With the free open source tool 7-Zip you get a versatile utility for creating and opening compressed archive files. You can also create a self-extracting archive in no time at all.
Windows 10 (and also earlier versions) have the ability to extract and create .zip files. But it is not really useful and more advanced options are missing. Furthermore, more alternative file formats are not supported. 7-Zip is a much more advanced tool that offers a lot of possibilities for working with and creating compressed archive files. Besides being able to handle .zip, it also has no problem with a variety of alternatives such as .rar and .arj. You may be familiar with the latter format from the DOS era. Now you can finally unlock your old files again! Furthermore, 7-Zip also has its own compression format, .7z. This is more advanced than .zip and, in addition to slightly better compression (and therefore slightly more compact archives), also offers strong encryption. Ideal for sending files with sensitive content. As long as you provide a sufficiently strong password, it is impossible to read.
You can download 7-Zip from here, there is both a 32- and 64-bit version available for Windows. At //www.7-zip.org/download.html you will also find - at the very bottom of the page - some links to variants for other operating systems. Here we will start with the Windows version. After installation you will find the program in the Start menu under 7-Zip. To change the program's settings, run it as administrator this once. Click with the right mouse button on 7-Zip File Manager and then under More on Run as administrator. We will now first link all supported file formats to the tool. Click in the menu for that Additional on Options. In the window that opens, click on the plus button above All users. By the way, we see something strange here: if we click on the formats shown in the list, 7-Zip appears behind them – after clicking. Perhaps it is wise to first click on the items and then click on the plus button. Then click OK. Close 7-Zip and start it 'normally' - not as an administrator.
Start the Explorer and collect one or more files to be zipped in a folder. Select it and right click on it. In the opened context menu, click under 7-Zip on Add to archive. To make an archive file as universal as possible, select in the now standing window behind Archive format the option zip. Choose as compression level for Ultra. Is a bit slower than normal, but does yield the most compact zips. click on OK and the zip is created.
Unzipping also works quickly with a right-click on a .zip (or other archive) file. Then choose in the opened context menu under 7-Zip for example) Unpack (here) for a quick extract in the same folder where the .zip file is stored.
Windows 10 is quite stubborn when it comes to linking file formats to programs. If 7-Zip does not open after a double-click on a zip or other archive file, right-click on the archive file. Then click in the context menu on Open with. Select the option Always use this app for opening .zip files. click on More apps and then at the bottom of the list Find another app on this PC. Browse to the 7-Zip installation folder (the program folder is already open for you), select the application 7zFM and click To open. From now on, any .zip file (or other archive file format 'handled' in this way) will open in 7-Zip.
To create a self-extracting archive, right-click again on one or more selected files. Then choose below 7-Zip in front of Add to archive. Choose as Archive format in front of 7z and if Compression Level again for Ultra. Toggle the option Create SFX archive in. Optionally, you can set a password with strong AES 256 encryption. click on OK. You will now get an .exe file; by double clicking on it, the files contained therein can also be extracted. Handy for someone who doesn't have 7-Zip installed. The disadvantage is that mail providers such as Gmail block the sending of .exe files for security reasons. But if your mail provider doesn't do that, that's a nice bonus.