Many users password-protect their ZIP files to ensure the security and privacy of sensitive information. But given that you need third-party tools to open a password-protected ZIP file on Windows and Mac, some users might feel confused when it comes to opening ZIP files, especially if they are password-protected.
Read on to learn how to open password-protected ZIP files, regardless of whether you know the password or not. You’ll learn different methods for unlocking your secure ZIP files with ease.
Windows XP and later versions have built-in support for extracting and opening ZIP files. However, you will need a third-party tool to unzip password-protected ZIP files on Windows. One such program is WinZip (for Windows).
Here’s how to open password protected ZIP file using WinZip:
Step 1. Download and Install the WinZip program.
- Locate the password-protected ZIP file on the computer.
- Right-click on the ZIP file, then select the “Extract files…” or “Extract Here” option.
Step 2. You will see a dialog box asking for the password. Type in the correct passcode in the “Password” field. Select “OK” to start the extraction process.
The files will be extracted in the same folder if you have chosen the “Extract Here” option. Or, it will be extracted to the designated folder if you have opted for the “Extract files…” option.
The method mentioned above demonstrates how to unzip a password-protected ZIP file when you have the password. But what if you don’t have the password? Is it still possible to access the password-protected ZIP files?
The answer is yes.
There are multiple approaches to unzip a password-protected ZIP file without a password, and we will cover all of those methods in the following sections:
Method 1. Open Password-protected ZIP File with ZIP Password Recovery
The simplest way to open a password-protected ZIP file without a password is by using a ZIP unlocker tool, such as PassFab for ZIP. The program lets you open various encrypted ZIP, WinZip, 7ZIP, and PKZIP archives using Dictionary, Brute Force with Mask, and Brute Force Attack.
In addition, PassFab for ZIP streamlines the process, making it easy for even the least tech-literates to access your encrypted files without hassle.
Here’s how to open a password-protected ZIP file with PassFab for ZIP:
Step 1. Download and Install the PassFab for ZIP.
- Launch the tool.
- Click the “Add” button on the main interface to browse and select the password-protected ZIP file.
Step 2. Choose a password attack type. You will find three attack types in the PassFab for ZIP program:
- Dictionary Attack: This attack type tries to find the password using a predefined list of words and phrases from a dictionary. You can use the built-in dictionary or import your own custom one.
- Brute Force with Mask Attack: This attack type is suitable if you know some characters of the password. You can set specific parameters (such as character range or password length) to speed up password recovery.
- Brute Force Attack: This attack type attempts all possible combinations of characters. It takes longer to recover the password but has the highest success rate.
After choosing the recovery method, click the “Start” button to decrypt the password-protected ZIP file.
Step 3. Wait for the decryption process to finish. Once PassFab for ZIP recovers the password, it will be displayed on the screen.
Simply copy the recovered password and use it to open the password-protected ZIP file.
That’s how effortless it is to open a password-protected ZIP file with the help of PassFab for ZIP.
NSIS (Nullsoft Scriptable Install System) is an open-source tool for creating Windows installers. It uses script files to determine installer behavior, which files to install, and where they should go. Besides creating installers, NSIS can also extract password-protected files from archives. However, unlike PassFab for ZIP, its success depends on the encryption method, so it may or may not work for you.
Here’s how to open password-protected ZIP files with NSIS:
Step 1. Download and install NSIS on your computer. Note: Use the older version of the NSIS program — as the newer version does not support file extraction.
- Run the program after installing it, and open it.
- On the main interface, choose “Installer based on .zip file” under the “Compiler” section. (Note: if you do not see the option, you have to download the ZIP file extraction plugin from NSIS official site).
Step 2. Import the password-protected ZIP file via File Explorer. And choose to open with NSIS.
- On the pop-up menu, choose where you want to extract the password-protected zip files (the destination folder).
- Then select “Generate.“
Step 3. Once the process is complete, navigate to the chosen destination folder.
You will see a .exe file instead of a .zip file with an NSIS icon. Double-click on the .exe file and follow the setup to install it.
Wait a few seconds, and it will open the password-protected ZIP file without asking for a password.
There are online services that can help you unlock password-protected ZIP files. One example is Password Online-Recovery.
To use Password Online-Recovery, you need to submit your file, and the service will let you know within 24 hours if they successfully recovered the password for your ZIP file. But this method isn’t suitable for users who don’t want to share their .zip files with a third-party server due to potential privacy and security risks. However, the upside is that Password Online-Recovery only charges you if they can actually open the password-protected ZIP file.
Here’s how to unzip password-protected ZIP files using Password Online-Recovery:
Step 1. Go to the official Password Online-Recovery website. On the homepage, choose “ZIP Password Recovery Online.”
- Click the “Browse” button to import the password-protected ZIP file from your local storage.
- Select the “I agree” button after uploading the ZIP file.
Step 2. You can provide any details (like password length, number of characters, and so on) if you remember.
