How to open .zip files on an iPad or iPhone

Opening zipped folders on your iPad (or iPhone, or iPod touch) is not possible out of the box–the device has no built-in software to access these types of files or their contents. However, with a relatively inexpensive app, you can expand .zip files and access their contents with ease.

NewImageTo make this work, you’ll need to purchase an app called GoodReader and install it on your iPad or iPhone. Each version costs $4.99–the iPad version is separate from the iPhone/iPod version. However, once you see the many features GoodReader brings to your iPad/iPhone (in addition to opening .zip files) you may find that a five dollar investment in productivity on your iPad isn’t too steep.

This short tutorial will show you how to get a .zip file to your iOS device and how to open the file’s contents in GoodReader. Note that GoodReader is a good reader, not an editor. As such, you’ll only have read access to files you access this way–but if you have the requisite editing software on your iPad, such as Keynote or Pages, you can open them for editing once they’ve been extracted from the .zip file. I won’t cover that here but may in a future tutorial if people ask nicely.

1. Install GoodReader

To get started, fire up the App Store on your iOS device and locate and download GoodReader. You’ll need your iTunes account information to do this.

2. Transfer the .zip file to your iOS device

You can move files to your iPad/iPhone in a number of ways:

  • Send them as an e-mail attachment: Note that many mail servers scan and sometimes block file attachments with a .zip file extension; if this applies to you then either try receiving the attachment at an alternate e-mail address or use one of the other options below.
  • Download them from a link in a web page or e-mail: If the .zip file you want to open is available via a link, just tap said link.
  • Copy them from Dropbox or a similar service

Depending on how you choose to get the .zip file to your iOS gadget, you’ll see a prompt along these lines:

Open in goodreader

In Dropbox you’ll need to be a little more explicit. When you get a message saying Dropbox can’t view the file, tap the “open in” icon as shown here and select GoodReader.

Open from dropbox

3. Open the .zip in GoodReader

Now, open GoodReader on your device. You should see your .zip file listed in the files column to the left. Tap the one you wish to open.

Gr file list

When asked, confirm to GoodReader that you wish to unzip the file.

Unzip it

4. Open the files from the .zip archive

You should now see a folder in GoodReader’s files list. This is the decompressed archive’s contents. Tap it to open the folder and browse what’s inside.

Gr file list 2

That’s it! After you’ve unzipped them, can delete the .zip files from GoodReader by swiping across them in the files list and pressing the delete button.


Related posts:

  1. 5 iPhone/iPad/iPod touch apps for professional learning
  2. Going paperless with your iPad (or iPhone, or iPod touch)
  3. Travel light: Access your files on the go with an iPhone and Dropbox or MobileMe
  4. Start recording video on your iPhone/iPad/iPod touch quickly with Capture
  5. How to save YouTube video directly to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch

Aaron Sumner

Aaron Sumner is the Director of Technology for Research and Development at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. He has worked in web development and instructional technology since 1994.
  • arslion

    its googd to jailbreak and use iFile for unzipping and opening any file on an iPhone/iPad.