Utility • Updated on July 27, 2020
Editor’s note (July 27, 2020): Recently Betterzip turns 5. The big upgrade we have tested, and we are confident it’s still our top pick!
Wait. What? Archiving files? Easy peasy, right? Compressing / decompressing files and folders is a time honored routine for us.
And archive utilities are so common and widely used that every OS has something built-in.
The case is no different for macOS either. You can find an Archive Utility on every Mac that is shipped.
But the question is, is it enough?
Is the native Archive utility on macOS enough?
I mean, if you are someone who sends an email once a month with a few attachments, it would be. However, there are times when you have to really compress files, you know. You want to squeeze it so tight that you want to save as much space as possible. This is where the issue begins.
We are not saying that the native Archive Utility is bad. It’s just not enough for people who need a bit more control over the compression process. While Archive Utility integrates so well with macOS, it does not offer any kind of control.
You can’t even change the format of the archive. By default, it becomes an Archive.zip file. And, what’s more, you can’t even think of changing the compression ratios. As we said earlier, sometimes, you need a tougher compression even if it takes time.
Now, these are just some reasons why you need third-party macOS apps for archiving and unarchiving files.
Choosing the best archive/unarchive app for Mac
Hands down, we all need control over the compression process. But, it does not mean compromising every other value-adding thing. So, we used a simple yet effective framework to pick the best Mac apps to archive and unarchive files.
- We needed the file archive app to have an Intuitive User Interface. This means the user can use the tool without being a coder or anything.
- The archiver/unarchiver app should offer Different Levels of Compressiontechniques and formats. It’s a great feature while choosing between time and performance.
- Integration with macOS is also essential. We want to have quick-access actions in Finder and in the Services menu — so that archiving/unarchiving wouldn’t require us to open the app.
- Additional Features like compression testing, presets, and integration with other apps also add value to the overall user experience.
- The best archiver/unarchiver app for macOS should also support Different Levels of Encryption. We also appreciate an option to password-protect compressed files with ease.
- The archive utility should support Various File Types. It should be able to read not just those standard files like ZIP and RAR, but also unique ones like TAR and 7zip.
With these ideas in our mind, we have chosen some of the best Mac apps you can count on. Don’t worry — we have included both free and paid options from the market.
Disclosure: We sometimes use affiliate links which means that, at zero cost to you, we may earn a commission if you buy something through our links.
The pick — BetterZip 5
We think BetterZip 5 is the synonym for a powerful archive utility for Mac. It packs many features that you wish the in-built Archive Utility on Mac had. It also checks all the central boxes when it comes to integration, features, security, and more. However, there is more to BetterZip 5 than simple archiving and unarchiving. These additional features are one of the reasons why BetterZip 5 topped our list.
Compared to the native utility on Mac, you get a variety of features and advanced compatibility. These are some of the reasons why a lot of people go for BetterZip. With the latest version, the developers have brought an even better integration and other elements into the package.
What Makes BetterZip 5 Great?
Let’s have a look at some features that make BetterZip 5 the best archiving tool for Mac.
Unlike the macOS Archive Utility, BetterZip 5 comes with a fully-fledged interface. When combined with system-wide integration, you can archive/unarchive files through different methods. You can drag and drop to-be-compressed files into the interface. In a single click, BetterZip 5 would compress the data and save the archive file. This interface is excellent if you want to create a ZIP file by bringing files from different locations. It is also easier to manage when you have to create subfolders, arrange related data, etc.
According to the developers, BetterZip 5 can open and archive more than 30 types of archive files. Some of the additional features may vary, but the basic tasks work fine. We don’t want to put the full list here. Though it’s not a dedicated tool, you can use BetterZip 5 for opening and editing ePub files as well. You can get a peek into the ePub file and make smaller edits.
As we said, BetterZip 5 offers complete support for enterprise-level encryption. If you want to email a file or upload it to cloud services, you should consider encrypting the data using BetterZip 5. It uses the best level of encryption — AES 256. To make the processes useful and intuitive, the developers have also added a built-in password generator and manager.
BetterZip is so intelligent that it can suggest strong passwords as you create an encrypted document. It will also save these passwords and apply them when you open that file again.
Presets are perhaps the best thing you would find in BetterZip 5 while managing multiple archived files. You can set up different sets of actions to happen when you open a ZIP file. If you choose the particular preset while opening, the actions would go according to the command. And, BetterZip 5 Presets also work with the other automation/productivity apps out there.
