Wednesday, April 25, 2007


This is probably a stupid question but it is one that I am about to pull my hair out with. I am into the digital scrapbooking and am trying to download and install fonts that are stored in “zip” files. My question is this: What are Winzip files and how do I use them? - Joann B Muscle Shoals

There is no such thing as a stupid question. Actually, that’s not true. People ask me stupid questions all the time. Why, someone once asked me if I could translate a computer’s processor speed from megahertz to miles per hour. But this particular question isn’t stupid at all. So, please stop abusing your hair for a moment and read on.

WinZip is a computer program that can group and compress files so that they take, on average, 50% to 70% less space and, therefore, take 50% to 70% less time to download from the Internet. When you download and “unzip” this document, the same algorithm reverses the process and restores the document to its original form.

The story behind the creator of zip compression is morbidly interesting. The original technology was developed (or stolen from others depending on who you believe) by a fellow named Phil Katz back in 1986. Mr. Katz called this technology “Phil Katz Zip Program” or PKZip. The product’s popularity exploded among users of Electronic Bulletin Board Systems – one of the precursors of the World Wide Web. Money started pouring in to Katz and, almost overnight, the former loner and computer hobbyist found himself rich, famous and mildly disturbed.
Most of us would handle sudden wealth and fame pretty well but personal struggles and alcoholism quickly took their toll on Mr. Katz. His dead body was found in his luxury condo surrounded by bottles of liquor amongst knee deep garbage at the ripe old age of 37.

I’m sure that is way more than you ever wanted to know about zip files but the truth is, I needed some interesting fluff to fill this column because zipped files are actually quite simple to deal with (thanks to Bernie Delinski for teaching me this “fluffing” trick, by the way). Windows XP has built-in support for "zipped" files. To uncompress a zipped file, you simply double-click on the file and it will open a folder containing the contents of the unzipped file. From there, you can click on an icon to install software or, in your case, copy the new fonts to your fonts folder.

If you're using Windows 98, Me, NT or 2000 then you'll need to install software to open Zip files. The most popular choice for this is a program called Winzip. You can download a free evaluation version from There are plenty of free Zip programs available from one of my favorite places to get free computer stuff:

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