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How to Get the Best Use from the 7-Zip File Archiver Program

Just about every PC user encounters compressed files in formats such as ZIP and RAR at one time or the other. The most common format is ZIP and Windows has a built-in function for managing ZIP files. However, it is a pretty minimal feature. You don’t have to be a power user to find that you prefer to install and use one of the free multi-featured file archivers.

Several good programs are reviewed at Gizmo’s Freeware and 7-Zip is the editor’s choice. This happens to also be my own personal choice and I have been using 7-Zip for years. Although 7-Zip is a very popular utility, many people probably just install it and use the default setup.  However, 7-Zip can be configured in various ways and you may want to set it up so that it better fits the particular way that you work. Here is how to get the best use from 7-Zip.

Configure file associations

Normally, Windows Explorer is the default application for ZIP files but that's about it. Clicking other archive types such as RAR will trigger a “Windows can’t open this file” message. However, 7-Zip can be made the default program for a number of archive types.  The archived contents of files that are associated with 7-Zip can then be viewed and managed with 7-Zip by double-clicking the file.  Here is the procedure.

  1. Go to the All Programs list and open 7-Zip File Manager.
  2. In Windows Vista/7, you’ll need to right-click the 7-Zip entry and choose “Run as administrator” in order to change file associations.
  3. When the 7-Zip file manager opens, click the “Tools” menu and choose “Options”. The dialog box shown in Figure 1 will open.
  4. With the tab “System” selected, put a check by all file types you wish to associate with 7-Zip.
  5. Click “Apply” if you want to go on to make the changes given in the next section or click “OK’ and close the file manager if you are done.

Figure 1. Setting 7-Zip file associations

Configure the context menu entries

It is common to use 7-Zip from the Windows Explorer right-click context menu. (BTW, users with 64-bit operating systems should install the 64-bit version of 7-Zip to get proper shell integration.) A number of 7-Zip functions can be put in the context menu but you may not want all of them.  It is easy to choose just the ones that you find useful.

  1. Continuing from step 3 or step 5 in the section above, select the tab “7-Zip”. (Remember, you’ll need to be running 7-Zip as administrator in Windows Vista/7)
  2. The dialog box shown in Figure 2 will open
  3. If you want entries for 7-Zip to appear in the Explorer context menu, check the boxes by “Integrate 7-Zip to shell context menu” and “Cascaded context menu”. Conversely, if you do not want any entries in the context menu, remove any checks by these boxes and skip to step 5.
  4. Place checks by any entries that you want to appear in the context menu.
  5. Click “OK” and close the file manager.

Figure 2. 7-Zip context menu entries

And there you have it; 7-Zip configured your way.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's and tutorials, including  a computer education website and a site for learning about the command line.

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by stv1ross (not verified) on 19. October 2012 - 12:12  (101053)

7-zip is a great zip manager.
One thing i noticed in later versions - 7-zip opens in a file manager, instead of a blank window that you could drag/drop files to for fast creation of zip archives.
Is there any way to get this functionality through alternate means?
I really miss being able to create zip files quickly without going through a series of prompts from the zip file manager.
Thank you.

by v.laurie on 19. October 2012 - 14:25  (101060)

Try using the entries in the right-click context menu.

by gosset.inofensiu (not verified) on 17. March 2012 - 18:47  (90761)

7-ZIP it would be the best archiver if it had a GUI for Linux. So for linuxers I would recommend Peazip. Much better.

by Denis Gauthier (not verified) on 21. February 2012 - 2:34  (89154)

Number 1 : Haozip
Number 2 : 7-zip
Number 3 : ZipGenius

by BGennaro (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 19:21  (89132)

Does 7 zip work along side of rar?

by v.laurie on 20. February 2012 - 19:42  (89133)

Do you mean does it open and manage RAR files? It does. It doesn't create them however,

by Reethu (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 16:52  (89123)

7Zip is the best archiver according to me. Works well on WinXP.

by FrankT (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 16:05  (89115)

Move aside 7zip, your replacement has arrived! I have used 7zip for many years and found it to be an excellent application for file compression. I have had problems with it as in the 64bit version it would lose it's association for compressed files. I had to reset the program almost on a daily basis. Then one day while looking for a 64bit version of a program I ran into a website in China that produced a compression application called HaoZip. It's free so I downloaded it and installed it to test it out as they claim their program is the most used compression utility in China. After a few problems installing the app, (it kept reverting the install options to Chinese ) Eventually I had it up and running. Wow what an application. It's fast, clean menus and beats 7zip in all categories and there is some utilities added (rename etc.. ) in the package. I Love it for now and don't plan to go back to 7zip.
Have a look here:

by George.J on 20. February 2012 - 16:48  (89122)

