How to View contents of a Zip File Online with Google Docs

You must have stumbled upon many ‘.ZIP’ and ‘.RAR’ files as your regular E-mail attachments. These are compressed files or archives created for documents and programs that are either large, or are not allowed to be sent via E-mails because of security concerns.

Like, say Gmail doesn’t allow you to send ‘.exe’ files. So you zip these using any utilities like ‘WinZip’ or ‘WinRar’, attach them to your mail, and click on send. If the receiver wants to see the contents in the Zip file, he or she needs to download the attachment to system hard disk, unzip or de-compress it using any utilities and view all the files sent.

Now, let’s look at a scenario. Your friend sends you a ‘.ZIP’ attachment with a huge size of 10MB, containing some fifty files, out of which only one or two files seek your concern. You will have to download the whole attachment of 10MB, then extract the contents and look for the files you need. This is obviously a boring process which is going to consume your time and bandwidth. Plus its irritating when you need only one of two files out of a hundred little ones zipped in a single archive.

I believe that many of you must have encountered such kind of problem, and some of you must have wished for any kind of magical solution for this.

A magical solution does exist now, with the name of ‘Google docs’. Wait, you must have heard this name earlier, surely if you have a Gmail account. Yes, you guessed it right. ‘Google docs’ is a standalone app, a web based free office suit that comes integrated with you Gmail, and allows you to view files online right on your browser window without downloading them. It also allows you to store your documents up to 1GB of size online so that you may access them anywhere and it also some provides some basic functionalities to edit them.

Also, you may share your files to your contacts. Google has now added support for archive file types .ZIP and .RAR with Google docs, along with many other file formats. Now you can open fifteen different file formats with it, including MS Office documents (Word/ Excel/ PowerPoint), PDF files, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop files, Autodesk AutoCAD (.DXF), Apple pages (.PAGES), Tagged Image File format (.TIFF), Scalable Vector Graphics(.SVG), Post Script(.EPS and .PS) and XML paper Specification (.XPS).

So, how are you going you use this feature? Well, pretty simple with Google.
1. Just click on the ‘view’ link at the right of your attachment on your Gmail.
2. A browser tab opens with Google Docs showing the contents of the Archive file.

It also shows additional information like Total number of files, Actual size of files and compressed file size of files on the left pane. Any of the files can be selected for download or to save online on your Google Docs account by choosing ‘Action’ link on the right of file name. Plus, if any of the compressed files have one of the supported formats, you can view these files right onto your browser. When you’re able to do this without downloading any extra files, you can feel the real power of cloud computing in this simple concept. You can also choose to ‘Download’ the whole Archived file in conventional way, without viewing them from Gmail.

And that’s not all. If you are about to download an Archive file from some website and you’re unsure of its contents, this online tool can have the solution. All you need to do is to visit https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=fileurl replacing the ‘fileurl’ at the end by actual URL for the .ZIP file you want to check. (e.g. https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.deviantart.com/download/244864038/aero_style_classic_cursor_by_thegregorator-d41saau.zip will check the zipped contents of a cursor pack available on DeviantArt) Google docs will open up, showing all the content of the file. Then if you want, you can download selected files or view the contents (if supported). You can also save them to your Online Documents. You can also find some good chrome extensions for doing this task. What’s the catch? You must have a Google account to use this product. This service is not available to guests. Yet, you can make a Google account for free to use this feature.

This is definitely a welcome move from Google for all the internet community, as it solves tedious task of downloading all archive attachments before viewing them. It is also another step from Google for cloud computing, which the company is advocating with its Chrome OS. Whatever, we liked the ease of operation it provides, right onto your browser. And did we mention it looks good on Chrome? Yet, it is supported on all browsers, be it Firefox, IE, Opera or Safari.



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