Google Drive won’t let you work with ZIP or RAR files without downloading them to a PC first. This can be very troublesome, especially if you are dealing with multiple compressed files. We’ll show you how to open ZIP and RAR files in Google Drive without downloading them first. On the other hand if you really must download those files, it’s faster to use web-based extractors and portable apps.
1. ZIP Extractor
While Google Drive lets you preview the contents of an uploaded zipped file, you can’t open/download the individual files within a zipped folder.
To deal with this problem, you can install a native Google application called ZIP Extractor. It’s available both as a Google Workspace Marketplace app and a Chrome Web Store extension. For the latter, select “Add to Chrome” to proceed. (It will also work with Microsoft Edge browser.)
Installing ZIP Extractor
To install the app, you will have to give permission to ZIP Extractor to add itself to Google Drive and accordingly view and manage the files. These are standard security permissions which can be freely given, as this is a trusted Google Workspace Marketplace app.
During the guided installation, you will have to authorize ZIP Extractor to open files in Google Drive and Gmail on the official website. This requires a few standard permissions.
If you have a paid Google Workspace account, you can directly install the app through it, for it to then automatically launch from Google Drive.
No matter the method, once the ZIP Extractor is installed on Google Drive, you can easily locate it from “My Drive -> More -> Zip Extractor.”
ZIP Extractor is quite native to Google Chrome’s app ecosystem. Once installed, you can access it from
chrome://apps, just like any other Google program.
Accessing Google Drive Compressed Files Using ZIP Extractor
- After installing ZIP Extractor, go back to your Google Drive and double-click the ZIP or RAR file. This will open a preview screen.
- ZIP Extractor will show itself in the list of “connected apps.” Click it to proceed.
- ZIP Extractor is ready to extract the RAR files. Click the blue “Extract” button.
- It takes just a few seconds for the extracted RAR files to be saved in Google Drive.
- When you see the “extraction complete” status, the unzipped files are ready to view on your Google Drive account. Click “View Files.”
- You should be able to view unzipped files in a newly created folder in Google Drive. These can be downloaded separately.
With ZIP Extractor, you can selectively use a limited number of archived files. This is really helpful if you want to download and transfer the executable of a software without downloading all individual bits.
An amazing quality of ZIP Extractor is that it can also extract password-protected zipped folders. The password is only used on your computer to open the ZIP file and is never sent over the network.
2. Zip Opener for Google Chrome
While ZIP Extractor is the more preferred method to view unzipped files and folders on Google Drive, you can also use Zip Opener for Google Chrome.
- Click the Chrome extension link to add it to the Chrome browser (or Edge) and provide the required permissions.
- Once the app can read your Google Drive data, select your ZIP or RAR file from the “Select a file” option.
- Choose the ZIP extension to “upload and ZIP.”
- Choose to either download the unzipped files to your computer or save them to Google Drive.
Uncompress ZIP/RAR Files Online
While it’s convenient to handle Google Drive’s unzipped files within the browser window, sometimes you really need a local PC download option. For this you can either use a web-based extractor or a portable app that doesn’t require an elaborate installation. See our recommendations below.
ExtendsClass is a free online toolbox containing many browser-based tools for developers. It supports ZIP, RAR and TAR files.
- Drag and drop or select your downloaded compressed file into the main window.
- The unzipped files are automatically ready to download on your local device.
While a tool like ExtendsClass is good for an occasional download, it gets time-consuming if your compressed folder contains too many unzipped files. It woul be better to use the previous instructions in such a case.
Extract.me (or Archive Extractor) is an excellent online unzipping tool that doesn’t require you to have downloaded your files previously from Google Drive. There’s no option, however, to directly sync them with Google Drive.
- Select “from Google Drive” as the default option for uploading the ZIP/RAR files.
- You must provide the permission to access your Google Drive. Select the RAR or ZIP file you would like extracted.
- After a few seconds, the extracted files are viewable with local PC download links.
Unzip-Online is another simple tool that provides an easy interface to unzip compressed files up to 200 MB. Select “Uncompress file” to choose the TAR, ZIP, RAR or 7z files from your computer. You can’t import directly from Google Drive.
The unzipping happens very fast. You can download the final files from here.
- After downloading to a PC location, directly launch the Portable app with a double-click.
- You can add any ZIP, RAR, TAR or 7z file from “File Open,” then right-click to extract it anywhere on your device including the desktop or a new folder.
5. WinRAR Portable
WinRAR Portable is a powerful zipped file handler, one of the oldest compression tools on the Web. It can be downloaded here and supports Windows, Linux, and Mac.
- Double-click the downloaded file and select a destination folder, which can be the your desktop. Click “install” to proceed.
- You will be able to see a new folder: “WinRAR Unplugged”. Click the launch file to activate the WinRAR application.
- Once WinRAR opens, use “Open archive” to open any ZIP, RAR or TAR archive.
- You can further extract the unzipped files to any location.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I download ZIP and RAR files from Google Drive?
In order to work with some of the above online ZIP and RAR extractors, you have to first download the ZIP and RAR files. On Google Drive, select the desired compressed file, right-click and select “Download.”
2. How do I change ZIP to RAR files and other archive formats?
You need an online conversion software to change archive formats. Some of the popular options are:
Zipping a file remains one of the best ways to transfer and retain sensitive data. While Google Drive has worked on numerous features to cover the ways of zip file exploration, third-party apps like Zip Extractor are currently the best solution.
Do take note that extracted files can take up a lot of your limited Google Drive storage space (the reason they are compressed in the first place), so you will need to clean and free up space in your Google Drive frequently. You can also delete files from Google Drive on mobile and PC.
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