How to quickly zip and unzip files and folders on Mac

Compressing files into a ZIP folder is a great way to reduce their size and make them easier to share via email or other means. Additionally, there may be instances where you need to zip entire folders to save space on your computer.

Fortunately, your Mac comes with a built-in tool that allows you to do just that, and can also be used to unzip files and folders that you receive. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of quickly zipping and unzipping files and folders on your Mac without using a third-party application.

Zip and unzip files

How to zip files and folders on Mac

  1. Navigate to the spot in Finder on your Mac containing the files or folders you want to zip.
  2. Select the files or folders you want to zip. You can use Control + A to select all items in a folder, hold Shift and click the first and last file or folder to select a range, or hold Command and click them one by one.
  3. Once you select the files or folders, right-click or hold the Control key and click.
  4. In the context menu, choose Compress. Note that the term used is “compress,” not “zip,” although the intent is the same.
Compress Items to zip files on Mac

You will then see the items zipped into a single file within that same folder. By default, the file is name Archive, but you can change it. Either right-click and choose Rename or click the name and type the new one.

Zip Archive File on Mac

How to unzip a ZIP file on Mac

There’s nothing to do when you need to open zip files except double-clicking. The Archive Utility that you use to zip files unzips them for you as well. So, you don’t need a third-party app, and you don’t need to open the macOS Archive Utility because it handles those compressed files for you automatically.

Once you double-click to unzip a file, a folder will pop up in the same spot. Open the folder, and there are the compressed or extracted files.

Unzip Archive File on Mac

Archive Utility preferences

Since you don’t have to open the Archive Utility to use it, this application is tucked away in your system folder. But there are a couple of settings that you can change for it if you like.

The quickest way to access it is to click Go > Go to Folder from your menu bar. Then, copy and paste this path into the pop-up: /System/Library/CoreServices/Applications and hit the enter key or click Go.

You’ll see Archive Utility in the list, so double-click to open it. Then click Archive Utility > Settings or Preferences from your top menu bar.

Archive Utility in System Folder on Mac

In the pop-up window, you can make a few changes for the compressed files you receive and those you compress yourself. You can change the final location to Desktop, Downloads, or any other folder using the Save expanded files and Save archive settings. And you can decide what action to take after unzipping and zipping with the After expanding and After archiving drop-downs.

Archive Utility Preferences on Mac

Just close the preferences window when you finish making your changes.

Third-party apps

If you find yourself zipping and unzipping files more frequently and need extra features, there are apps on the Mac App Store to check out:

Get the app, control-click or right-click on the file and use the Open With option to open the ZIP file in the third-party software.

Remember, you never have to open the Archive Utility tool to zip or unzip files on your Mac. The application works behind the scenes. So, you can compress and decompress all you like without worry.

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