Anybody remember Stuffit? If you’re a long time Mac user then you already know that, back in the day when file sizes were important because storage was small and expensive, Stuffit was the de facto compression utility for the Mac.
Mac OS X changed all that. With functions rooted deeply in Unix, OS X came with a built-in archive tool which created standard Zip archives, and the Mac could do both with ease; zip up a file or folder of files, compressed all pretty into a single, smaller file. And decompress the whole shebang with a double click.
What was not to like? Zipped files were something of a standard, and Stuffit files pretty much disappeared from the Mac (only to be resurrected as an app that could archive– compress and decompress– in almost any kind of archive format. For a price. A few years after that I was turned onto Better Zip which I use often and love because it’s so, well, Mac geeky. It does everything and uses nearly every compression and decompression format I’ve ever run into. For a price.
If you don’t want to pay the piper for the premium version of an app that does it all, and you find the Mac’s built-in Archive utility– Zip only– to be a bit limiting despite the price tag (free), the choices become enormous; good and bad. If all you want to do is spend a few bucks to get decent compression and decompress formats, iPack works and gets updated more frequently than some.
If you’re only worried about decompressing archive files, then I recommend Dr. Unarchiver. It decompresses all the major archive formats and plenty I’ve never heard of. And it’s free. But it does not archive or compress files itself. For that, you need yet another application.
A quick look for ‘zip’ or ‘archive’ on the Mac App Store will reveal a few dozen contenders for your Mac’s Application folder. Many of the decompression utilities are free, including another good one, The Unarchiver. Again, it doesn’t compress files. Plus, you’ll find plenty of abandonware– apps which have not been upgraded in a few years. Those are a must to avoid.
A good example of this phenomenon is Total Manager which has a stiff price tag for an app that hasn’t been updated in two years. Total indeed. It compresses and decompresses file formats galore– all the well known and much used formats, and a long list of those I’ve never heard of before. Plus, it plays audio and video files. And does FTP and SFTP to upload and download files. I know, right?
I found an interesting duo of apps, too. One is called Zip Archive and it merely zips up files into an archive much as macOS Sierra does, but adds a password option. It’s priced right, too. What if you want to decompress the archive. Then use the companion unZip Archive tool. Two separate tools where one should do.
The famous WinZip from Windows also has a Mac version. $30 for plenty of five star reviews. There are so many of these archive– compress and decompress– tools available for the Mac, and so many which only do one or the other, and so many which have been abandoned by their developers (any app not updated in a year or two I consider to be abandonware) that finding a tool that does the deed for less is an exercise in futility. That’s why I stick with Better Zip. It’s not the easiest to use because there are so many options but the developer pays attention and it works.