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How to Unzip Files/Folders on Mac

Updated on Friday, June 14, 2024

iBoysoft author Connie Yang

Written by

Connie Yang
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee

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Summary: This definitive guide will help you unzip files or folders for free to access the content. Also, it gives ways to create a ZIP file on Mac for faster transportation. - From iBoysoft

how to unzip files on Mac

ZIP is a file format that works to compress one or more files together for less storage space consumption and faster transportation. So, you can find that files or folders you've downloaded from the Internet or received from Mail are often in a ZIP format.

By default, you need to extract the compressed files before accessing the content. If you are puzzled about how to open a ZIP file, this article can help you. It will tell you how to unzip files or folders on Mac. Additionally, it shows you how to zip a file on Mac if you need to share some files with colleagues or friends.

Does Mac automatically unzip files?

No. Usually, the ZIP file you've downloaded from the browser or other sources won't automatically unzip on Mac. You need to decompress it manually. 

But if you've set the browser preferences like Safari, it can automatically unzip the packed or zipped files or folders that are downloaded from the web pages.

set Safari preferences to allow automatically unzipping compressed files

How to unzip files on Mac for free?

To open a ZIP file on Mac is not a complicated job. Here are four ways to your try.

Double-click to unzip a file on Mac

  1. Double-click the zipped file to extract it.
  2. Click the icon of the unzipped file or folder to access files in it.

Right-click to unzip a file on Mac

  1. Right-click the zipped file.
  2. Choose Open (or Open With > Archive Utiltity). 
    right click to unzip files on Mac
  3. Click the unzipped file to get the files.

Use Terminal to unzip a file on Mac

  1. Press Command and Space keys together to open Mac Spotlight Search.
  2. Type Terminal in the search box and click to open it.
  3. Type unzip and a space, then drag and drop your ZIP file into the Terminal window.
  4. Press Return/Enter.

Now, you can find that the compressed file is unzipped for your access. This way is useful for you to unzip multiple files and folders on your Mac.

Unzip files on Mac with third-party software

If you have a RAR (Roshal Archive) file or another compressed file that macOS doesn't support, you can't unzip it on Mac by double-clicking or right-clicking it. Even using Terminal can't help you out. But if you need to convert RAR to ZIP on Mac, the Terminal and third-party apps are at your service.

Why can't you unzip a file on Mac?

Unfortunately, your operation to unzip a file on Mac gets stuck or fails. And you receive the error message "Unable to expand zip" on Mac like:

  • Unable to unarchive into Desktop (Error 1 – Operation not permitted.)
  • Decompression Failed

Perhaps, that's caused by the corrupted ZIP file. You can download the file again and then try to decompress it. If the compressed file or folder is RAR formatted, you can't unzip it on Mac. To extract a compressed file that's not supported by macOS, you need to use a third-party tool.

Moreover, since Apple uses the built-in Archive utility that's a core service of macOS to unzip and zip files if the system occurs any errors or has temporary bugs, the unzip process may fail.


How to make a ZIP file on Mac?

Conversely, you can also create a compressed file or folder on Mac. Zipping your large files or folders can boost your transferring speed and simplify transferring operations.

Here's the way to create a ZIP file on Mac for a single file or folder:

  1. Open Finder and find the file or folder you want to compress.
  2. Right-click the file and then click Compress "the file name" from the drop-down menu.

The zipped file or folder that has the same file name as the original file but in a .zip extension will show up there.

If you have multiple files or folders that need to compress, follow this way:

  1. Open Finder and find the files and folders that you prepare to zip.
  2. Choose the files or sub-folders in a folder. You can drag your cursor to select all the items that contain in a folder. Or, you can press and hold the Command key on your keyboard, and simultaneously choose files or folders that are in a nonadjacent display.
  3. Right-click on any one of the selected items and choose Compress from the drop-down menu. 
    how to make multiple ZIP files on Mac 
  4. The compressed files or folders will be stored in a file named Archive.zip and displayed in the same location as the original items.


Zipping or unzipping a file or folder on Mac is a simple job. Apple offers the Archive utility to allow users to compress and decompress files easily and quickly. You can follow the ways mentioned in this article to learn how to unzip files on Mac in different ways and select the one you'd prefer to use. Also, the ways to zip a file or multiple files are offered.

Also read:

Decompression Failed on Mac: What Does it Mean & How to Fix