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How to Unzip Files on Mac

How to Unzip Files on Mac

How to Unzip Files on Mac

Unzipping files on a Mac is a straightforward process that can be accomplished in a few simple steps. Whether you're dealing with a .zip, .rar, or other compressed file formats, this guide will walk you through the process, ensuring you can access the files you need with ease.

Understanding Compressed Files

Before we delve into the process of unzipping files, it's important to understand what a compressed file is. In essence, a compressed file is a type of file that has been reduced in size to save storage space or to make it easier to send over the internet. These files often come in formats such as .zip or .rar, and they can contain one or more files or folders.

While compressed files are incredibly useful, they need to be 'unzipped' or 'extracted' before you can access the files or folders inside. This is where the process of unzipping comes into play.

The Built-in Method: Using Archive Utility

MacOS comes with a built-in tool called Archive Utility that can handle most compressed file formats. This tool is straightforward to use and doesn't require any additional downloads.

To unzip a file using Archive Utility, simply locate the compressed file in Finder and double-click it. The Archive Utility will automatically open and extract the file or folder, placing it in the same location as the compressed file.

Dealing with Other File Formats: While Archive Utility can handle .zip files with ease, it may struggle with other formats such as .rar. In these cases, you may need to download a third-party app such as The Unarchiver or WinRAR for Mac.

These apps work in a similar way to Archive Utility, but they support a wider range of file formats. Simply download and install the app, then right-click on the compressed file and select 'Open With' followed by the name of your chosen app.

Unzipping Files from the Terminal: If you're comfortable with using the Terminal, you can also unzip files using command line instructions. This can be a quicker method if you're dealing with a large number of files, or if you prefer to work in a more 'hands-on' way.

To unzip a file from the Terminal, first navigate to the directory containing the compressed file using the 'cd' command. Once you're in the correct directory, type 'unzip' followed by the name of the file, and press enter. The file will be extracted into the same directory.

Using Terminal Commands for Other Formats:

Just like with Archive Utility, the Terminal can struggle with file formats other than .zip. However, there are additional commands you can use to deal with these files.

For example, to extract a .rar file, you can use the 'unrar' command followed by 'x' and the name of the file. If you're dealing with a .tar.gz file, you can use the 'tar' command followed by '-xzf' and the name of the file.

Dealing with Password-Protected Files

Sometimes, you may come across a compressed file that is password-protected. This means that you'll need to enter a password before you can extract the files or folders inside.

Both Archive Utility and most third-party apps can handle password-protected files. When you attempt to unzip the file, you'll be prompted to enter the password. Simply type in the password and press enter to proceed with the extraction.

If you're using the Terminal, the process is slightly different. After typing the 'unzip' command and the name of the file, you'll be prompted to enter the password. Type it in and press enter to proceed.


Unzipping files on a Mac is a simple process that can be accomplished using either the built-in Archive Utility, a third-party app, or the Terminal. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can easily access the files and folders contained within any compressed file.

Remember, while compressed files are a great way to save space and make file transfer easier, they need to be handled correctly to ensure the integrity of the data inside. Always make sure to extract files before attempting to use them, and never open a compressed file from an untrusted source.

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