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How To make A Zip File On Mac OS X

written by: Donny Yankellow•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 3/29/2011

Maybe you have a bunch of files to email a friend, but they are too big for one email. One option is to "zip" them. This article will guide you through the process of making a zip file.

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    What Is A Zip File?


    A file or folder that has been compressed, or made smaller, with the zip format is called zip file or zip folder. The zip file contains the real content in it, it's just compressed. The purpose of making a zip file is to improve storage and transportation. It compresses file(s) and puts them in a single container, allowing you to easily transport it anywhere. For instance, if you want to email 10 pictures to someone, instead of sending each file separately, you can zip them and send the single zip file only. Sometimes, you want to save many files in a Flash drive but there isn’t much space in it. Zipping the files compresses them and takes less space, allowing you to easily store your data in a smaller storage area.

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    How Do I Make A Zip?

    Instead of "zip", Apple uses the term Archive or Compress. To make a zip file, select the items you want to zip up and open up the File menu and select "Create Archive" or "Compress (if you're using Leopard). This is how you create a zip file in Mac OS X. You can ctrl-click on any item to get this option as well.

    For example, you want to compress your folder called “Arizona”. Select this folder then open the File menu and then choose Create Archive of Arizona or Compress Arizona. Next to that folder in the Finder you will see another file called This is the zip file you just created.

    You can select one or more files or folders together to make a zip file. When you select multiple files or folders then in the menu you’ll read Create Archive of ‘n’ items. But it is always a good idea to create one folder, put all the files in it and create its zip. This will trim down clutter on your machine.

    Once you have your compressed file you can attach it to an email and send it off.

    One note: Just because you compress a bunch of files into one .zip file it still might be too big for an email. In that case you make have to break the files into several compressed files and several emails. To check the file size of a compressed file click the icon and control click. Chose "Get Info" from the menu that pops up. From this screen you can see the file size. It is generally a good idea to keep email attachments under 5mb. Many servers won't accept more than that.

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    How Do I Unzip The Zip File?

    Unzipping a zip file is very simple. Just double-click on the zip file in the Finder, it will decompress its contents and place them nearby. If you didn’t put the files in a folder, they may be spread on the desktop or at the original location where the zip file was located.

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    Article based on experience of the author.

    Screen shot taken by the author.