Integration & Productivity
As you may have noticed earlier, BetterZip 5 integrates very well with the macOS system. You can access quick archive/unarchive commands from the BetterZip submenu from the contextual menu. Besides, BetterZip 5 lets you place your presets on the Finder window. This means you can do the compression in a single click — without even opening the actual software. BetterZip 5 also works fine with other productivity apps like Alfred, LaunchBar, DropZone, and Hazel.
Pros and cons
- Performance-friendly User Interface
- Well-integrated with macOS
- Plenty of Customization, Control, and Features
- Third-party integration options
- The UI could be simpler
- Lacks cloud-based sync features
Availability & pricing
BetterZip 5 is available for macOS devices only. It works fine with almost all the Macs out there, and it works fine on macOS Catalina as well.
BetterZip 5 costs $24.95 for the full version, but you can always download the free variant.
What’s more, it’s also available on Setapp.
We’d stick to what we said in the beginning: BetterZip 5 is the best Mac app to archive and unarchive files! It blends some of the best features and an intuitive UI, providing the best experience. In a showdown, the reasons to recommend BetterZip 5 outweigh the reasons not to.
So, on any day, BetterZip 5 will be a better alternative to the native Archive Utility.
Also great — WinZip for Mac
If you recently shifted from Windows to macOS, you’d have heard of WinZip. Before OSs started including their utility software, WinZip was the best way to create and extract archived files. As it turns out, WinZip for Mac is an excellent app for archiving and unarchiving files too. Let’s have a quick look.
Just like we saw in the case of BetterZip 5, it’s incredibly easy to set up and start using WinZip for Mac. The whole installation process takes just a few seconds. One problem is that we could not find the quick access entries in the Services menu. It means that you have to open WinZip for Mac every time you have to archive files. You can, however, open archived files using the Open With menu.
To unarchive files, you can open the file using WinZip for Mac or drag the file into the interface. There are a few advantages: the software automatically unzips the file and shows you a preview. So, you can know which file you are saving even before you do. Once you finish previewing the file, you can simply extract the files. Or, if you are trying to make a new archive, hit Save to proceed.
On a related note, however, we loved the User Interface. It’s great for moving files between the archive and different directories on your Mac.
What Makes WinZip 5 Great?
WinZip for Mac does not have as many customization options as we’ve seen in BetterZip. Still, it’s somewhat good to go.
WinZip for Mac supports only three major compression formats when it comes to archiving. You can choose between ZIP, ZIPX and LHA, depending on the intensity of compression you need. You can also pick one from 128-bit and 256-bit Encryption tech. Unlike BetterZip, however, WinZip for Mac does not have any advanced options while archiving. You can, however, use the app to open a wide variety of archived files.
Direct cloud upload
An impressive feature we found in WinZip for Mac was the ability to upload compressed files directly to the cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and ZIPShare. You have to connect the accounts once, and everything else goes like clockwork. Another advantage with WinZip for Mac is that the files you archive here would work seamlessly on PC as well.
We also spotted a few additional tools inside the WinZip for Mac interface. For instance, you can watermark, encrypt and resize files from the main interface itself. These are quite handy when you want to email a ZIP file or do something else for the web. Unlike other tools we’ve seen, WinZip for Mac also lets you pick from multiple viewing options.
The compatibility factor
This is one of the areas where WinZip for Mac has to improve drastically. While the application can extract almost all types of archived files, it doesn’t offer many choices when it comes to archiving. You’re restricted to just three models. That is, even if you need a relatively higher form of compression, there is nothing to do about it in WinZip for Mac.
We also think the Integration part of WinZip for Mac could be better. Of course, you can open files using the app but creating an archive must have a simple alternative option. It’s the lack of integration that actually removes some of the crucial features from the package, we think. During the review, we found no support for third-party productivity apps either.
Pros and Cons
- Simple UI
- Archives work well with Windows PCs
- Useful features are built-in
- Not that Compatible
- Integration could be better
- Lacks customizability
Availability & pricing
WinZip is available for macOS, iOS, Android, and Windows. You can choose as per your needs and enjoy the same UI everywhere.
WinZip for Mac costs $35.34, but there is an evaluation version that you can try for an extended period.
As we said, WinZip for Mac is also great, but it’d never be a replacement for our top pick. You should go for WinZip if you need a tool that you are familiar with. There are obviously some downsides such as the lack of customization, but it’s still a worthy consideration.
Other paid options
Obviously, BetterZip and WinZip are not the only archive/unarchive tools for macOS. If you are ready to pay, you can consider some of the following options too.
