How to Zip Files in Mac OS X

Jan 10, 2012 - 18 Comments

Ever wondered how to make a zip file in Mac OS X? We recently demonstrated how to password protect zip archives, but in the comments a reader asked a more simple yet completely valid question: “what about just making a standard zip file?” Well, making a zip archive on a Mac is easy, and with the compression tools built directly into OS X there is no need to download additional software or add-ons to quickly create zips and compress either a single file, a group of files, or an entire folder. If you’re unfamiliar with creating zips on the Mac, here is exactly how to do it, and quickly.

How to Make a Zip Archive in Mac OS X

You can use this to create zip files of files, folders, or both:

  • Right-click on a file, folder, or files you want to zip
  • Select “Compress Items”
  • Find the newly created .zip archive in the same directory

Make a Zip File in Mac OS X

If a single file is being zipped, the zip archive will maintain the standard file name but append the .zip extension. If more than one file is being zipped, the archive will be named “Archive.zip”, and if multiple archives are created, they will be named successively “Archive 2.zip” and so on.

Extracting Zip Archives

Opening zip files is even easier, all you need to do is just double-click on the archive and it will expand automatically with Archive Utility in the same folder the archive is stored in. For example, if you’re extracting an archive named “ZippedSample.zip” in the ~/Downloads/ directory, the resulting extracted folder would be named “ZippedSample” within that same ~/Downloads/ directory.

Create a Zip from the Command Line

Not interested in using the standard Finder and file system approach? Zip archives can also be created from the command line by using the terminal command ‘zip’ with the following syntax:

zip archive.zip file.txt

Another simple way to create an archive from the command line is to use the Terminal’s drag & drop support, type out ‘zip’ as usual but then drop in the file(s) to compress into the Terminal window.

Unzipping from the command line is also very simple, with the easy ‘unzip’ command:

unzip archive.zip

You can specify paths and other details if interested, but if all you’re looking to do is extract a file there isn’t much more to do than the simple unzip command.

While it’s good to know the command line alternatives, most users are best served using the friendlier Mac Finder based approaches, either with zipping from the right-click method described above, or unzipping by just opening the file directly.

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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

18 Comments

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  1. ArtFeel says:

    Seriously?
    Need a post “How to create new Folder in Mac OS”

  2. Sue Dunham says:

    Pretty useless, though. 4,125,328 bytes compressed to 3,998,283 bytes

  3. Henning says:

    Is it possible to create a Zip-Archiv without the hidden MACOSX Folder? 

    Greetings Henning

  4. Hipolito says:

    You should publish something more useful…Instead of how to create a ZIP file why not “how to create a splitted ZIP file” which is sometimes needed (Try to upload a file bigger than 100Mb to M$ Skydrive)….

  5. Eric says:

    @Henning
    You can try adding -rf (–datafork)

    zip -df foo.zip foo.txt

    To exclude certain files. Use: -x “xxxx”

    For your example it would be:
    zip foo.zip foo.txt -x “*__MACOSX”

    (the quotes (“) are ⇧+2 incase this comment field transforms them into something else. :))

    If you zip a folder? you can add -r … zip -r foo.zip foo … to include subfolders.

    In terminal type: man zip
    to bring up the zip manual.

    @Hipolito
    You can try:
    zip yourbigfile.zip –out smallzips.zip -s 10m

    That is for 10mb files like: smallzips.zip smallzips.z01 smallzips.z02
    But you could use another compression to make smaller file instead. Look at tar gzip bzip etc. 1 file is always better that 2.

  6. Eric says:

    Sorry… a typo.
    -rf (–datafork) should be:
    -df (–datafork)

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  10. Row says:

    Thank you for your article. I am a college student and have bought my very first Mac lab top. Your article was very useful for me always being a windows user.

    Thank you very much!

  11. King says:

    Thanks, I needed these simple instructions! I used to use Stuffit, but now I can just right click. Great!

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