How to Zip ‘Compress’ and Unzip ‘Uncompress’ Files on macOS

A zip file is a collection of one or more files or folders that are compressed into a single file. It saves storage space on the computer and keeps all the files organized. A compressed file is much easier to transfer through flash drive or email. Most of the software downloads on the server are in zip files to save storage space for server. In this article, we will walk you through the steps compress (zip) and uncompress (unzip) files on your macOS.

Zip files on mac

Zipping/Compressing Files on macOS

Most of the operating systems have a feature to compress the files and folders into a zip file. Mac OS uses Archive Utility for this feature. When a user clicks the compress option, the Archive Utility will open, compress the files, and then quits automatically. The process is easy to use but there is much more to it as shown below.

How to Zip a single file or folder

  1. Locate the file on your system that you want to compress
  2. Right-click on the file and choose “Compress [filename]
    Zip a single file on mac
  3. Your file will be compressed into a zip file with the same name but .zip extension in the same directory/folder.

How to ZIP/Compress Multiples Files on a macOS

  1. Locate the files that you want to compress and select files by Click + Drag to highlight or hold Shift key and Click each file
  2. Right-click on selected files and choose “Compress 3 items” (number depends on the count of your files).
    Zip multiple files on mac
  3. A zip file will be created with the name “

How to Create a Password-Protected ZIP File on a macOS

  1. Hold Command and Press Space to open Spotlight, type Terminal to search and Enter
  2. Change directory to where files are located by using the command:
    cd desktop

    (you can put your path in place of the desktop)

  3. Then type the command for making a password protected zip file:
    For file put the filename in last with extension

    zip –e appuals.png
    Password-protect a single file into a zip file

    For folders type -er and the name of the folder:

    zip –er appuals
    Password-protect a folder into a zip file
  4. Now when you open or unzip the file, it will ask for a password.

How to Change Default Location of Zip files on a macOS

  1. Hold Command and Press Space to open Spotlight Search, then type Archive Utility to search and press Enter to open
  2. With Archive Utility running, hold the Command and Press comma (,) key to open Preferences. You can also open it from the menu bar as shown below
    Location option in Archive Utility Preferences
  3. You can change the directory of both compressed and decompressed files to whatever you want.

Unzipping files on macOS

Just as the Archive Utility is used for making zip files, it is the same for unzipping in Mac OS. When you open a zip file, it will automatically decompress in the same folder or the location you set for it.

How to Uncompress/Unzip a file on a macOS

  1. Locate the zip file you want to unzip.
  2. Right-click on the file and choose Open or you can simply double click the zip file
    Unzipping a zip file in mac

How to View ZIP/META File Information without Extracting or Uncompressing a File

  1. Hold Command and Press Space to open Spotlight, type Terminal to search and Enter
  2. Change directory to the file location that you want to check by command:
    cd desktop
  3. You can check the information by two different commands:
    unzip –l
    Check the zip file info through Terminal

Alternative Utilities with Extra Features

You can also check some of the best utilities on Mac Store for zipping and unzipping. Most of the utilities will provide additional features where user can directly send the zip file through email or save it to cloud drive. You can view inside the zip files with these utilities without decompressing it. Most utilities support the drag and drop feature. Some of the worth mentioning utilities are Better Zip, StuffIt Expander, Winzip, iZip, and Keka

Alternative Archive Utilities for Mac

Sometimes the default utility may get an issue in expanding the zip files like “Unable to expand zip file“.


Kevin Arrows

Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.
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How to Zip ‘Compress’ and Unzip ‘Uncompress’ Files on macOS

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