Mac OS X: Controlling Compressed Files

| TMO Quick Tip

As I’m sure many of you are aware, you can compress files and folders from within Mac OS X to make them smaller for emailing or uploading. Do this by right-clicking on the item in question in the Finder and choosing Compress [item or number of items].

There’s also an option to do the same thing under Finder’s File menu if you’re more that type of person.

On the other hand, when you download a compressed file, you’ll double-click it to see its contents, which’ll spill out in the same location as the original file.

All pretty normal, right? Here’s the thing, though—if you don’t like how these so-called archives function, you can alter some of their behaviors to your liking. It’s just not obvious how. OK, it’s completely, totally, irrevocably un-obvious how.

To get started, go to Macintosh HD > System > Library > CoreServices, and open the application called Archive Utility. This is what Mac OS X uses by default for all your compressing and uncompressing needs.

Once it opens, go to the menu item Archive Utility > Preferences.

When the preferences window appears, you’ll note it’s divided into two sections that are separated by a line.

The top choices apply to what happens when you expand an existing archive; the bottom ones apply when you’re creating one yourself. So you can decide where to put expanded files, for example, or where to save any new archives you create. My favorite thing to change is to make Archive Utility move the original compressed files to the trash after I’ve expanded them.

This saves me a lot of trouble in having to go back and clean up those archives after I’ve already gotten the files I need out of them. So tweak these preferences as much as you’d like, and your archives will start acting more like you want them to. Pesky little devils.

 

 

Big thanks go out to Jay Nelson, editor of Design Tools Monthly, for suggesting this tip!

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Comments

weatherc

That’s great, and thanks for the tip!

I just wish there was one more preference available, which would be the option to save an archive of a folder without the Mac OS X information. This would reduce the number of phone calls I get from Windows users who, for some reason, always go into the wrong folder when they expand the archive and tell me, “The files are corrupt. They won’t open.” “Go into the other folder.” “Oh. Thanks.”

ziploc

I just wish there was one more preference available, which would be the option to save an archive of a folder without the Mac OS X information. This would reduce the number of phone calls I get from Windows users who, for some reason, always go into the wrong folder when they expand the archive and tell me, ?The files are corrupt. They won?t open.? ?Go into the other folder.? ?Oh. Thanks.?

I use CleanArchiver just for this reason, check it out…

http://www.sopht.jp/en/cleanarchiver/

Melissa Holt

Hey weatherc,

I don’t have a PC to test this out on, but I wonder if it would solve your problem if you toggled the “Use archive format” option to “Zip archive.”

I’d certainly be curious to know!

?Melissa

weatherc

Melissa, I just gave that a try, and the answer is no. It still creates the nasty little “_MACOSX” folder that flummoxes every PC user I send files to. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

ziploc, thanks for suggesting CleanArchiver. I’ll need to do some research on it.

webjprgm

Melissa, I just gave that a try, and the answer is no. It still creates the nasty little ?_MACOSX? folder that flummoxes every PC user I send files to. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

The _MACOSX folder is the resource fork, which Macs have and Win / Linux does not.  My low-tech solution is just open the archive on a Win/Linux machine, delete those, then re-archive it there before sending to a non-tech-saavy user.  You could probably also remove all resource fork content on the Mac before compressing, but I haven’t tried that.  Or use a program that strips those for you.  Does CleanArchiver do that?

weatherc

The _MACOSX folder is the resource fork, which Macs have and Win / Linux does not.  My low-tech solution is just open the archive on a Win/Linux machine, delete those, then re-archive it there before sending to a non-tech-saavy user.

Since I don’t actually have a PC on my desk (I had to go to a co-worker’s computer to run my test), that wouldn’t be a practical everyday solution for me.

smile

ilikeimac

Wow, awesome tip. I had no idea about these options.

However, I got most of these options, plus the ability to expand tons of other archive formats by installing The Unarchiver. It seemlessly takes over as the default handler for Zip, RAR, TAR, GZip, and dozens of other file types, and it’s just as unobtrusive and fast as the default archive utility. My favorite feature is that it will prompt you for a destination for the files if it can’t write to the directory where the archive is located; this is much much friendlier than failing and forcing you to copy the archive to a writable folder then open it.

iJack

I also have set The UNarchiver as my default for handling DMGs, ZIPs, RARs, etc. 
Now if only my launch services wasn’t broken…

Claude

Hi Melissa and everybody,

Nice tip as always Melissa. I made a right-click on > Archive Utility > Show Package Content > Resources There is a “Archives.prefPane”. Double-click on it and you have Archive Utility installed in System Preferences. Have a nice day.

Melissa Holt

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

Claude, that is an excellent tip. I appreciate you posting that!

?Melissa

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