How to Extract a Zip File on a Mac

by Amy Dombrower
working late_1 image by think jesters from

A zip file is a compressed file. Files often are zipped in order to make them smaller---to save space on a hard drive and make it possible to them with email. Once you zip a file, the file takes on a .zip file extension and the file icon appears as a zipped up folder. Files may be zipped using a commercial zip utility, but both Mac OS and Windows have built-in utilities allowing you to zip and unzip files. On a Mac, the built-in "Archive Utility" will form a zipped file out of several files, making it possible to send a collection of files in one zipped folder. The utility will also automatically extract a zipped file.

Step 1

Open the Finder.

Step 2

Browse through your computer files to locate a .zip file you need to extract. If the file is attached to an email, open the email.

Step 3

Double-click the zip file on your hard drive, or click "Download" to open the file from an email.

Select "Open with Archive Utility" and click "OK" if prompted. Either way, the utility will open and decompress the zipped files. The files are placed in the same folder as the zip file. If the zip folder has multiple files, the utility will create a new folder containing all the decompressed files.


Photo Credits

  • working late_1 image by think jesters from

About the Author

Amy Dombrower is a journalist and freelance writer living in Chicago. She worked in the newspaper industry for three years and enjoys writing about technology, health, paper crafts and life improvement. Some of her passions are graphic design, movies, music and fitness. Dombrower earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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