Creating zip files on a Mac may seem daunting at first, but you have a few options – and plenty of macOS and iOS tools – available to you. While you may have experience creating a zip file on a Windows-based computer, the process is slightly different on a Mac.
With this guide, you'll be a pro in no time at compressing and extracting files between your Mac, iPad, and iPhone. If you want to secure your zip files with a password, we have instructions for that too.
What is a zip file?
Sending large files can take a long time. Zip files are one way of compressing your data to make it more compact and faster to transfer. The compression can temporarily remove redundancies in the files, which can then be recreated (lossless). Compression can also permanently remove unnecessary bits, but at the expense of a perfect replica (lossy). Another popular form of compressed or archived data is RAR.
When you download a compressed file, you will need to extract or unzip the contents in order to access it.
How to create a zip file on Mac
Creating a zip file on a Mac is quick and easy, as MacOS includes a built-in tool called Archive Utility for compressing and extracting files. You don't need a third-party utility.
Zip a single file
Right click or press Ctrl + tap any file you want to compress and choose Compress (filename) from the pop-up menu.
As shown below, a new zip file will appear in the same folder while keeping the original file.
Compress multiple files
Step 1: Hold down the mouse button or trackpad to draw a box around all of the files you want to compress. Alternatively, you can press the Command key while tapping the trackpad or while pressing the mouse button to select specific files.
Step 2: Right-click or press Ctrl + Tap and choose Compress from the pop-up menu.
A new single archive will appear in the folder. The original files are still retained.
Step 3: To rename the default Archive.zip file name, just right click or press Ctrl + tap the archive and choose Rename. This is useful if you need to create multiple zip files or to make it easier for the recipient to see the contents of the archive.
How to extract a file
Extracting a zip file is about as easy as creating a. Just double click on the file and it will automatically unzip.
Alternatively, you can right-click or press Ctrl + Tap on a zip file, hover over Open With in the pop-up menu, and then select Archive Utility. You can also use a third-party unzip program like The Unarchiver if it's not set as the default tool.
MacOS will automatically create a new folder with the decompressed files in the same location as the zip file.
Isn't the compression working?
If you can't compress files successfully, your file permissions can be the problem. Here is one possible solution:
Step 1: Right click or Ctrl + tap on the file in question and select get information in the popup menu.
Step 2: Select the arrow next to Share & permissions to expand this option as shown above.
Step 3: Make sure your specific account is logged in as an administrator and your permissions are read-only or read-only. Any other setting may not be able to compress the file.
If you are not logged in as an administrator, click the lock symbol and log in with Administrator information. Then change the permissions to "Read & Write" or "Read Only" and try again to compress the file.
Send compressed files to iOS / iPadOS
If you use both macOS and iOS / iPadOS for file management, you may have concerns about sending a compressed file to your phone or tablet. Finally, you are likely to suspect that decompressing files will require additional effort.
Fortunately, there is an easy way to uncompress a file in iOS and iPadOS after sending it.
Step 1: Find the archive in the Files app.
Step 2: Long press the file and choose Unzip from the pop-up menu. Your file will be decompressed immediately.