You probably have a file or two that you need to send through email. Maybe you have even a whole bunch of files that you need to send out as a bundle to a friend or colleague over email. You went to send them to someone (or even to yourself) on Yahoo mail or Gmail…only to find out that the mail delivery you sent out was either blocked or had the attachments removed because you tried to send an exe file with the message. Or you sent a zip, rar, ace, or other file that they didn’t like. It became apparent that they scan compressed files for viruses, and when they do, for whatever reason, they decided to block everyone else’s file transfers for their “safety”. Well, for those moments when you absolutely need to be able to send one or many attached files…the answer is to use 7-Zip.
7-Zip is a freeware file archiver that uses lossless LZ-based compression and achieves some of the highest ratios and smallest files for general lossless data compression today. It is also not well known enough to Gmail or Yahoo for them to scan it. This file format does not use the same header information as zip files do, so Gmail and Yahoo cannot automatically recognize nor scan for it. Since it is newer (and is not blocked as of this writing in 2009), you can use it to send files back and forth through gmail or yahoo once you have compressed or created an archive out of them.
The first step is to download the archiver program for free from http://www.7zip.com
(Please note that this program at the time of this writing is only available for Windows at this time. If running on a Mac or other Linux-based system, then you’ll want to use an emulator to run Windows 2000 or higher with appropriate ram and hardware settings. In the future, there may be software ports of the 7zip client available for you to use on Linux and Mac OS X)
Once you have downloaded and installed it, you should run the program from your start menu (it’s called 7-Zip File Manager), and once it comes up on your screen, go to the top menu and select ‘Tools’ and then ‘Options’. On the menu box that appears, you’ll see a bunch of blank boxes that will let you select any known compressed file format that you want 7zip to read and extract from. You don’t have to check anything on this screen except for 7z (we want to make sure that 7zip will read its own file format and windows will recognize 7z files and when it sees them!). If you’re unsure of what you want it to see or not see, or you just want it to only handle 7zip (7z) files, then click the box next to 7z to check it, and then click on OK at the bottom of the box. The box will disappear and return to the main menu. You can now close the program.
To compress a file in an easy spot (for example, under your My Documents folder), just start an explorer box and go to the file. Right click on the file and move the mouse on the context menu that appears to the option that says 7zip. When the mouse is over it another side menu shall appear that has several options. If you just need to compress or encode one file to 7z to send over gmail (an exe file for example), then just click the option that says “Add to (that file name).7z””, and it should automatically create a 7z file out of it for you. The 7z file will be placed under the same directory as the original file you wanted to compress. Refresh the explorer box if you don’t see it there after the 7zip program has completed.
If you need to create one 7z file from many files, then select the files that you would like to compress into one (you can hold the ctrl key on the keyboard down and select the files that you need to). Right-click over one of the highlighted items that you selected to compress, and then select the menu item from the box that appears and tell it to “Add to archive”. A 7zip file manager box will appear. On the top, it will show you the file name that it is going to create and store all those files under as one 7z file (the file name is usually the first or the last file that you selected to compress when selecting multiple files). You’ll have several options on this screen, but for this article you won’t need to worry about any of those to accomplish what we are doing here.
If you’re okay with the filename, then just hit OK. Otherwise, rename the filename you see on the text box, but make sure that the end of it still says .7z
When you click OK, the program will compress the files and create one large 7z file that is usually smaller than the total amount of those files separately (hence yes, they were compressed). Now you can take this file and send it as an email attachment either to someone else or to yourself on gmail.
The person on the other end (if not you) who receives the file will have to have 7zip also to read, decompress, and unpack the original files to save them on their PC. Once 7zip is installed on the machine that will extract and restore the original files, just make sure that 7zip is readable by the file manager program, have them right-click on the 7z file attachment they downloaded from the email you sent them, and tell them to select the option that says “Extract Files” on the menu that appears. They will be able to click on the button on the menu that appears (or type the path they want in the box) for where they want to put the files. Once they’ve selected where they want to put them, they can press the OK button. Otherwise, if they are fine with recreating any files you sent them in the same directory, they can instead use the menu option that says “Extract Here”. If you use the extract-here selection, it will automatically decompress files into the same directory.
Most times, people will want to choose where the files will go. Generally it is best to just use the “Extract Here” option.
That’s all there is to it! You create it, and they extract it using the exact same program on the other side. Gmail’s servers have been able to identify and are pre-programmed to know the exe and zip file formats (they’ve been able to do this for years). 7zip is not yet built-in that way, and thus you are able to send files as you please this way until they do.
If Gmail or Yahoo ever do start to scan for the 7z format and limit it, I will write another article on how you can create and send other file formats that are either compressed, encrypted, or both without you having to use 7-zip to do it.
If the need exists, I will write a program that you can download and use for such a purpose to ensure that the ability to communicate this way remains alive and well for the general public. Enjoy.