Zipping and Unzipping Files on Your Mac

File Management


Zipping a file creates a compressed version of the file that is considerably smaller than the original file. The zipped version of the file has a .zip file extension.

This guide will help you to:

Enable/Disable Automatic Zipping of Files

When you download a file from the internet, your Safari browser automatically unzips the file. This can cause problems when you try to download certain files - for instance, a Moodle backup file - because it is created using the zip compression tool. There are several reasons why you may want to disable the auto-unzipping of zip-compressed files. Remember that you can always enable or disable it in a few simple steps.

  1. Locate Safari dropdown menu in the Menu bar.
  2. Select Preferences.

  1. From the General tab, at the bottom, there should be a checkbox that says Open “safe” files after downloading.
  1. Uncheck the box.
  1. This will prevent Safari from automatically opening the zip file.
  2. Opening a zip file unzips the file.

Note: You have just changed your browser default setting for downloaded media files, PDFs documents, and archives (zipped/compressed files). To restore it to the original setting, follow the steps above and select the option to enable it. However, these steps could be different if you are using a different browser than Safari.

Manually Zip Files

Manually compressing files allows you to only select the files from a folder that need to be included in the zip file.  

  1. Select the files you want to zip.
  2. Right click on the selected files.
  3. Select Compress * Items, where * is replaced by the number of files you have selected.

Manually Unzip Files

Manually decompressing files is the way to unzip files so that they can be accessed as needed.

  1. Select the zip file.
  2. Right click on the file.
  3. Select Open With > Archive Utility.

For more information, contact the IT Help Desk - (208) 282-4357 or email 


This work was done by Instructional Technology Resource Center at Idaho State University and is licensed under the Creative Commons Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit Attribution Noncommercial 3.0 United States or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.