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How to find compressed files and folders on Windows 10

Files and folders can be compressed to save space on your disk. This compression isn’t the same as zipping a file or using a utility like WinRAR to compress them. Instead, it’s a built-in feature on Windows 10 that you can apply to entire drives, select folders, and specific files. These compressed items are indicated with two blue arrows on the file/folder icon. They can be identified visually however you can also use the Command Prompt to find compressed files and folders on Windows 10.

Compressed files and folders

You can scan entire folders for compressed files and folders. When you scan a folder, it will list the compressed items at its root and not nested items. If the folder you’re scanning has a compressed folder which in turn has other compressed items nested under it, this scan will only list the parent folder that’s compressed. You can use a modifier to find the nested compressed items as well.

Open Command Prompt and use the cd command to move to the folder that you’d like to scan for compressed files and folders.

Syntax

cd "path to folder"

Example

cd "C:\Users\fatiw\Desktop"

Once you’re in the folder, run the following command to get all the compressed items at the root of that folder;

compact

Look through the list of files and folders that Command Prompt outputs and all the items with a C before their name are compressed items.

To view nested compressed items as well as those at the root of the current folder, run the following command;

compact /s

The list of files you get is probably going to be a long one. Command Prompt does let you copy and paste from it so you can paste the output into a text file, or just use > followed by the name of a text file to save the output to.

Compressing files and folders

You can compress files and folders from the Windows GUI but the compact command can also compress them if you run it with the /c modifier. This will compress everything in whichever folder you point it to.

Uncompressing files and folders

You can remove compression from the Windows GUI however, since you’re already using the Command Prompt, you can use the /u modifier with the compact command to remove compression from the current folder. This will remove compression from all items at the root of the folder.

If compressing files and folders seems a bit confusing with compact, it’s best to just go with the GUI options that Windows has. They work just as well.

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