I was thinking, why I didn't try this workaround in Windows 7! To Run As Administrator! For now, I am using Peazip on Win7 and works quite well. HaoZip is an interesting project too, and has come a long way in 2011 with major updates.

by Jorpho (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 15:22  (89108)

I've never been fond of the 7-Zip interface. I find IZArc to be much better most of the time – it's free, it uses the same archive formats (including the 7-Zip algorithm), and looks just like the WinZip of yore.

by Rob (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 14:52  (89105)

Couple of tips -

Tip 1
To make a self extracting EXE, select the files you wish to zip, and right click and choose 7-Zip\Add to Archive
Tick the checkbox - 'Create SFX Archive' then click OK.
Check your folder and there will be a file called Temp.exe which is a self extracting EXE
(PS I had my files in a folder called Temp, so that is why 7-Zip used that name.)

Tip 2
To send that self extracting archive to a GMail email address, rename it to -
and send that to your friend's GMail address.
All they have to do is remove that right dot, and the text after it.

Tip 3
You can even include programs (EXE files) in that file, and GMail will still accept it.

by alexxx46 on 20. February 2012 - 15:05  (89104)

Is it possible to save a new archive to a predefined folder?
Say, irrespective of the place the original non-archived files are located,
all the new archives go to d:\zip?

by Art€ (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 14:36  (89101)

I am a big fan of Portable apps; and have been using 7 Zip there as well. Really good and for Portable apps it is indispensable!
Thanx for thee tips.

by Ken Harthun (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 13:42  (89100)

I was a WinZip user for years before I discovered 7-zip in 2004. I have never looked back. One of my main uses is to extract files from .iso images so I can save them to flash drives. Makes carrying around the installation packages for frequently-installed software much more convenient that CD/DVDs. Anyway, thanks for the tips.

by SamG (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 13:40  (89099)

After Winzip went rogue years ago and started charging for it's use, I went to Tugzip which does most everything including create exe. file from zipped file archive. The only problem with it is it's interface when you extract to your desired folder. Not everything can be read inside he window. ie- choose all files or choose selected files to extract to folder. Then maybe this only occurs on my computer/s?

by Gregory P (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 13:25  (89098)

With faster broadband everywhere these days, I rarely use zip files anymore. I have not had a zip applicaiton installed on my PC's for years, and the built in archiving tool on windows works just fine without an external zip application.

I really do not see the need for it these days.

by gizmo.richards on 20. February 2012 - 23:27  (89148)

Archiving utilities offer more than just compression; they allow you to store many files and folders in a single archive. This is invaluable for backup purposes and also for sending somebody a large number of files. Much easier working with a single archive than dozens or indeed thousands of individual files. - Gizmo

by Gregory P (not verified) on 21. February 2012 - 8:57  (89181)

Great, then the built in tools work fine. Your argument for another external tool is not very good.

As for backups, you would have to be nuts to store your backups in an archive. The risk of turning hundreds of files into one, and then hoping the one file does not get corrupted is nonsensical for a backup.

by ciastek (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 12:24  (89093)

Does anyone knows about simple windows unarchivier, which can work like the ones on Mac or Gnome - extract on opening or context menu command, extract to the same directory as archive and extract to subdirectory named as archive, if archive contains multiple top-level items?

by zacoz (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 22:10  (89147)

7-Zip will do that . It gives you the options in the context menu

by umpio (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 9:16  (89083)

winRar has an option to make own compression methods and use them as context menu entries. I made a "delete and archive" context menu entry.

Can this be done with the 7-Zip?

Another useful, not so commonly used, are the command-line parameters. I use them to create weekly backups of all important user profile folders in my scheduled tasks.

by D.Owens (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 7:10  (89076)

I have been using 7-Zip for a long time. This will help me get so much more out of it now. Thanks!

by vignesh (not verified) on 20. February 2012 - 7:02  (89075)

I have been using 7zip for a couple of years now and boy i was satisfied with it. The few things that bugged me were:
> the ability to delete files after archiving
> creation of archive in the target folder instead of creating in the temp and later copying it.
> old antiquated interface
I recently made the switch to Haozip. It is a program from chinese with english interface. It is based on and built up on the 7zip engine. Not only all my gripes are solved now, I can even preview images in archive without unpacking. Keep up the good work.

by gknapp on 20. February 2012 - 3:09  (89069)

I find with 7-Zip that for the shell extensions to work you need to run 7-Zip as Administrator. If you don't the changes you make don't work.

by v.laurie on 20. February 2012 - 3:13  (89070)

That is why I said twice in the tip that you have to run as administrator.

by gknapp on 20. February 2012 - 4:29  (89071)

Oops, it's's late...I missed that. Sorry. :-(