How to Zip and Unzip Files and Folders on a Mac

File compression is included in macOS

What to Know

  • Zip a single file or folder: Control-click or right-click it and select Compress item name.
  • Zip multiple files or folders: Shift-click to select them. Control-click or right-click files and choose Compress.
  • Unzip an archive: Double-click the archive.

This article explains how to zip and unzip files and folders on a Mac using the Archive Utility built into macOS Monterrey (12.3) through Mac OS X Mountain Lion (10.8).

How to Make a Zip File on Mac for a Single File or Folder

Compress and decompress a single file or folder using Finder to access the Archive Utility built into Macs.

Apple hides the Archive Utility because it's a core service of the operating system. While this utility is tucked away, Apple makes zipping and unzipping files and folders extremely easy by selecting them in the Finder.

  1. Open Finder and navigate to the file or folder you want to compress.

  2. Control-click or right-click the item and select Compress item name from the menu that opens.

    Path to compress a single file in Finder
  3. Look for the compressed version of the file in the same location as the original file. It has the same name as the original file with a .zip extension.

    The Archive Utility zips the selected file and leaves the original file or folder intact.

Zip Multiple Files and Folders

Compressing multiple files and folders works about the same as compressing a single item. The main difference is the name of the zip file.

  1. Open the folder that contains the files or folders you want to compress.

  2. Select the items you want to include in the zipped file. Shift-click to select a range of files or command-click to select nonadjacent items.

  3. Right-click or control-click any one of the items and select Compress.

    Compress option for multiple items in Finder drop-down menu
  4. Find the compressed items in a file called, which is in the same folder as the originals.

    If you already have an, a number is appended to the new archive's name: Archive, Archive, and so on.

How to Unzip Files

To unzip a file or folder, double-click the zip file. The file or folder decompresses in the same folder as the compressed file.

If the zip file contains one file, the new decompressed item has the same name as the original. If a file with the same name exists, the decompressed file has a number appended to its name.

This same naming process applies when a zip file contains multiple items. If the folder contains an Archive, the new folder is called Archive 2.

Usually, you use the Archive Utility without launching it. However, if you have a large number of files to compress or decompress, you should launch the utility and drag and drop files and folders on it. The Archive Utility is located at System > Library > CoreServices > Applications.

Third-Party Apps for Zipping and Unzipping Mac Files

The built-in compression system that can zip and unzip files in macOS and OS X is relatively basic, which is why many third-party apps are also available. A quick look at the Mac App Store reveals more than 50 apps for zipping and unzipping files.

If you want more file compression features than Apple offers in its Archive Utility, these third-party apps might help:

Was this page helpful?