The Unarchiver: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Windows, Mac, Linux, Amiga: Nothing Stops the Unarchiver

The Unarchiver

Dan Agren

The Unarchiver from Dan Agren is one of those utilities that will make you wonder how you ever got along without it. The Unarchiver is an easy-to-use app for decompressing or unarchiving many different types of archived files.


  • At last count, 60 different archive formats supported
  • Easy to use
  • Can be used with Apple's Archive Utility
  • Handles obscure formats as well as formats used by other computing platforms


  • While the app supports 60 archive types, you have to select which one the app will be used as the default expansion app

In essence, The Unarchiver serves the same purpose as Apple's built-in Archive Utility, which zips and unzips Mac files. But the Unarchiver handles so many different types of file compression formats that it makes Apple's Archive Utility look like a student project for a programming class.

Archive Utility has one advantage over The Unarchiver: it can create compressed archives, something The Unarchiver can't do. But if you have an archived file in a format other than the few that Archive Utility can work with, then The Unarchiver is the app for you.

The Unarchiver can work with Apple's Archive Utility, letting you choose to have the Archive Utility handle routine file unzipping, while The Unarchiver takes care of the formats used on other computing platforms, obscure file types, or older formats no longer seen very often.

It even does a great job with old archiving methods from the early days of the Mac OS, such as BinHex, Stuffit, MacBinary, DiskDoubler, and Compact Pro. Altogether, I counted 60 different file compression formats that The Unarchiver can work with, including most Mac, Windows, Linux, and even Amiga file formats.

Using The Unarchiver is as simple as double-clicking the archive you wish to expand. If Apple's Archive Utility can't handle it, the Unarchiver will launch and present you with a standard Open dialog box, where you can select the location for the files to be extracted to. You can even create a new folder just for the extracted files.

You can also use The Unarchiver's preferences to preset a folder to always use for extracting files to, use the current folder that the archive is in, or the setting I use, which is to always ask where to extract the files to. There are also a number of other preferences that let you modify the basic behavior of The Unarchiver, but no matter how you configure the app, it remains easy to use.