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How to Fix ZIP Files that Automatically Unzip

Screenshot: Files being unzipped and rezipped

Are you selling (or giving away) files? If you are, you will likely encounter the problem of ZIP files that automatically unzip for some of your customers.

In this article we’ll explain what on earth we’re talking about with ZIP files and the sometimes dreaded “automatic unzip issue”. We’ll explain how to fix it and why you should care.

Here’s what we’ll cover. Feel free to skip around:

  1. Ways to fix the unzip issue
  2. What, exactly, is this ZIP file automatic unzip issue?
  3. Why you should sell digital products as ZIP files
  4. How to sell your ZIP files

Ways to Fix the Unzip Issue

The keys to helping customers with the unzip issue are:

  1. Knowing all about how and why it happens
  2. Being ready to explain a workaround, either with
    1. Proactive communication (onboarding, welcome email, documentation)
    2. Support requests

Proactive Communication Can Save Time

Don’t wait until your new customers have issues with ZIP files to tell them how to fix it. Reduce customer support requests with proactive communication.

Think through the purchase process for your customers. Consider when you could tell them about the unzip issue and how to fix it.

Here are some ideas:

  • Mention it in on the purchase receipt
  • Write a highly visible FAQ page and have instructions for it there
  • Send a welcome email that has information about it
  • Create a getting started video that includes this possible challenge

Quick Workaround – Instruct Customers to Right-Click

One quick way to get around this problem is to right-click (or Control-click on a laptop) the link or button and choose the option “Download Linked File As…”, which will allow your customer to download the product as a “.zip” file. 

Note that your browser may default to saving the file wherever the last file was saved, which may not necessarily be your default download location set under your browser settings.

Disabling the automatic un-zip for Safari

The main web browser that will cause auto un-zip issues is Safari. A way around this problem is to disable the “Open “safe” files after downloading” setting. Apple often refers to “.zip” files as ‘archives’ or ‘archive files’.

  1. Under the ‘Safari’ menu item click Preferences
  2. A settings box will pop-up. On the General tab, which should open first automatically look at the bottom of the options presented
  3. Un-check the box next to “Open “safe” files after downloading” option.
Screenshot: Safari Safe Files Downloading Settings

Automatic un-zip for other web browsers

Most other web browsers do not automatically un-zip files. Below are some details on specific web browsers. Please note; web browsers are always changing quickly, we will update this information regularly on this post. The support links provided below will have the most up-to-date information.

Chrome

Chrome, by default does not automatically un-zip “.zip” files. If this is happening, you likely have an extension installed, which you can temporarily disable and then re-download the plugin “.zip” file.

Google Chrome support page

Firefox

Firefox, also, by default does not automatically un-zip “.zip” files. If this is happening there is likely an application setting that may have been enabled that you can disable.

  1. Go to the settings/preferences dialog box (varies between PC and Mac)
  2. Search ‘zip’ in the settings search bar under settings
  3. Under application settings locate the “.zip” file settings
  4. Make sure it is set to ‘Save file’.

Mozilla Firefox support page

Screenshot: Firefox Zip Archive Settings

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge, does not automatically un-zip “.zip” files with default settings.

Microsoft Edge support page

Other

Please check your web browser’s help tab or visit their website and look for the support or documentation section.


What Exactly Is This ZIP File Automatic Unzip Issue?

Some web browsers, especially Safari on Macs, will unzip files within a compressed ZIP archive automatically upon download.

When/Why Is This A Problem?

This is really only a huge problem if you are selling WordPress plugins, WordPress themes, or other types of software.

If you are selling other digital products like eBooks, PDFs, or graphic/document templates, you don’t need to worry about this. It’s not a big deal if your customer doesn’t have to right-click (or double click) the ZIP file to extract all their files. You might even see it as a convenience. 

Do be mindful that you should probably sell your downloads as ZIP files.

🤐 Learn why to sell your downloads as ZIP files

Selling Plugins, Themes or Software

This automatic unzip is an issue for software sellers. This is because software (like themes and plugins) usually have to be installed as compressed ZIP files not extracted files.

For example, in WordPress when you want to install a theme or plugin you have to install the downloaded ZIP file provided by the author/seller.

Screenshot: zipped plugin file

If the customer/user has a web browser that automatically un-zips the ZIP folder, WordPress won’t be able to install the theme or plugin. The customer/user will have a big stack of open files in their Downloads folder.

Screenshot: unzipped plugin folder mess

Microsoft Windows Users

For the majority of your potential customers using Microsoft Windows devices with Chrome, FireFox or Edge as their browser you shouldn’t have to worry. People on those devices will have to manually set their browsers to automatically unzip archives. 

Those who choose this are likely ‘power users’. They likely understand that ZIP files are required for software installation and have enabled this option for personal preference.

macOS Users

Your customers using Mac computers are the ones who most likely will run into this issue. The default web browser on a Mac is Safari (unless the user downloads another browser and sets it as default). Safari automatically unzips ZIP archive files, so use the fix above.

