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Height Padding
Zipped files and the use of Winzip

Introduction: Zipped files, those ending in .zip are compressed files. Compressing files can reduce their size considerably, in particular document files, spread sheets and presentation material. Document files from Microsoft Word will usually reduce in size by 4 fold and 6 fold is not unusual with Word 97. Compressing files is very important if they are going to be used as attachments to Email where they save time and telephone charges. When we are using the mobile telephone a typical Word document of 90K takes two minutes to download which at full rates is 80 pence which can be reduced to 15 - 20 pence if compressed! Some Email systems such as FirstClass (used by the Open University) are set to not download mail over a certain size when used "offline" so we may never see you masterpiece if it is over 50K - the default limit for the OU system. The same applies to conference posting where the grief is multiplied as every user looks at or downloads the same file. Sending uncompressed files on a regular basis to competent users is arguably as unsocial as sending files which have not been virus checked.

How does one Zip and Unzip files: There are a number of utilities to zip and unzip files. The original and sometimes still used utility was the DOS Pkzip which defined the standard which is now universal. There are a number of unzipping tools for Windows the best of which is Winzip which is shareware and available on the CDs on the front of many magazines. It is probably safer to download from their web site http://www.winzip.com to ensure you have the latest version. It comes in Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 flavours and is about a 1250K download for version 8.0. We have been using it for many years at home after finding it originally specified by ESA for accessing their documents. It is fully integrated into Windows, in particular Windows 95/98 where many key actions are available on a "right click" menu in Windows Explorer. Most users only need to carry out a few activities on zipped file archives.

Examples of use of Winzip - opening archives: A .zip file may well contain an archive set of files or it may be just a single file. In either case double clicking on it in Windows Explorer, in an Email message or on the desktop will open a small Winzip Window showing all the files, their sizes and how much they are compressed. In general you do not need to copy them to another directory - double clicking will run the associated program exactly the same was as if they were in and Explorer Window. Double click on a .doc and it should open in you favorite word processor, a .htm and you browser will be run. In many cases software to install will be in a zip archive and clicking on the setup.exe file will install the software directly from the Winzip Window. If you prefer you can select one or more files and dragging copies to a folder, the desktop or onto a program icon. You can also right click on the file(s) and you will find Winzip will have located if you have any of the common virus checkers and it will be available on the menu to check you files before opening.

Compressing a single file: There are many ways to do this but the simplest way must be to right click on the file name (in Windows Explorer) and use the menu item to create a new archive with the same name but extension .zip in the same directory. Two clicks and it is done!

Creating an archive with several files: Again there are many ways to do this but one easy way from within an Explorer Window is to right click in the open folder window where you want the archive and select New then WinZip Archive. The new name is highlighted to be changed to what you want. You can then drag selected file(s) onto the name or the open archive to add them. All very simple and you will be surprised how much most files compress.

Summary: The above has, we hope, given an indication that it is simple and very intuitive to use compressed files with utilities such as Winzip. There are many additional things you can do but the above covers 98% of what we ever do. The other useful facility which you may need to know exists is that Winzip gives a mechanism to output an archive onto a series of floppies - look for spanning in the help file - it is the only way to transfer files bigger than the 1.46 Mbytes on floppies that I know of.

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Content revised: 8th September, 2001
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