Android devices don’t always allow you to open every file type you download or receive in your email. The same applies to compressing a file or group of files. Depending on what the file is, this may be a big inconvenience. Some file managers let you compress or decompress zip files, but what happens if there is a rar or 7z file you need to open? ZArchiver lets you compress and extract files on Android, even if your file manager won’t.
Tip: Need a better File Manager than the stock one? Check out some of the best File Manager apps for your Android phone.
Compressing a File on Android
The process of making a compressed folder is pretty easy actually. Install and open ZArchiver, then follow the steps below.
Create an Archive
- Give ZArchiver access to manage all files. This is necessary to compress files on your device.
- Navigate to the folder you want to create an archive or compressed version of. By default, parent folders are shown. You’ll need to navigate to your subfolders before creating an archive.
- Tap the menu in the top-right corner of the window that lists all of the settings to create compressed folders in Android. You can also tap the green “+” icon at the bottom right and select the “Archive” option.
- Click “Create” to choose whether to create a new folder or archive.
- You’ll have the chance to choose the compression format next. To create a new compressed archive, select “Archive.” If you want to create a new folder to compress later, select “New Folder” and skip to the “New Folder Compression” section below.
- Select your settings. Like many desktop apps, you can choose the settings for the archive: add a password, choose the level of compression, or choose to split the archive into multiple volumes.
- You can add the files more easily if you are in the correct folder or subfolder beforehand. You can create a new folder and move all of the files there if needed. Tap the files to highlight them and tap the green checkmark at the bottom to add them to the archive.
- Wait for the archive to compress your files. The level of compression depends on the compression type you chose and the type of files you’re compressing.
Good to know: ZArchiver also works with compressed files that you transferred from your Desktop computer.
New Folder Compression
If you’re creating a new folder from the “Create” menu, you’ll need to move or copy the files you want to be compressed. Follow the steps listed below:
- Navigate to the files you want to compress. This can also be entire folders.
- Long-tap the folder or file and select either “Cut” or “Copy.” If you choose “Cut,” this will delete the file from the original location.
- Navigate to your new folder and open it, then tap the green clipboard icon in the bottom right. Repeat this process to add more files/folders.
- Back out of the new folder once you’ve added all the files you want.
- Long-tap the folder and select “Compress to *.zip,” “Compress to *.7z,” or “Compress.” The latter option gives you the same compression setting options as creating an archive in the above section. You can also compress any existing folder in this same way.
Extract Files on Android
The decompress process is just as simple when you want to extract files on Android. When there is a file emailed to you or otherwise downloaded to your Android device, you have a few different options. The first option is to view the contents of the compressed archive.
- Open ZArchiver and use the file manager to find the archive.
- Tap the archive to be presented with a few options, one of which will be “View.” You will see the folders and files in the compressed archive.
- Extract a single file by navigating to it while using the “View” option.
- Tap the file and select “Extract,” then select your desired location and tap the green extract button at the bottom right.
- If you want to extract all files in the archive, there are other options. You can choose “Extract here,” which will empty the contents into the main folder. You can select “Extract to ./<Archive name>/” to create a new folder and extract all of the files into it. Finally, you can select “Extract” and choose a location.
- Tap the green extract button at the bottom right after selecting your desired location.
Tip: Can’t remember where you have saved your files? Learn how to find downloaded files on your Android phone.
Supported File Types
This is a list showing all of the compatible file types you can compress, view, and decompress. If you notice, there are many not-so-commonly-accessible files on an Android.
- Create archive: 7z (7zip), zip, bzip2 (bz2), gzip (gz), XZ, lz4, tar, zst (zstd)
- Decompress archive types: 7z (7zip), zip, rar, rar5, bzip2, gzip, XZ, iso, tar, arj, cab, lzh, lha, lzma, xar, tgz, tbz, Z, deb, rpm, zipx, mtz, chm, dmg, cpio, cramfs, img (fat, ntfs, ubf), wim, ecm, lzip, zst (zstd), egg, alz
- View contents: 7z (7zip), zip, rar, rar5, bzip2, gzip, XZ, iso, tar, arj, cab, lzh, lha, lzma, xar, tgz, tbz, Z, deb, rpm, zipx, mtz, chm, dmg, cpio, cramfs, img (fat, ntfs, ubf), wim, ecm, lzip, zst (zstd), egg, alz
Are there any other options?
