Create a compressed zip folder archive in Windows 7?
I'm a graphic designer and often have a dozen or more files that I'm working on for a client. When I need to check in with them, it's generally a pain because of the file count and they get confused by all the attachments and often don't unpack everything before calling me to say something's missing. Is there a smarter way to create a folder with my files on my Windows PC or some other archival approach I could use?
You're not alone with your need to share lots of files with clients, actually, and there are a lot of different approaches. If sharing services like DropBox and SkyDrive weren't such a pain to work with, they could be great solutions, but let's stick with what's built in with Windows 7 since that's what you're running on your PC.
Well, I'm making an assumption about how complicated things are, I admit, and I know some people will say that a simple tutorial would go a long way to explaining how to use something like Microsoft SkyDrive to share a folder or "virtual drive" with a customer. That's true, but in this instance, I'm waiting to see how it's integrated into the new Windows 8 that's on the way: grafting it into Windows 7 is just awkward, and as a consultant I'm always leery of asking my clients to do things that might require tech support or assistance. Frustration is not an emotion I want to have them associate with my communications. :-)
Anyway, back to Windows 7. Turns out that the OS handles compressed ZIP folders very elegantly and that's probably the easiest way to send a bunch of files to someone as a single entity. Oddly, though, considering they're called "compressed" folders, you actually have to change a preference setting to actually have the contents compressed.
To start, I've pulled a couple of files onto my Desktop and right-clicked to produce the context menu:
Notice that I just choose "New" --> "Compressed (zipped) Folder". It now creates the folder in the same location as the files I want to add:
Now I'll click and drag to define a rectangle that encompasses all the files I want to copy, then drag them all onto the new compressed folder icon:
Notice that it copies the files, it doesn't move them. That's handy: you can copy everything you want into the folder, mail it to your client, then safely delete it without worrying that you just lost any of your work.
What's really nice about how Windows handles the compressed folder is that you can simply double-click to open and peruse its contents:
Let's check the Properties of the new folder real quickly, though, to ensure it's really compressing the data therein. To do that, right click on the folder (you'll notice I've renamed it "File Archive") and choose "Properties":
Nothing too earthshaking, but you'll notice that while the folder is compressed, the properties are just generic file properties in Windows:
Click on the "Advanced..." button near the bottom and a few more interesting options show up:
There we go. Notice that the checkbox adjacent to "Compress contents to save disk space" isn't selected. Rather odd. Check it. You can instead encrypt the content, but that uses your personal identity certificate in Windows and it's way too complicated to send a copy of it to a client and have them properly install it than it's worth in my opinion. Too bad. It'd be a perfect place for it to just prompt us for an encryption key, but....
Ready to mail it? Just right-click on the folder again and pick "Mail recipient":
I should note that another approach to this is to select all the files you want to send, then right-click while they're all selected and choose "Send to" --> "Compressed (zip) folder". Possibly faster, but in my experience, I'm going to double-click to open the folder and double-check settings anyway. Either way, a pretty easy way to send a batch of files or images to your client. Hope it's helpful!
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