How to Download a ZIP File in Python

Have you ever wondered how to download a ZIP file in Python? It is a common task for Python developers to download and manipulate files, and the ZIP file format is a widely used file format for compressed files. In this article, we will explore the steps and code required to download a ZIP file using Python. We will cover the basics of Python’s built-in libraries and modules, and provide you with a step-by-step guide to successfully download ZIP files in Python.

Understanding ZIP Files

Before we dive into the code and tools that will help us download a ZIP file in Python, let’s first understand what a ZIP file is. A ZIP file is a compressed file format that contains one or more files or directories that have been compressed to reduce their file size. ZIP files are commonly used for file transfer and storage, as they can reduce the file size and simplify the process of sending or storing multiple files.

One of the key benefits of using ZIP files is that they can be easily manipulated and expanded. You can extract the contents of a ZIP file, add new files to it, or delete files from it. This flexibility makes ZIP files an ideal format for many applications.

Python Libraries for Downloading ZIP Files

Python has built-in support for downloading files from the internet. The urllib and urllib2 libraries provide the tools required to download files from the web. These libraries can handle various types of files, including ZIP files.

The urllib library is a standard Python library that provides the tools for handling URLs. It can be used to download files, upload files, and perform other operations on web resources. The urllib2 library is an extension of urllib that provides additional functionality for working with URL requests and responses.

To use these libraries for downloading a ZIP file in Python, we will need to import them into our code. Here is an example of how to import these libraries:

import urllib.request
import zipfile

The urllib.request library provides the tools for making HTTP requests and handling responses. The zipfile library provides the tools for working with ZIP files, such as compressing files, extracting files, and creating new ZIP archives.

Downloading a ZIP File in Python

Now that we have imported the necessary libraries, we can start downloading a ZIP file in Python. The first step is to specify the URL of the ZIP file. In this example, we will download a ZIP file from GitHub. Here is an example of how to specify the URL:

url = ''

Replace ‘user’ and ‘repo’ with your GitHub username and repository name, respectively. This URL points to the master branch of the repository and downloads it as a ZIP file.

Next, we will use the urllib.request library to download the ZIP file. Here is an example of how to download the ZIP file:

urllib.request.urlretrieve(url, '')

This code downloads the ZIP file from the specified URL and saves it as ‘’ in the current directory. You can specify a different file name or path as needed.

The urllib.request.urlretrieve function returns a tuple containing the file name and the HTTP headers. You can use this information to check the status code of the request, print the headers, or perform other operations on the downloaded file.

Extracting Files from a ZIP File in Python

Once you have downloaded a ZIP file in Python, you may want to extract the contents of the file for further processing. The zipfile library provides several functions for extracting and manipulating the contents of a ZIP file.

To extract a ZIP file in Python, we need to open the file using the zipfile.ZipFile class. Here is an example of how to open a ZIP file:

with zipfile.ZipFile('', 'r') as zip_ref:

This code opens the ‘’ file and extracts all of its contents to the ‘folder’ directory. You can specify a different file name or path as needed.

The zipfile.ZipFile class provides several methods for extracting files from a ZIP archive. You can extract a single file, extract files to a specific directory, or extract files based on a pattern or filter.

Final Thoughts

Downloading a ZIP file in Python is a straightforward process that requires only a few lines of code. Python’s built-in libraries and modules provide the tools needed to download and manipulate ZIP files, making it easy to work with compressed files in Python.

In this article, we have covered the basics of ZIP files and provided a step-by-step guide to downloading and extracting ZIP files in Python. We hope this article has been helpful in your Python development journey, and that you can use this knowledge to build your next Python project. Happy coding!

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