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Compress and Archive Items you Do Not Access Often

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 8/5/2008

Compressed files and folders take up far less hard disk space than uncompressed ones. You should compress files and folders you do not need often to improve your Mac's performance.

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    Organize and Compress

    You may want to organize, compress, and archive items you need to keep but rarely need to access. Compressed files and folders take up far less hard disk space than uncompressed ones. Compressed files are also much easier and quicker to transfer to other users when you use a network or the Internet via e-mail. Simply select the items to compress and archive and then use a Control+click or use the Action menu to select Create Archive. The resulting file will be a ZIP file that can be opened by either your Mac, another Mac, or a PC.

    Before you compress though, you should spend a few minutes getting organized. The simplest way to organize your data is to create personal folders inside of the Home folders and move existing files into a folder that details its contents. For instance, all of the pictures of your vacation to Italy should be in a subfolder named Italy Trip, and all of the documents that pertain to taxes should be in a folder named Taxes. You could even have subfolders inside of the Italy Trip folder named Florence, Rome, and Venice, or you could have subfolders inside the Taxes folder named 2004, 2005, 2006, and so on. By creating your own subfolders inside these folders, you can create a tree structure that organizes your data in the same manner a filing cabinet would.

    To use the Create Archive command, follow these steps (after organizing the data you want to keep):

    1. Open the folder that contains the items to compress. Select the items.

    2. Choose File>Create Archive, or from the Actions menu, choose Create Archive. You can also use Control+click.

    3. The archive will be named

    4. You can rename the ZIP file by clicking it once.

    5. After the file is compressed, you can delete the original (uncompressed) file if desired. If you do not delete the original file, you’ll have two copies of the data.

    6. You might also want to create a folder just for archived files. This folder can be backed up for further security.