Chromebooks have always lagged behind Windows, macOS, and Linux when it comes to handling local files, partly by design. Fortunately, Google is improving support for archived files in Chrome OS.
Chromebooks could already handle .ZIP, .TAR, and a few other file formats, but beyond that, I needed an Android app from the Play Store or a Linux-based utility. 9to5Google reports that Chrome OS 101, which began rolling out last month, includes support for many more types of archive files. Files created in the .7Z format popularized by 7-Zip can now be opened (unless password protected), along with some ISO files (commonly used for CD and DVD images). Finally, .TAR files are now supported, but not the more common .TAR.GZ or .TAR.XZ formats.
The current drawbacks of the new supported formats are annoying, but Google isn’t done yet. The Chromium team said 9to5Google Support for over two dozen other formats is in the works, including .TAR.GZ, .GZIP, and other common file types. In the meantime, you can use an Android app like ZArchiver on your Chromebook, or use the unzip or tar commands in a Linux terminal.
Google has been improving many areas of Chrome OS recently to better compete with traditional platforms like Windows and Mac. Warnings about faulty USB Type-C cables have started rolling out, and Google is developing more Chromebook-focused apps like Screencast and Cursive. Slowly but surely, Chromebooks are integrating features that have been available on other platforms for years, while retaining some of the simple design and accessibility that made them popular in the first place.