OS X has the built-in ability to handle ZIP archives, but for other archive types like RAR, Stuffit, and especially 7-Zip, you’ll need add-on software. Luckily, there’s a free alternative in the App Store you can download that will do the trick just fine.

The Unarchiver should be familiar to many Mac users who have ever needed a reliable way to unpack archives that aren’t ZIP files. The Unarchiver will handle an extensive list of archive files far beyond those previously mentioned. Basically, if you have an archive file that you need to unpack, The Unarchiver is your tool.

When you open The Unarchiver, you’ll see its preferences. The first tab is “Archive Formats”. As you can see, there’s quite a few and among the first is the 7-Zip or 7z format. If 7z isn’t already selected, then go ahead and check the box next to it so that you can automatically open 7-Zip archives with The Unarchiver.

If you want to open all archive types supported by The Unarchiver then you can click the “Select all” button. If you change your mind and want to select archives individually, then click “Deselect all”.

Next is the “Extraction” tab, which allows you to choose where you extract archives. By default, The Unarchiver will ask you for a destination folder, but you can also choose the same folder as the archive, or some “Other” location.

There are also options to create new folders for extracted files, set the modification date, and to decide what happens after successfully extracting an archive.

When you successfully extract an archive, you can open the extracted folder, or move it to the trash.

Finally, there’s the “Advanced” tab. You’re unlikely to really need to bother with this so we won’t cover it other than to say that it deals primarily with filename encoding, and the confidence threshold.

As we showed you earlier, when you open an archive with The Unarchiver, by default it will ask you to choose a destination folder. Here, the destination folder is “Documents” but you can navigate to another location or create a new folder in which to place your extracted items.

When you’ve finally chosen your destination and you’re ready, simply click the “Extract” button and the archive’s contents will be dumped into it.

Keep in mind, The Unarchiver only extracts, you cannot create new archives with it, though you can create ZIP archives using the the built-in abilities found in OS X. That said, if you keep running across archive formats (such as the aforementioned 7-Zip variety) that you can’t open, then you should most definitely try out The Unarchiver.

For the most part, the only archive files you’re likely to run into on a consistent basis are ZIP, RAR, and 7z. While OS X has you covered with ZIP files, the other ones might throw you for a loop. Luckily, The Unarchiver makes things easy by providing you with quick way to extract non-zipped archives.

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Profile Photo for Matt Klein Matt Klein
Matt Klein has nearly two decades of technical writing experience. He's covered Windows, Android, macOS, Microsoft Office, and everything in between. He's even written a book, The How-To Geek Guide to Windows 8.
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