Recently, I wrote an article: View contents of zip file attachments in Gmail without downloading. That article was specific to ZIP and RAR file attachments to an email received in your Gmail account. Using the method described in that article, you can view the contents of a ZIP or RAR file, which is received by you as an email attachment, without downloading the attachment. The method that I’m describing in this article allows you to view the contents of any ZIP or RAR file that is available on Internet before downloading that file. This may be helpful since sometimes you may be downloading a big ZIP file to later discover that it contained useless files compressed within it. So, the better course is to first see the contents of a ZIP or RAR file online itself, without downloading it; and then, if you’re satisfied with its contents, to download it. This can save your bandwidth and time in downloading unnecessary archive files.
You can do so conveniently, by installing the appropriate extension / add-on in your Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome browsers. Or, otherwise, it is possible to do so even without using any browser extension, and that too in any browser as is being explained at the end of this article.
Add-on for Google Chrome browser for viewing contents of ZIP and RAR files:
You can do so by installing Open ZIP and RAR With GDocs extension in your Google Chrome browser. Once this extension is installed, you’ll be in a position to view the contents of any ZIP and RAR file easily using the GDocs (Google Docs) feature. If you’ve a free Google Account, you’ve Google Docs too. But, I tested this extension, and found that you can view contents of ZIP and RAR files using GDocs, even if you’re not logged in to your Google Account. This means that this method will work even if you don’t have any Google Account.
So, install this Open ZIP and RAR With GDocs extension in Google Chrome. After that, whenever you find any ZIP or RAR file on the Internet, right-click the URL link to that file. A context menu will appear; click Open with Google Docs option in this menu. It will take you to a new Google Docs page where the contents of the ZIP or RAR file will be shown to you.
Add-on for Mozilla Firefox browser for viewing contents of ZIP and RAR files:
ArchView add-on for Firefox can open ZIP and RAR archive files online without downloading the whole file. So, if you’re using Firefox browser, install this add-on to view contents of ZIP and RAR files online before downloading the file.
How to view contents of ZIP and RAR files in ANY browser and WITHOUT any browser extension?
Well, the method that I’m describing now in this section will work in any browser and that too, without needing any browser extension. Here it goes:
(1) User any browser. Visit the web page where the link to a ZIP or RAR file is given.
(2) Right-click the link, and from the context menu, copy the link address to such ZIP file. Suppose, this link address is: http://www.example.com/test1.zip
(3) Now, append this link address as a suffix to the following URL:
So, now the combined link becomes the following:
Ensure that there is no space in between in this combined link. Copy and paste this combined link in the address bar of your browser. You’ll get the details of the contents of such ZIP (or RAR) file in a web page, with the help of Google Docs.