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Mac Archive Utility: how to compress and decompress archive files and is there an alternative?

Mac Archive Utility: how to compress and decompress archive files and is there an alternative?

In today’s digital world, managing files efficiently is paramount for every Mac user. A common task that comes up frequently is the need to compress and decompress archive files to save on space or to securely transfer data. This article is your go-to guide to understand how to utilize the Archive Utility on Mac, along with exploring alternative applications including the versatile Commander One. Let’s streamline your file management process effectively!


Common Scenarios:

Organizing Your Files into Archives πŸ“¦

  • Reducing clutter by merging multiple files into a single archive for easier organization.
  • Creating backups of important documents and media by compressing them into archive files.
  • Making file transfer more feasible by shrinking file sizes before sharing them electronically.

Expanding Contents for Access πŸ“‚

  • Opening received archived files to access their contents for review or editing.
  • Extracting necessary files from a downloaded compressed package for installation or usage.

Ensuring File Security πŸ”’

  • Compressing sensitive information within password-protected archives to prevent unauthorized access.

Step-by-Step Guide. Best Archive Utility For MacOS:

Method 1: Using Archive Utility (Compress) πŸ—œ

  • Select the files or folders you wish to archive.
  • Right-click and choose ‘Compress [filename]’ from the context menu.
  • The Archive Utility will automatically create a .zip file in the same location.

Note: This method maintains the original files and adds a compressed version alongside them.

Conclusion: The Archive Utility’s compress feature is effortless and quick for basic file compression needs.

Method 2: Using Archive Utility (Decompress) πŸ“¬

  • Locate the .zip file you want to decompress.
  • Double-click the file to initiate the expansion process.
  • The contents will be placed in a folder named after the archive, in the same location as the .zip file.

Note: The Archive Utility handles most common archive formats but may not work with some third-party formats.

Conclusion: Decompressing files with Archive Utility is almost automatic, making it accessible for all users.

Method 3: Using Third-Party Apps (Commander One) πŸš€

  • Install Commander One from the Mac App Store or the developer’s website.
  • Open Commander One and navigate to the desired files or folders.
  • Select the items, right-click, and choose ‘Compress‘ or ‘Extract Here‘ accordingly.

Note: Commander One offers enhanced control over the compression and decompression process, including support for various formats.

Conclusion: Commander One is a robust alternative for users needing advanced features or support for additional archive formats.

Useful info: Discover the best way to upload large files to Amazon S3.

Method 4: Using Keyboard Shortcuts 🌐

  • Select the items you want to compress on your Mac.
  • Press ‘Ctrl + Click’ or use the ‘Cmd + Alt + I‘ shortcut to bring up the context menu.
  • Choose ‘Compress [items]’ to create a .zip file.

Note: Use ‘Spacebar‘ to preview .zip files before decompression.

Conclusion: Keyboard shortcuts offer a quick and convenient method for compressing files without navigating through menus.

Method 5: Adjusting Archive Utility Preferences βš™

  • Open the ‘Finder‘ menu and click on ‘Preferences‘.
  • Go to the ‘Advanced‘ tab.
  • Customize settings such as ‘Save Archive‘ location or ‘Keep expanding‘ option.

Note: Adjusting these settings can streamline the process according to your preferences.

Conclusion: Tweaking Archive Utility settings can optimize the compression and decompression experience on Mac.


Precautions and Tips:

Efficiency and Compatibility πŸ”—

  • Use Finder integration to quickly access Archive Utility functions directly from Finder windows.
  • For cross-platform file sharing, always choose a universally compatible format like .zip when compressing files.

Storage and Security πŸ’Ύ

  • Compressed files can significantly reduce the amount of storage they occupy on your Mac or in the cloud services such as iCloud.
  • It’s a good practice to scan decompressed files with antivirus software to avoid security risks.

Unlocking More Potential

There is more to file compression than simply reducing file sizes. Users can leverage advanced options such as setting passwords for encrypted archives or splitting large archives into smaller, manageable chunks. For those who deal with various file types, exploring apps such as The Unarchiver, Keka, or WinZip for Mac might offer the required versatility and security. When compressing files, consider the purpose of the archive. If it’s for a backup, ensure you maintain a copy in a different location, and if it’s for sharing, consider the recipient’s ability to open the file type you are sending.


In summary, whether you are looking to reduce clutter on your Mac, secure sensitive information, or prepare files for transfer, Archive Utility and its alternatives, like Commander One, provide ample solutions to manage your archiving tasks. Remember to keep abreast of new applications and updates to make the best out of your file management workflows.


The Unarchiver is a widely regarded archive utility for macOS, offering extensive format support and easy integration with Finder.

It automatically detects and adjusts for various file encodings, ensuring seamless access to files from different regions or systems.

Key features include broad format compatibility, speed, integration with macOS services, and user-friendly interfaces.

Yes, it's frequently updated to ensure compatibility with the latest macOS versions. Check their homepage for updates.

Absolutely, it's one of the most reliable tools for opening RAR files, among many other archive formats on macOS.

Keka not only extracts files but also compresses them, offering a dual functionality that is useful for managing large files. Visit the Keka homepage.

Most utilities offer a Finder extension during installation, allowing you to extract or compress directly from the Finder's context menu.

macOS users often encounter ZIP, RAR, 7z, TAR, and GZIP, among other formats, for both personal and professional file sharing.

Yes, macOS has a built-in tool called Archive Utility that can handle common formats like ZIP without additional software.

Yes, macOS comes with command-line tools like tar and unzip, and you can also install others like 7za via Homebrew.