Keka: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Compression and Expansion Utility With Advanced Features

Keka - The full featured file archiver.
Courtesy of Jorge Garcia Armero

I’ve been looking for file archiving utilities that provide a bit more control over the compression or expansion of files and folders than OS X’s native file archiving utility. I’ve already mentioned a few in our guide to zipping and unzipping files, but today, Keka came my way via a reader's suggestion, so off I went to check it out.

Pros

  • Free, although a small donation is appreciated.
  • Supports quite a few compression and extraction formats.
  • Can exclude common OS X files not needed by other systems.
  • Supports automatic file splitting to keep file sizes manageable.
  • Can also create ISO and DMG images.

Cons

  • Drag-and-drop feature doesn't allow you to add files beyond the first drop.

Keka is available from both the Mac App Store, where its price is listed as $1.99, and the Keka project home site, which provides a free version of the app, although I highly recommend either making a small donation or buying it from the Mac App Store, to help support the developer.

Keka is a file archiving utility based on p7-zip compression core. In its default state, Keka is set up to create zip archives, but it also supports a number of compression and extraction formats, including:

Compression

  • 7z
  • Zip
  • Tar
  • Gzip
  • Bzip2
  • DMG
  • ISO

Extraction

  • RAR
  • 7z Lzma
  • xy
  • Zip
  • Tar
  • Gzip
  • Bzip2
  • ISO
  • EXE
  • CAB
  • PAX
  • ACE

Because of its wide support for various formats, Keka is a great choice for those of us who work with multiple operating systems, and run across file archives not native to OS X.

Using Keka

Keka launches as a single-window app that allows you to select one of the seven compression formats that can be used. Each compression format has various options you can configure, such as the compression speed, which really affects the weight of the compression, from highly compressed to lightly compressed, or even no compression, which you would use just to group files together.

Depending on the compression format, you can also encrypt the compressed file, or exclude OS X special file types, such as resource forks and .DS_Store files. You'll also find the options to specify where compressed files are stored, whether the original files that were used in the compression should be deleted, and, when expanding files, where the expanded files should be stored. The available options make Keka a very versatile archiving app.

Once you have the desired options configured, you can simply drag a file or folder onto the open Keka window, or onto Keka's dock icon, to expand or compress the files. Keka is smart enough to know if it should compress or expand, at least most of the time. You can also disable Keka from automatically guessing what to do based on file types being dragged onto the app, and instead configure the app just to expand or just to compress, regardless of file type.

Keka also supports a contextual menu plug-in that allows you to use Keka directly from a Finder window, and view a pop-up menu by right-clicking on a file or folder. Unfortunately, the contextual menu support is a separate download, so if you need this added capability, be sure to locate the option on the developer's web site.

Keka works well, and didn't exhibit any problems with the many tasks I threw at it. It was able to expand some old RAR files I have, as well as some CAB files I moved over from an old Windows installation. When it came to working with native OS X formats, Keka didn’t slow down. In fact, depending on the settings you choose, Keka can be very fast at compressing and extracting files.

Keka is $1.99 on the Mac App Store, or free (donations encouraged) from the developer's web site.

See other software choices from Tom's Mac Software Picks.

Published: 3/7/2015