Legroom's Universal Extractor is a free extraction tool designed to let you decompress and extract files from virtually any archive, including some you probably haven't heard of before. What it can't do is create archives; the developers are quite clear that Universal Extractor isn't meant to take the place of utilities like 7Zip or WinRar. Instead, it bundles together a variety of useful backend utilities. It's a great addition to your Windows toolkit, and great to have around when you need it, even if that's not very often.
Universal Extractor has a user interface that is pared down to the essentials: File, Edit, and Help menus; file selection and destination fields; and OK and Cancel buttons. The Help button led to the program's Web site, which offered instructions, screenshots, technical details, and a list of supported formats ranging from .ace to .zoo, including .7z. The site also offers an active forum providing translations, feedback, and support. On the program's Edit menu, we clicked Preferences, which opened a compact list of settings such as a language menu, debug file directory field, and check boxes for Format-Specific Options. Using this tool could hardly be much simpler: We browsed to an archived file to open, selected the destination directory (the default is the same as the source file) and pressed OK. Universal Extractor did the rest. When we opened the target folder, our files had been extracted, as we'd expected.
Universal Extractor proved a simple, versatile tool and a good performer. In fact, we only wish we'd had some really obscure archives on hand to give it a challenge. But we plan to keep it around for those rare but regular occasions when we come across a file type that our default archive tool can't extract.