How to Open Zip Files on a Mac Computer

Written by nan east
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How to Open Zip Files on a Mac Computer
Mac computers will unzip files compressed in the zip format. (zipper image by Radoslav Lazarov from

Zip files are compressed files. The amount of compression varies, but reducing the size of a file isn't the only useful aspect of zip files. If you're sending a group of files by e-mail or over a network, or making a backup copy, it's handy to zip them up into one file rather than send multiple files. The zipped file will carry a ".zip" extension at the end of its name. Recipients can unzip the file on a Mac or Windows PC to access the files it contains. From Tiger (OS X 10.4) to later versions of the operating system, the Mac operating system zips and unzips files without additional software.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Double-click on the .zip file you wish to open on your Mac. If the file contains multiple files, the Mac will create a new folder with the same name as the .zip file in the same location. If the .zip file only contains a single file, the Mac will create a new file with the same name.

  2. 2

    Move your cursor to the new folder, using your mouse or touchpad, and double-click on it to open it and view the files it contains.

  3. 3

    Double-click on an unzipped file you wish to open. The file will open on your Mac screen if you have appropriate software to handle that type of file.

Tips and warnings

  • You can zip files as well as unzip them on Macs. On Macs running Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) or Leopard (OS X 10.5), right-click on the file by holding down your "Ctrl" key when you click and choose "Compress" from the menu that appears on the screen.
  • You can unzip a properly formatted .zip file on a Mac, but you can't always open the files it contains. It depends on the type of file and the software on your Mac. The TextEdit software that's standard on Macs will open Word documents if you don't have another word processor that will handle the task. Preview, also included on Macs, opens PDF files and standard image formats, including .jpg, .png, .gif, .hdr, .tiff, .psd, .pict, .png, .bmp and .raw files.

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