Step 3. Enter your email address in the designated field.
Click “Send” to submit the password-protected ZIP file.
The service will inform you about the recovery outcome through email. You’ll only need to pay if they successfully open the password-protected ZIP file.
You cannot directly open a password-protected ZIP file using the Command Prompt on Windows. However, you can use a command-line tool like John the Ripper to access the password-protected ZIP file without the password.
John the Ripper works with the command prompt to locate the folder containing the ZIP file and runs a sequence of commands to extract hashes and convert them into a format it can understand.
Here’s how to use the John the Ripper to open password-protected ZIP files:
Step 1. Download and Install the John the Ripper program from the official site.
- Extract the ZIP file. And you will find a folder named “Run.”
- Copy the password-protected ZIP file and paste it into the “Run” folder.
Step 2. Open the Command Prompt (type “cmd” in the search bar and press Enter).
In the command prompt, type the following command to access the Run folder:
Note: Replace the “path\to\john\run” in the above code with the actual path to the Run folder. (You can find the actual path of the “Run” folder by right-clicking on it and selecting “Properties” from the context menu. In the Properties window, look for the “Location” field to copy the path).
And press Enter to execute the command.
Step 3. Type the following command to convert the extracted hash into a format that John the Ripper can recognize:
zip2john.exe protectedzip.zip > hash.txt
Note: Replace the “protectedzip.zip” in the above code with the name of the password-protected ZIP file you want to recover.
Press Enter to execute the command.
Step 4. Now type in the following command to decrypt the password-protected ZIP file.
john.exe --format=pkzip hash.txt
Wait for John the Ripper to decrypt the password-protected ZIP file. The program will employ techniques like brute force, dictionary attacks, or mask attacks to try and decrypt the password. The time required for this process will depend on the complexity of the password and the encryption method used.
Once the password has been successfully identified, John the Ripper will display the recovered password in the command prompt window. You can then use this password to open the password-protected ZIP file and access its contents.
Frequently Asked Questions About Password-Protected ZIP File
1. How can I open password-protected ZIP files on Mac?
You will need a third-party tool like Keka to open a password-protected file on Mac.
- Download and Install Keka.
- Drag the password-protected ZIP file onto the Keka interface.
- Enter the password. Click “Done.”
You can find the extracted file in the same folder where the original ZIP file was present. Still, you can also choose an alternative folder if you want.
2. How can I open password-protected ZIP files on my Android or iOS?
- Download and install ZArchiver from the Google Play Store.
- Tap the “File” and import the password-protected ZIP file onto the program.
- Select the extraction option and choose the desired designation of the extracted file.
- Type the password, and click “OK.”
- Download and install iZip from the App Store.
- Import the password-protected ZIP file.
- Enter the password when prompted.
3. How can I open password-protected ZIP files on Mac without the password?
Like Windows, opening password-protected ZIP files on a Mac requires using a third-party tool. While several options are available, most of them demand a more complex understanding and are best suited for tech-savvy users, such as “fcrackzip.”
However, you can still use online tools like “Password Online-Recovery” or “LostMyPass” for easy and quick recovery of password-protected ZIP files.
4. Can I add a password to an existing ZIP file without creating a new archive?
Yes. You can use programs like WinZip to encrypt an existing ZIP file. However, this will re-compress the .zip archive, resulting in a new password-protected ZIP file.
5. Are there any limitations to the above-discussed password recovery methods for ZIP files?
Tools like ZIP Password Recovery use techniques such as Brute Force attack, which is time-consuming and resource-intensive. This means it can take days, depending on the complexity of the password used to create the ZIP file.
Additionally, online services like Password Online-Recovery has size limitations and poses security risks. Not to mention, online services take a minimum of 24 hours to decrypt the password-protected ZIP file — and they may not even succeed in recovering it.
6. Can a password-protected ZIP file be opened if corrupted or damaged?
Some ZIP utilities like WinZip or 7-Zip have built-in repair features. You can first repair the corrupted or damaged files and then open them using the method shown in the guide. However, it is essential to note that successful recovery or access to the ZIP file’s full content may not be possible.
It is easier to open password-protected ZIP files with the passcode. But it is difficult if you do not have the password to unzip a password-protected ZIP archive. However, we have selected several straightforward methods to unzip such files, including PassFab for ZIP, NSIS, online recovery services like Password Online-Recovery, and command-line tools like John the Ripper. These options allow you to access your essential ZIP files.
Choose a method based on your needs and the ease you require with a tool. For example, PassFab for ZIP is the easiest way to open a password-protected ZIP file, making it suitable even for the least tech-savvy users. The second method, online recovery services, may pose privacy and security risks as you have to upload your file to a third-party server. Lastly, methods like NSIS and command-based tools like John the Ripper can be more complex. Therefore, you can select the most suitable method to open the password-protected files that is important to you.