Question: What is a Z File?
Did you find a Z file on your computer and wonder what program should open it? Maybe someone emailed you a Z file but you're not sure how to use it. Perhaps you tried to open the Z file but Windows told you that it could not open it.
Before you can open a Z file (assuming it's even a file format that's intended to be viewed or edited), you'll need to determine what kind of file the .Z file extension refers to.
Answer: A file with the Z file extension is a UNIX Compressed file.
Other types of files may also use the Z file extension. If you know of any additional file formats that use the .Z extension, please let me know so I can update this information.
How To Open a Z File
The easiest way to open a Z file is to double-click on it and let your PC decide which default application should open the file. If no program opens the Z file then you probably don't have an application installed that can view and/or edit Z files.
Warning: Take great care when opening executable file formats received via email or downloaded from websites you're not familiar with. See my List of Executable File Extensions for a listing of file extensions to avoid and why.
Z files can be opened with most zip/unzip programs, a list of free ones you can see in this List of Free File Extractors. Both PeaZip and 7-Zip are excellent, completely free programs with full Z file support.
If you know anything else useful about Z files, please let me know so I can update this page.
Tip: Use Notepad or another text editor to open the Z file. Many files are text-only files meaning no matter the file extension, a text editor may be able to properly display the file's contents. This isn't the case with most Z files, but if worth a try if you're out of options.
If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the Z file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open Z files, see my How To Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for making that change in Windows.
How To Convert a Z File
There are two main ways to attempt to convert a Z file to another file type:
- Open the Z file in its default program and choose to save the open file as another file format.
- Use a File Conversion Online Service or Software Program to convert the Z file to another file format.
The first option involving opening the Z file in its native program is preferable because it's both easier and will probably result in a more accurate file conversion. Of course if you don't have a program that opens Z files, a third-party file conversion tool (the second option) could be very useful.
Important: You cannot usually change a file extension (like the Z file extension) to one that your computer recognizes and expect the newly renamed file to be usable. An actual file format conversion using one of the methods described above must take place in most cases.
Still Having Problems Opening or Using a Z File?
See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more. Let me know what kinds of problems you're having with opening or using the Z file and I'll see what I can do to help.