How to Zip and Unzip Files on the Mac Platform (Part 2)

This post is Part 2 of “How to Zip and Unzip Files.” To view Part 1 click here.

Q. What is a Zip file and why should I use it?

A. Zip is a common file format used for data compression and archiving files. The Zip format was first implemented way back in 1989 and in later years adopted by both Microsoft and Apple for incorporation into their operating systems.

In the early days of the internet, file transfer speeds and storage capacity were only a fraction of our current capabilities. Zipping Word or Excel files could reduce their size by up to 80% and the benefits were obvious. Even today, compressing files helps to dramatically speed transfers and reduce storage demands as well as ensure that files attached to an email message can still be opened successfully at their destination.

Benefits of zipping files:

  1. Collect a number of files into a single, easily managed archive file.
  2. Reduce the size of a file or group of files.
  3. Ensure the integrity of the files attached to an email message.


Q. My Apple computer does not have WinZip. How do I open a “zipped” file?

A. Zip compression is now a built-in feature of the Mac operating system, so the WinZip application is not required to zip or unzip.

To open or unzip a zip archive in Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) and Lion (10.7):

  1. Double-click the zip archive file.
  2. The unzipped file or folder will be placed at the same folder level as the zipped file.

Screenshot of how to open a zip archive on Mac OS X.


To zip a file or folder of files in Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) and Lion (10.7):

  1. Right-click a file or folder of files.
  2. Select “Compress” from the pop-up menu.
  3. The result is a new Zip archive file with the same name as the original file or folder, but with the “.zip” file extension appended to the name.

Screenshot of how to create a new zip archive on Mac OS X.