I couldn't have been more wrong. So, if you're a "Zip Newbie", then keep reading...
What is a .zip file?
Basically, a .zip file is made when someone wants to take a large file (or multiple small ones) and compress it into one file that takes up less space. Don't ask me about the math. It just works. Zip files look like this... they have a zipper. Clever huh?
Here's a silly analogy that can explain it's basic use:
You have a flight to catch and you can only take one piece of luggage. However, you've got like 6 different bags... one for shoes, one for clothes, one for all your make-up & jewelry, one for TPT stuff, your purse, and another one for shoes. The airline really just cares that you fit everything into one bag... and that the bag actually fits on the plane. You cram all 6 of your bags into one giant one and [with a little prayer and use of full body weight] you now have one bag... that is somehow magically smaller than your original 6 put together. The TSA doesn't even flinch when you check it. You get on the plane and head to Hawaii to see my friend Nicole. Once you're there, you unzip your suitcase and unpack your six smaller bags. Yay!
Seriously, all you computer geniuses can just hold your comments. I know there's more to it, but that's basically how it works. The plane, in this case, is email, TPT, file sharing sites, etc. Sometimes you have to .zip a file in order for it to "fit on the plane." I know gmail only lets me attach up to 25MB, so zipping makes it easier to send multiple files sometimes. I might even have to send separate zipped files if I have something ridiculously large (like 10 sets of clipart) and my email won't accept it. :) Zip files do have a size limit. I believe it's around 4GB, so don't try zipping your entire iTunes collection into one file.
Once you do it a few times, then you'll get the hang of it. It's really easy and quite efficient. I've given some more details and directions below.
Here's a visual. See?! Zip files are just made up of other files you already know how to use. They're just crammed into an ugly purple suitcase. Don't be scared.
Select all the files you want to zip together and then right click. Select "Send to Compressed File." It's super easy.
There are various ways and different computers have different programs for it. Most newer models come standard with unzipping capabilities. If your computer doesn't, then there are a wide variety of free downloads that will allow you to unzip files. I had WinZip on my last pc. You can purchase fancier programs to do this, but I wouldn't unless you're a big time zipper/unzipper. Once you have your program, you'll use that to unzip. If your computer already has the capability, then here are some video tutorials:
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<<<On a PC
This one to the left is for Windows 7. Sorry he has somewhat of a robot voice. It's a good video though... very simple and quick.
<<<On a Mac
This one is a video tutorial for a Mac. This seems to be a 10 year old, but it was the simplest and shortest video I could find. Some of the others were cuh-razy! I don't have a mac, so let me know if this one is completely wrong.
Ok, I hope that helped any of you who have been scared of .zip files. They're not scary at all. If you've never tried it and want to, then you can download this clipart set from my TPT shop to practice on.... or any other .zip files you might find online.