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Zip files are archives that function as a single compressed package of multiple files, a folder or a single item. Zip files are common when downloading things from the web or elsewhere to a Mac, and while the Zip format used to be largely limited to the Windows world, .zip archives are now commonly created and used on Mac as well OS.
If you get a zip file, you may be wondering how to open the archive to see what it is and extract the internal components of the zip archive. Wonder no more, it turns out that opening and extracting files on a Mac is really easy thanks to the built-in Archive Utility tool.
Remember, a zip file (with a .zip extension) is simply a container containing one or more other files. You don’t really open it if you unzip it to reveal the contents of the zip archive. For example, a single zip file can contain a handful of documents of different file types, or an entire folder of JPG files, or an application, or similar data. The zip file is simply the compressed data presented as a single archive.
How to Open Zip files on a Mac
Extracting a zip file on a Mac is super easy:
- Locate the zip archive file in the Finder of the Mac
- Double-click the .zip archive file to extract the zip archive *
- When done, the extracted content will appear in the same folder as the original .zip archive
That is it. In the example above, a zip file named ‘Archive.zip’ was extracted to create a folder named ‘Archive’ that contains the contents of the original zip file.
The built-in Archive Utility tool in Mac OS will open the zip archive and extract the files, usually they will be placed in a folder with the same name as the zip archive, minus the .zip file extension.
You can also extract zip files by right-clicking (or Control + clicking) a .zip archive and choosing “Open”, or if you have installed third-party unzip utilities (more on that later), you can you choose “Open with” and select another archive program.
The Mac also includes a very easy option to create a zip file or even create a password protected zip file.
* If the zip archive is password protected, the correct password must be entered before extracting the zip file.
How to Open Zip archives in Mac OS with The Unarchiver
Another option is to use the popular third-party archive extraction tool called The Unarchiver to open .zip archives on Mac. To do this, you must first download and install The Unarchiver.
- Download The Unarchiver from the Mac App Store
- Start The Unarchiver and link it to archive files
- Double-click on a zip archive to open it with and decompress with The Unarchiver
After The Unarchiver is installed and started, it wants to be associated with all known archive types on the Mac. This allows the third-party tool to open zip archives and other items in Mac OS that the standard Archive Utility may not support, which is another advantage. The Unarchiver can open zip archives as well as open RAR files on Mac, zip CPGZ files, bz2 bzip, .7z files, .sit, gzip, gz, tar and many other file archive formats you may encounter when downloading data from the internet or in emails. That massive support for extracting a wide variety of file types is one of the many reasons The Unarchiver is a great third-party app to add to a Mac.
Whether you use the standard Archive Utility tool that comes with Mac OS to open zip files or go for the third-party solution like The Unarchiver is complete up for you, both open a zip file with a simple double click option.
Extract Zip files with Terminal
The ‘unzip’ command is available in the Terminal to also extract archived zip files. The syntax is simple, just point the command to a zip archive to extract it to the current working directory.
unzip ~ / Downloads / example.zip
You can also create a zip file from the command line if you prefer, using the ‘zip’ command and designating a file or path to a folder, as discussed here.
Can you view the contents of a zip file without extracting the archive?
You may be wondering if it is possible to view the contents of a compressed zip archive without bothering to extract the actual archive. In fact, you can do this easily using multiple methods, some of which are built right into Mac OS through the command line. You can read how to view the contents of zip archives without extracting them here if this interests you.
How do you actually create a zip file on Mac?
You can read a detailed tutorial On how to create zip files in Mac OS here if you are interested. The short version is that you can select a file or group of files, right-click and choose “Compress” to create a quick zip archive of those selected items. It’s very easy.
Do you have any other questions about zip files? Let us know in the comments!
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