Mac user trying to zip a folder

Macs ship with a robust built-in compression tool that can help you zip and unzip files and folders. Plus, it’s very easy to use! For added functionality, you can always try a third-party app as well.

First, let’s talk about the built-in Archive Utility tool. It’s not an app, but a feature deeply integrated into the Finder app.

How to Zip Files and Folders on Mac

To get started, open the “Finder” app, and locate the files or folders that you want to compress. If you’re selecting multiple files, hold the Command key while selecting the files.

Once you’ve made the selection, right-click on it to view the context menu. Here, click the “Compress” option.

Click Compress to zip files on the Mac

If you’re using multiple files, the Compress option will also show you how many files you’ve selected.

Once the compression process is finished, you’ll see a new compressed file in the same folder. If you compressed a single file or folder, the archive will carry the same name, with a “.zip” extension.

If you compressed multiple files, you’ll see a new file with the name “Archive.zip.” You should rename the file to make it easier to find.

RELATED: The Fastest Ways to Rename Files on macOS

You can now move the compressed Zip file to another folder or send it along as an email attachment.

How to Unzip Files and Folders on Mac

Unzipping an archive is even easier. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Zip file that you downloaded on the internet or something that you compressed yourself.

Navigate to the archive in the Finder app and double-click the Zip file. After several seconds, the file or the folder will decompress in the same folder.

Double click on the Zip file to unzip the file or folder on the Mac

If it was a single file, you’ll see that the file will return to its original state, with the name intact. If you are decompressing a folder or a Zip file that contained multiple files, it will show up as a folder with the same name as the archive.

How to Change Archive Utility Settings

Even though Archive Utility has no visible UI, you can change some of its settings. To do this, open Spotlight on your Mac (Command+Space), and search for “Archive Utility.”

Search for Archive Utility in Spotlight Search

Once it opens, click the “Archive Utility” item from the menu bar, and click the “Preferences” option.

Click Preferences from Archive Utility menu

Here, you’ll be able to change the behavior of the Archive Utility in the Finder app. You can create a new default destination for all compressed and uncompress files as well as choose to move archived files to the Trash.

Archive Utility Preferences

Third-Party Alternative: The Unarchiver

If you’re looking for more features, or if you want to uncompress different formats like RAR, 7z, Tar, and so on, try The Unarchiver. It’s a completely free utility that supports more than a dozen popular and obscure archive formats.

The Unarchiver formats list

The app lets you change the default extraction destination. Additionally, it lets you choose to create a new folder for extract files, automatically open the folders once the extraction is completed, and enable an option to move the archive to the Trash once the extraction is done.

RELATED: How to Open 7z and Other Archive Files on OS X

Khamosh Pathak Khamosh Pathak
Khamosh Pathak is a freelance technology writer who specializes in tutorials. His work has also been published on iPhoneHacks, Zapier's blog, MakeUseOf, and Guiding Tech. Khamosh has seven years of experience writing how-tos, features and technology guides on the internet.
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.