While ZArchiver is one of the best apps to extract files on Android, it’s far from the only option. It’s popular mainly because of the wide range of file formats it supports.
Some file managers let you extract compressed files. For instance, Google Files supports extracting ZIP files. However, most file managers only support extracting versus compressing. Some apps don’t support video content. Use this guide to compress video content on Android. For larger videos, use this guide instead.
But, if you’re looking for something different or the file type you need isn’t supported, try one of the following:
RAR creates both RAR and ZIP files. It can extract RAR, 7z, ZIP, ARJ, TAR, ISO, BZ2, GZ, and XZ files. There’s even a repair function for damaged RAR and ZIP files. Create encrypted and password protected files for safer file transfers too.
- Select your folder(s) from the list.
- Tap the “Archive” button at the top.
- Select your compression options. Tap “Advanced” for more options.
Your compressed file is located in the same home directory as the original folder unless you choose a different location.
- If you want to extract files, select the compressed file from the list.
- Tap the “Extract” button at the top.
- Select your settings and tap “OK.”
B1 Archiver works with more file formats (37 formats for extraction / 2 for compression) than RAR and offers a host of additional features, such as multi-part extraction, non-Latin symbols in file names, password protection, file management, and even hiding files from media scans.
- To compress files, either long tap and select “Compress” or tap the “Create Archive” button at the top. You’ll need to choose your files/folders if you choose the second method.
- Select whether to compress into B1 or ZIP format, along with the file name.
Your file is stored in the same directory as the original file(s).
- To extract files, long tap the file and select “Extract.”
- Choose where to extract the file and you’re done.
7Zipper doesn’t support as many files as ZArchiver, but it is easy to use. You can compress into ZIP, 7z and JAR. You can also extract ZIP, EGG, TAR, TAR.GZ, ALZ, TAR.BZ2, RAR, JAR, BZ2, LZH, and 7Z. Basic file management and split ZIP archive is included too.
- To compress files, long tap on the folder. You can select multiple files. Select “Create ZIP.”
- Select your options. Use the drop-down box at the top right to choose between ZIP, 7Z, and JAR.
- Tap OK to compress.
Your file is stored in the same home directory by default.
- To extract files, long tap the file you want to extract and select “Extract Zip.” The option will change based on the file format.
- Select your options and tap “OK.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a difference between creating an archive and compressing an existing folder/file?
Not really. Both allow you to compress files/folders using the settings you choose. The main difference is that if you long-tap an existing folder, you’ll only be able to compress that particular folder.
With the “Create -> New Archive” option, you can select multiple folders to compress into a single archive. For example, if you have a dozen folders in a directory and want to compress five of those folders into a single archive, you’ll have the option to select multiple folders.
In short, creating a new archive gives you more flexibility with what you can add. However, all the folders/files must be in the same directory. You can navigate to sub-folders during the selection process.
Why are files being deleted when I create a compressed file?
There is a checkbox to automatically delete source files after compression. By default, this shouldn’t be checked. When you create a new archive or choose the “Compress” option, ensure that the check box that says “Delete source files after compression” isn’t checked.
You can also turn this off globally by doing the following:
- Open the menu at the top right.
- Select “Settings.”
- Choose “General.”
- Toggle off “Delete after compression.”
Why aren't my compressed files/folders smaller?
The default compression option is “Normal.” The percentage that files are compressed varies greatly on the file type. Documents and books will compress much more than videos, photos, and music.
If you need a higher level of compression, opt for “Maximum” or “Ultra.”
Why won't my ZIP file extract?
Occasionally, you’ll get an error when trying to extract ZIP files on Android. Typically, this means the file is corrupted, didn’t download correctly, or the process didn’t complete correctly.
Try re-downloading the ZIP file if possible. You can also try uninstalling and reinstalling ZArchiver or any other app you choose.
If the ZIP file is in a system folder, ZArchiver may not be able to access it on Android 10 and later. If this is the case, move the ZIP file outside of your Android system folders.
Image credit: Wesley Tingey via Unsplash
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