Mac 101: Create Zip Files


Before converting to Mac I ran Windows, which to my knowledge, has no built-in capability to create zip files forcing users to download and install a third party application. After converting to Mac it took me several years to realize that OS X had the built-in functionality to create zip files, which delighted me!

To create a zip file in OS X (Tiger or Leopard):

  1. Right click on the file or folder you would like to zip
  2. Select “Compress … ” or in Tiger “Create an Archive of …”

Creating zips is great if you heavily rely on email for your main form of communication; instead of attaching several documents to an email I make a new folder, name it properly, drop in all of my files, and zip it. Then I log into my favorite email client and attach the one zipped file instead of several single files, which saves me time and is easier for both me, the sender, and the receiver who now only has to download one file.


Tom Bodetti

Yes, but what about our poor windows friends, when I send out zip files for production, online, MAC osx, creates all these (really ugly and useless) resource forks, which are great if your sending it to another MAC user, but confusing for our poor windows brethren.

hey take a joke, laugh, I played with a utility to create zip archives that stripes out those nasty, mac only files, but I think I would rather just have that option, to strip it, from the contextual menu,


I tried to create a .zip of 11 pdf files I had this way, byt ‘compressing’ them in Leopard, and it made an file, that LOOKED like a zip file, but the size was not reduced at all….

Can anyone tell me what i’m doing wrong? Or suggest a program I should use? I need to zip and send something fast!

Darrell Etherington


You should be able to open the archive just fine, but you’ll have a “_MACOSX” file and a “_MACOSX” folder in addition to the original files you created the archive from on the Mac.


Only problem is that the zips you create aren’t very windows friendly (some Mac system files always find their way in).

Anyone got a solution for that?


Thanks for the tip, Jenny. I, like you, thought you still had to use WinZip to zip stuff on Windows. Anyway, your post, combined with the comments, has been extremely helpful. Keep ’em coming!


Mac OS was the LAST OS to have a .zip compression utility built-in. Remember PKZip? It was ugly and cumbersome, but it was there long before the Mac OS had it.


gosh, Jenny, what were you using? Windows 3.1? That’s a cheap shot at Windows who has had built-in zip for a long time!


@elpres @ Josh: same thing with me, I haven’t used Windows in a VERY long time, but when I used to use it I thought you had to install a 3rd party app.


@Josh Built in to Windows Explorer beginning with WinXP. So, probably about 99% of Windows machines at this point.

Josh Pigford

@elpres: Is that in all versions of Windows? Or just Vista? I know back when I used windows I always just used WinZip thinking Windows didn’t have anything available. But I could very well have just missed it. :)

@Jim: Thanks for the tip for Mail. The tip obviously still applies for other uses, though.


You realize that if you attach a folder to a message in Mail, Mail will transparently zip it for you, right? You’re making it needlessly complicated.


On Windows: select files, right click, “Send to”, “Compressed folder”

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