery by reading our article How to extract and recover damaged or corrupt ZIP and RAR files.
Are we looking for a quick method without programs to extract compressed files? Let’s see together the websites suitable for the purpose, such as those seen in the guide on how Unzip and extract RAR and ZIP files online: best 6 web applications.

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