Windows 10 has a basic stock utility for compressing and extracting files but it won’t work with all compression formats. Most Windows users will install a third-party tool to use in its place.
ZIP Files on Windows 10
Third-party archiving tools like WinRAR, 7-zip, WinZip, etc, when installed, will normally have an option to set file defaults for the file formats that they handle. The file associates allow users to quickly extract a zipped file without having to select an app to do it each time.
ZIP is one of the most common formats used to compress files and Windows 10 can easily extract a zipped file without needing a third-party tool for the job. That said, users are still unlikely to use the stock tool and will install other apps to handle a ZIP file.
How to open a ZIP file on Windows 10
As such, the third-party app will have to be set as the default app to handle ZIP files. On Windows 10, file associations don’t always stick and many apps continue to open with the stock apps.
Fix the ZIP file association on Windows 10
In the case of ZIP files though, when setting a different default app for the file type fails, many users are unable to extract the zipped file regardless of which tool they use. Here are a few ways to fix that.
1. Reset default file association
The problem with a ZIP file not opening is essentially a file type association problem so to fix it, try resetting the association back to its default value and then change it again.
- Open the Settings app (Win+I keyboard shortcut).
- Go to Apps>Defaults apps.
- Click the Reset button under Reset to the Microsoft recommended defaults.
- Try extracting the zip file.
Note: This will reset the default app for ALL apps including videos, photos, and your web browser.
2. Set ZIP file associations
For some reason, ZIP is not listed as a file type that you can set a default app for. This leaves users relying on the apps they install to set the association for them and file-app associations on Windows 10 are sometimes problematic.
- Open File Explorer and navigate to any ZIP file on the system.
- Right-click the file and go to Open With.
- Select Choose another app.
- Look for the app you want to use and select it.
- Enable the ‘Always use this app to open .zip files’ option.
- Click OK to set the new default app association.
3. Fix zip file association
One reason you may not be able to open a zipped file is that it’s association is broken. This can happen if a third-party app tried to change the default app for ZIP files but something went wrong.
- Open Command Prompt with admin rights.
- Run the following command.
4. Uninstall and reinstall an app
If you’re having trouble opening a ZIP file with a particular app, but are able to extract it with Windows Explorer without any problems, uninstall the app you’re using and install it again.
- Open Control Panel.
- Go to Programs>Uninstall a program.
- Select the app you installed to manage ZIP files.
- Click the Uninstall button.
- Once the app has been uninstalled, install it again.
Note: if you’re using an obscure app to manage ZIP files, it is possible that the app itself has problems. Try using a different app like 7 Zip.
ZIP is an exceptionally common archiving format for files/folders so if the association for it breaks on Windows 10, you will find you’re unable to interact/extract/access most archives you come across. Always use a reliable app for ZIP files or try to use the stock tool if you can’t find anything you like. If nothing else, the stock tool always works.