No, most Mac folks today use the built-in Archive tool in the Finder. It’s fast, easy, free, and it works. But there are many file archives out there, and many more ways to archive and unarchive. Here’s two. One is a super app. The other is free.
Free The Archives!
The free way that most Mac users zip up files and folders is the Archive tool in the Finder. Select files or folders. Right click and select Compress x-number of items from the menu.
That creates a standard .zip file archive. Send the archive to another Mac user and it’s easily unzipped to open the files and folders.
That’s the easy and free way but it’s only one way. Mac users also receive Stuffit files, Gzip files, and many others.
OS X’s built-in .zip Archive tool won’t unzip those. For that you’ll need The Unarchiver, a free utility which unzips most of what gets zipped up.
All the standard archive formats are easily unzipped including Zip, RAR, 7-zip, Tar, Gzip and Bzip2, but also Stuffit, LZH, ARJ, ARC, and even DiskDoubler (remember that?).
The Unarchiver is free and guess what? It only opens archives. It doesn’t create archives and doesn’t even let you view what’s inside an archive. For that you’d need to spend a few dollars and get The Archive Browser which extracts files in an archive and lets you view what’s inside first.
What About Zipping Archives?
At the other end of the scale is my favorite archive tool, BetterZip. This one is so good I was glad to pay for it.
BetterZip will extract files from an archive and let you view the files inside an archive of files and folders without extracting them first.
It will dig in ZIP, SIT, TAR, GZip, BZip2, RAR, 7-Zip, CPIO, ARJ, LZH/LHA, JAR, WAR, CAB, ISO, CHM, RPM, DEB, NSIS, BIN, HQX, DD archives with ease.
BetterZip looks a bit like the Finder. Click on an archive and then view the contents.
Here’s what separates BetterZip from the chaff of archive tools. It creates archives using ZIP, TAR, GZip and BZip2 compressed TAR, 7-ZIP, and RAR formats. This cleverly constructed app also protects data with password protection and can create Windows WinZip compatible AES-256 bit encrypted archives for added security.
BetterZip can strip out Mac specific files (so your Windows friends won’t freak out), let you browser through and re-arrange files and folders in an archive, and treat it more or less like a basic Mac folder.
This is my go to Mac archive tool. If there’s a better one, I haven’t found it.