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7-Zip has multiple .exe files, which one do I use?

Every so often I would forget which way round these were, or would try and use one of the .exe's for the wrong purpose, so thought I would get to the bottom of it and then share in case anyone else is curious about the different .exe's.

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  • "None of them!" j/k but I have come to much prefer Easy 7zip which has shell (right-click) integration and some UX improvements like (optionally) opening the extracted folder and deleting the source archive, all in one step. – brichins Jun 4 at 17:16
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7zFM.exe is the main file you want

  • Technically this is the "File Manager", but I would generally describe this as the "7-zip application"
  • Use this .exe if you want to open a .7z (or other) archive, explore it's contents, extract all or some files/folders
  • Use 7zFM.exe when double-clicking a .7z file and Windows asks you to choose a program ("How do you want to open this file?")

7z.exe is the command-line version of 7-zip

  • Use this .exe when you want/need to use 7-zip via the command-line
  • You could call it a more ‘powerful’ version of 7-zip (you can set quite specific parameters via the command line), however there is no GUI (graphical interface) – double-clicking 7z.exe won't open anything

7zG.exe can probably be ignored by most users, but is useful in a few (more adv.) situations

  • This is the "GUI module" (which admittedly didn't mean a lot to me at first), but in essence is a second command-line version of 7-zip, but this one will display a GUI (visual) progress/output
  • The best way to explain this, and the difference between the main command-line app [7z.exe]…

Imagine you have a 100MB 7-zip archive (one that will take a few seconds to extract), and run the two below commands:

  • 7z.exe x MyArchive.7z -r -o – Extract the archive, progress/messages will be shown in the console
  • 7zG.exe x MyArchive.7z -r -o – Extract the archive, however there is no output to the console, instead a progress window will appear (with a progress bar, time remaining, etc), as if you had extracted the archive from within the 7zFM.exe application.
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