How to Zip and Unzip Files on Your Mac

Files you download from the Internet are often compressed or zipped so that they take up less space and arrive much faster than files that haven’t been compressed. You can easily identify compressed files by their extensions, such as .zip (a common standard used in OS X and Windows) and .sit. Before you can use these files, you must learn how to unzip files on mac computers for proper access – luckily the process isn’t that complicated!

How to unzip files on mac computers

Unzipping a file on a mac computer is user-friendly and intuitive. To unzip files on a mac, simply follow the steps below:

  1. Double click the zipped file.
  2. The file will automatically be decompressed by Archive Utility into the same folder the compressed file is in.
  3. Access the extracted files by clicking the appropriate icons.

Alternatively, if the method above does not work, you can right-click on the .zip package, and select Open With > Archive Utility (default).

Apple and third party software

Apple used to include a program called StuffIt Expander to decompress zipped files, but doesn’t now that OS X lets you unzip files (but not .sit files). However, StuffIt from SmithMicro Software still comes in handy for opening other types of compressed files, notably the .sit or .sitx compressed types. Go to www.stuffit-expander.com or www.stuffit.com/mac/index.html to download a free version of the software or to splurge for the Deluxe version. In addition to compressing files, StuffIt Deluxe lets you encrypt and back up files.

Meanwhile, you can archive or create your own .zip files through OS X, which is useful if you’re e-mailing a number of meaty files to a friend. Right-click (or Ctrl-click) files you want to compress inside Finder and choose Compress Filename. The newly compressed files carry the .zip extension. The archive is created in the same location as the original file and is named originalfilename.zip. You can also choose File→Compress. If you compress a lot of files at once, the archive takes the name Archive.zip.

By default, compressed files are opened with the Archive Utility. It appears in the Dock (in Leopard) while the files are being unsqueezed, unless you choose to open them with Stuffit Expander or some other program.

How to zip files on a mac

On the flip side, you can also archive or create your own .zip files through OS X, which is useful if you’re e-mailing a number of meaty files to a client or friend. Follow the step-by-step instructions below to easily zip files on a mac:

  1. Right-click or Ctrl-click the multiple files you want to compress (whether on the desktop or inside the Finder).
  2. Select Compress Filename from the pop-up menu.
  3. The files are now compressed in a .zip extension and the archive is created in the same location as the original file name, except with the .zip appended to its name.

On some Apple computers, you can also compress a file by simply choosing File→Compress. If you compress a lot of files at once, the archive takes the name Archive.zip.