Are you looking for an inexpensive, easy to use archiver app for macOS? Then, you should definitely consider something like Archiver 3. Despite the small footprint, Archiver 3 is quite powerful. For instance, you will be able to archive files into 8 different formats, including RAR that requires a third-party tool.
In addition to powerful compression, Archiver 3 also offers the options for encrypting your archive. If you’ve selected all these, however, everything else is simple enough. Compared to other tools in the market, it has a super-fast compression process. Also, it lets you export or locate the archived file once it has been saved.
The only limitation here is that you don’t have Services support. Every time you need to create an archive, you will have to open the tool, which is a kind of a bummer. On the bright side, however, Archiver 3 offers a bunch of options like Archive Preview, Split & Combine etc. You would also love the snappy UI of Archiver 3, which makes things rather interesting.
Archiver 3 costs $19.99 but it’s available on Setapp as well.
StuffIt Deluxe Mac 16
StuffIt Deluxe Mac 16 is another great option if you are looking for a paid archiver tool for Mac. It’s actually a package that consists of Stuffit Archive Manager, Stuffit Destinations and Stuffit Magic Menu. Designed for a corporate environment, there are some super-useful features as well.
Stuffit Archive Manager would help you create and extract ZIP, RAR, TAR and Stuffit X archives. In addition to this, this archive management software provides ample control over the process as well. At the very same time, Stuffit Destinations is automating the whole process.
By creating certain destinations, you can compress, set up and send compressed files in a single click. It even shows you notifications when the action has been completed. Apart from these, StuffIt Deluxe Mac 16 also offers tight integration with cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive. So, you can ensure that the compressed file reaches the right place.
StuffIt Deluxe Mac 16 is available for macOS and costs $19.95.
Free Mac app options
This may be something you all have been waiting for. You don’t necessarily have to pay something in order to get an archive manager for Mac. And, here are some of the best free tools you can try.
Are you fine with a tool that lets you unarchive files? Then, you should consider The Unarchiver. This tool is now being owned by MacPaw, a developer behind several awesome software solutions. One thing to be noted here is that you cannot archive files using this tool. For that, you need something else. If you can live with that limitation, The Unarchiver is a great choice.
On the bright side, The Unarchiver has a really simple interface. You can get started with the tool in no time, thanks to the easy installation process. On any day, The Unarchiver will be more powerful than the native Archive Utility app. On top of this, there is unparalleled compatibility as well. As it happens, The Unarchiver does a better job than paid software when it comes to extracting certain file types.
The Unarchiver is available for macOS and is completely free to use.
Keka is what I call the ultimate free app for archive management. It offers an amazing level of compatibility, features and performance than some of the so-called paid apps. Most importantly, Keka integrates quite well into the macOS system. You can access the actions from the Services menu and make the preferences by launching the app.
Keka will be able to archive content to 9 types of archive files and extract content from 20+ formats. It simply means that you won’t need another archiving tool if you have Keka. But, that is only if you are fine with the basic life. It seriously lacks some advanced features like filtering or pre-sets. On the other hand, if you just need clean compression, you should go for Keka.
Keka is available for macOS and is completely free to use.
In the simplest terms, iZip is an old-school Mac app for archiving and unarchiving files. It comes with one of the oldest UIs we have seen and offers a wizard-like process for creating the compression. Despite the huge nature of it, the program does not offer any scope for customization either. Even then, we would suggest it if you are going for something basic.
Despite the wizard, iZip doesn’t seem to have unnecessary steps. In each step, you can add the files, decide whether you need encryption and a few other questions. At the end of the day, you will have the standard ZIP file in the preferred location. And, that we think matters the most in this process. In addition, iZip does not take up much space either.
iZip is completely free to use and is available for macOS.
Archiving and unarchiving files with ease
We have tried to present before you a diverse collection of Mac apps to archive and unarchive files. The idea was to provide you with enough choice that you can make the right decision.
Even if the Mac has a built-in option to an archive file. These Mac archiver apps are offering premium features such as password protection, drag and drop archive, etc.
Also note that due to sandboxing requirements with the Mac App Store, some Unarchiver apps require authorization the first time you extract an archive. If that step bothers you, you can download a non-Mac App Store (and, thus, non-sandboxed) version of the app or get third-party pro-level apps we tested above.
If you are ready to pay for cool features and productivity, you should go for BetterZip. On the other hand, if you are okay with some limited features, you have some free apps to choose from as well. We hope this article helps you choose the best.