How to Compress Files on Windows 11

How to Compress Files on Windows

It’s easier to upload multiple files compressed into a single archive than individually. This reduces the file size, making it easier to upload as an attachment and to download for the end-user.

Even if you have never compressed a file, others already do it with their data. “Data” ranging from documents and games that you can download. We already wrote a guide showing you how to extract files on PC.

This guide will show you the opposite: how to pack a group of files into a single, clean compressed archive. We will show you how to do this using the built-in Windows tools and two of the most popular third-party archivers, 7-Zip and WinRAR.

Method #1: Compress files natively

Windows 11 comes with support for ZIP archives built-in. To place multiple files or folders into a single compressed .zip archive, follow these steps:

  1. Select the files and folders you want to place into an archive. Then, right-click them and select Compress to ZIP file.

    Win11 Archives Built In Compress
    Right-click and select Compress to ZIP file.

  2. The archive will automatically be made – depending on the size of the files, this can take some time. Once completed, give your new .zip library a name.

    Win11 Archives Rename
    The .zip archive is created.

Note: Right after the dominant .zip, the most popular archive formats are .rar and .7z.

Method #2: Compress files using 7-Zip

7-Zip is a free and open-source software. It can compress files into the following formats: 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP, and WIM.

To compress files into any of the above file formats using 7-Zip, first install the software using this link:

Then, follow these instructions to compress files:

Choose the files and/or folders you want to compress into an archive. Then, right-click on them, and choose Show more options from the pop-up menu.

Win11 Archives 7Zip Show More Options
Right-click the files you want to archive and select Show More Options.

In the “classic” right-click menu, select the 7-Zip entry. Then, select Add to archive from the submenu.

Win11 Archives 7Zip Add to Archive
Select Add to archive > 7-Zip.

7-Zip’s Add to Archive window will appear on your screen.

  • Enter a name for your archive in the field next to Archive, and use the button with the three dots to choose the folder where you want to create it.
  • Choose an Archive format using the dropdown menu – this will determine the file type of your final, compressed archive.
  • You can configure the rest of the options as you like. However, the defaults should be fine for generic use by most people.

Finally, press OK, and your archive will begin being created.

Win11 Archives 7Zip Add to Archive Window
Add To Archive window in 7-Zip. Edit the fields, then select OK.

Method #3: Compress files using WinRAR

WinRAR is available as a free trial you can use indefinitely. It can be used to compress the following file types: RAR and ZIP.

To compress files into any of the above file formats using WinRAR, first install the software using this link:

Then, follow these instructions to compress your files:

First, select the files or folders you want to compress. Then, right-click on one of the selected files or folders. In the menu, navigate to WinRAR > Add to archive. If you can’t see the option on Windows 11, make sure you select Show more options first.

Win11 Archives WinRAR Add to Archive
Right-click the files to be compressed, select WinRAR, then Add to archive.

In the next window:

  • Enter a name for your archive in the field under Archive name.
  • Use the Browse button to choose the destination folder where you want your archive created.
  • Select the Archive format you want to create – usually RAR or ZIP.
  • Edit any other settings you prefer – for example, you can set a password for your archive.

Finally, click OK to start compressing the selected content into a RAR archive.

Win11 Archives WinRAR Archive Name and Parameters
Adjust the archive’s name and parameters using WinRAR. Click OK when ready to compress the files.

Final words

Working with most archive types is easier than ever with Windows 11. The OS itself comes with support for essential archive management. When you need more compression options, there are free third-party tools that you can use.

Erik is a full-time product quality engineer at the IBM who has a passion for teaching others (and always learning) about technology. He has a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Eindhoven University of Technology. Erik is the chief editor for Windows, Linux and coding tutorials.

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