Time flies when you’re having fun, right? Or, as Kermit the Frog put it, “Time’s fun when you’re having flies.” Either way, time marches on. Not that long ago disk drives were so small and expensive that we Mac users would stuff files into compressed archives on floppy disks to save space.
Mac OS X came along at the turn of the century and brought with it a Unix-like zip utility to compress and wrap files and folders into what are called archives. Then, hard disk drives gained more storage and prices dropped dramatically. Space became cheap. Along the way, not much changed with the macOS zip archive tool. All it would do is about all it does. Zip up files and folders for storage or sharing.
Zip It Up!
Unfortunately, zip just isn’t enough. Passwords are cumbersome to add to an archive of files in macOS. To view archive contents requires a Mac user to open the archive first. Encryption requires yet another utility. So, a few years ago I moved on and adopted a favorite, BetterZip. If there’s a compression file format out there that cannot be used by BetterZip, I haven’t found it.
What BetterZip does is almost anything a Mac user needs to archive and unarchive files.
As is the case for many of us borderline geeks, BetterZip is overkill for most Mac users. What if all you want is to zip up files and folders, add a password, toss in some encryption to secure the file for transport?
For that there’s a free utility called iZip. No, it’s not as feature laden as BetterZip, which is more of a Swiss Army Knife of compression tools. But iZip has the basics. Zip, unzip, encrypt, and share.
- Archives appear as removable storage
- Encryption and large files supported
- New archive assistant
- Secure sharing
- Automatic updates
- Currently supports ZIP, ZIPX, RAR, TAR, TAR.GZ and 7ZIP files
What else do you need?
iZip handles files from Windows users, including WinZip, WinRAR and others. Because iZip works as removable storage in the Finder, it can be used with drag and drop. AES 256-bit encryption is built-in (with options for no encryption, 128-bit encryption, even 196-bit encryption), so sharing files securely becomes a simple operation. There’s even an option to use an online file-sharing service for archives that are too large to be handled by email accounts.
iZip does more than Archive in macOS Sierra, but nothing like BetterZip. Those of us who work with archived files on a daily basis prefer the automated options similar to those found in BetterZip.
The latest version extends the security and automation lead by using a clever Finder extension which makes presets available with a click in the Finder’s Toolbar. Even better, BetterZip’s latest gives you options for more than two Services, works with Automator actions, and integrates well with power user utilities, including LaunchBar, DropZone, Alfred and others.
The new Drop Bar makes presets even easier to reach, and folders can be viewed just like the Finder.
And, yes, BetterZip still removes archives of the Mac related metadata, Finder settings, etc. that Windows users and Linux servers don’t appreciate. Extracted archives can be moved wherever you want on your Mac; instead of the Trash.
And, if it’s preferences you like to twiddle and tweak, BetterZip doesn’t disappoint.
Just remember that BetterZip is top of the line with professional level features that Mac power users appreciate. It’s like a Swiss Army Knife of archive functionality.
If the Mac’s built-in Archive utility just doesn’t have enough features for you, iZip is a walk through, step-by-step archive process which uses menus to give you options; create archives, add encryption and password, drag and drop files and folders. If that’s not enough, then I recommend BetterZip, but use the try-before-you-buy option. If you need more than iZip but not BetterZip’s power, I recommend Keka.