Important Terms:

Compressed FilesA ZIP file takes a file/s or folder/s of files and shrinks them down into one small file that is easy and fast to download to your hard drive.
ExtractWhen you double click or right-click on ZIP file to get the file/s and folder/s out of it, you are extracting the files.
WinZipThe file archive and compression tool that creates ZIP files. You used to have to download this software to make or uncompress/extract ZIP files. Now basic ZIP file functionality is built right into Macs and PCs running Windows.
ZIPThe file type used for compressed files by the archive utility built right into macOS and Windows computers. They can contain many files and folders within them but appear in the file explorer as a single file (filename.zip).
WinRARAnother file compression utility popular with Windows users. It allows huge files to be broken up into smaller files. The file format is .RAR. We recommend not using this format since most potential customers won’t know how to open the file.
7-ZipAn open-source file compression tool. It use a .7z file extension/format. Similar to WinRAR we don’t suggest using this to avoid possible confusion with the majority of potential customers.

Why You Should Sell Digital Products as ZIP Files

Providing your customers with a ZIP file upon purchase is usually the safest way to go. It provides the highest chance that the customer will have no issues.

  • ZIP files make your file/s as small as possible, making downloading as quick as possible
  • If you are selling a group of files, they consolidate (compress) them all down into one simple file, this prevents your customer making an error
  • A customer is less likely to not download your file, sometimes, with PDFs for example, the web browsers will preview (not download) the file. So the customer could accidentally not download the file and not realize it.

How To Sell Your ZIP Files

🤔 How will you sell your ZIP files (aka digital products)?

🤑 We can help you do that with a powerful, yet easy-to-use, eCommerce solution. All for free. Do you like free?

The best way to sell your digital products is on your own WordPress website with Easy Digital Downloads (EDD).

WordPress + Easy Digital Downloads Logos

Why WordPress?

WordPress is a magic mix of powerful and affordable. 🪄 It’s an open source platform where you control everything. It’s future proof. With the world’s largest network of professional services providers, you can always find someone to help you customize it to your needs.

WordPress Logo

WordPress has the largest collection of free and paid themes, as well as plugins to add functionality. It can, and always will be able to, do whatever you need it to do.

Need proof? It powers 43% of the internet.

🤷🏽‍♀️ Don’t have a WordPress site yet? No problem, you just need a good web host.

Why EDD?

Easy Digital Downloads Logo Banner

Like WordPress, EDD hits that magic mix of powerful and affordable. How affordable? Free! You can use it for free forever.

EDD has a proven 10-year track record as one of the most trusted WordPress plugins ever made. More than 50,000 businesses, large and small, rely on it to power their digital stores.

👎 With many other eCommerce solutions selling downloads is an afterthought. You’ll waste time setting up a store designed for physical goods with shipping, inventory and logistic tools you don’t need. Plus, many only offer a brief free trial, you’ll end up with high monthly overhead costs, just as you’re getting started.

👎🏾 Online marketplaces are easy to get set up on. But they charge high fees for each product you sell. The more you make, the more they take. It’s not a good strategy to try to build your own business on someone else’s website.

The free version (not free trial) of EDD includes:

  • Protected files, only paying customers can access them
  • Stripe and/or PayPal integration
    • Apple Pay and Google Pay Express Checkout buttons require Stripe
  • Full control over pricing
  • Complete control over branding and customer experience
  • Direct communication with customers
  • Shopping cart
  • Flexible checkout options
  • Discount codes
  • Customer management (basic CRM)
  • eCommerce reports

What’s stopping you!? Get started today. Grab an EDD Pass and get started!

Selling Software?

Easy Digital Downloads is perfect for selling software like WordPress plugins or themes all the way to desktop software or video games.

While you can use EDD’s free version, when selling software you’ll want to make use of our Software Licensing and Recurring Payments extensions.

  • Software Licensing handles license codes, activations and renewals. It makes it a breeze to release your software to the public, control access, and easily release updates.
  • Recurring Payments takes care of the subscription billing that often often goes with software. It automates subscription/recurring payments with automatic monthly or annual billing (as well as less common formats like daily, weekly, etc).
WordPress, EDD, Software Licensing, and Recurring Payments Logos

Grab a Professional Pass to simplify and grow your business with EDD and Software Licensing + Recurring Payments. 

You also get more than 50 other powerful Extensions to add features like email marketing integration, product reviews, and cross-sell/upsell.

➡️ Learn more about a Professional Pass


Conclusion

Good work! You’ve learned about the wacky, sometimes dreaded, ZIP file automatically un-zipping issue. You know why it matters to customers and how to work around it.

We know this will help you as you grow your business or side hustle.

We have tons of resources for digital creators like you. If we compressed them into a ZIP file, it’d still be way too big to download. So stick around on our blog, subscribe to our emails, or bookmark us!

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Joe Wells

About Joe Wells

Joe is a Marketing Specialist at Awesome Motive. For years he’s been helping people and organizations succeed with WordPress. He is also the founder of an alternative accounting solution for your side hustle called HustleBooks (powered by Easy Digital Downloads). He and his family live and play just outside Detroit. A busy dad, he enjoys running, watching and creating films.

@thisisjoewells

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