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Learn More about .zip Files

Did you just download a .zip file to review your VA Medical Images and Reports? This page explains the basics of .zip files and how to use them.

Sometimes when you download files, they arrive in a '.zip' format. Zip files (.zip) are one or more files that have been combined into one single file. This is useful when transmitting large amounts of data. Since more than one file can be contained in a .zip file, the .zip file can be downloaded then unzipped to open many files at once.

The .zip file format allows data to be compressed. Compression reduces the volume of data in a file to make it easier and faster to transmit.

You can identify .zip files by the zipper on the folder icon.

Zip file icon with a zipper on the folder

Let your system decide which default application should open the file. The .zip format is now supported by many software utilities. Microsoft has included built-in .zip support (under the name 'compressed folders') in versions of Microsoft Windows. Apple has included built-in .zip support in Mac OS X 10.3 (via BOMArchiveHelper, now Archive Utility) and later. Most free operating systems have built in support for .zip in similar manners to Windows and Mac OS X.

To open a .zip file in Windows, do one of the following:

  • Double-click the folder to open a single folder

  • To open the entire contents of the folder, right-click the folder, click Extract All, and then follow the instructions

Once the file extraction is complete, you should see the individual files in a folder window. The unzipped folder opens in a new window, and you can begin working with the files contained inside that folder.

To open a .zip file in MAC OS X, do the following:

  • Click the 'Finder' app on the Dock and browse to the location where the .zip file is saved

  • Double-click the .zip file to extract its contents. The contents of the .zip file are automatically extracted to a new folder with the same name and location as the .zip file

  • Open the new folder to view and access its contents

The My HealtheVet Blue Button VA Medical Images and Reports feature allows you to open images and reports transmitted in a .zip file. Your images and reports are provided in a single .zip file for each study. To learn more about the VA Medical Images and Reports feature, review the FAQs.

To protect your personal health information, do not open a .zip file when using a public computer as it will automatically save in the download folder of that computer.