Top archiver apps for Mac

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It’s rare that you can’t do something on your Mac, but when it happens, it can stop your workflow in its tracks. One of the most typical things that your Mac can’t do is efficiently unpack zipped archives

You might know that your Mac has a built-in macOS file archiver — but it does have its limitations, which we’ll mention below. Besides, there are a few better options out there. Then what’s the best zipping program for Mac? Let’s find out. 

How to compare the best file compression apps

Archivers have three key features: 

  1. Unzipping downloaded archives, such as apps and installers.
  2. Helping store compressed files and folders that take up less space, which is especially great for your backups.
  3. Preparing files and folders for sharing online. If you try to email someone an unzipped folder full of files, you might see that not all of them will make it to the other side.

Then, depending on the archive utility you choose, there might be various additional functionality. For example, password protection, the ability to choose the archival format, splitting the archiving process into two or more archives, reading archived documents without unarchiving them, and so on.

Here are the top macOS file archivers compared side by side, with more detailed descriptions of each one below.

Archive UtilityArchiverCommander OneBetterZipThe UnarchiverWinZip
Multiple formatsyesyes yesyesyesyes
RAR supportnoyesyesyesyesyes
See inside archivesnoyesnoyesnono
Password encryptionnoyesyesyesnoyes
File compressionnoyesyesyesnoyes
PriceFreeFree with SetappFree with Setapp
Free with SetappFree$29.95

Archive Utility: The default option

As mentioned above, your Mac has a built-in archiver called Archive Utility. It’s not a full-fledged standalone app that you can keep open and tweak, although you can see it hidden in /System/Library/CoreServices/Applications. Its capabilities are mostly baked into the Finder. So anytime you double-click on an archive, your Mac will try to unarchive it with Archive Utility.

You can see that the Archive Utility is being used by default if you right-click on an archive and hover over Open With > Archive Utility

Archive Utility

If you only occasionally need to compress or unpack archived files, the Archive Utility might be enough for you. However, this app does have lots of limitations compared to other options. For example, it doesn’t allow you to peek inside archives, set passwords, or split archives. It’s also limited in terms of the formats that it can open.

Pros

  • Free and default on macOS
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • No password security
  • Works with limited formats

Technical details

  • Price: Free
  • Supported systems: macOS
  • Features: Compress, unarchive
  • Availability: Included with macOS 
  • Latest version: 10.15

Archiver: The perfect mix of features

Those who are looking for a balance of simplicity and power when dealing with archived files will find it in Archiver. 

Archiver can compress or unzip files with a simple drag and drop, without any complex configurations. At the same time, when you need those extra features, they are right at your fingertips. You can split large files into multiple archives, pick the right archiving format, select the appropriate compression level, and encrypt the resulting archive with a password.

Archiver unzipper

A very convenient Archiver feature for the zipped files and folders people send you is the ability to peek inside without extracting. You can even look at images and text documents that way, using Mac’s Quick Look. 

Pros

  • A seamless user experience
  • Multiple formats (including RAR)
  • Look at files without unzipping
  • Password encryption

Cons

  • $20 one-time license unless used with Setapp

Technical details

  • Price: $20, or included in Setapp
  • Supported systems: macOS
  • Features: Password encryption, support for multiple formats
  • Availability: Setapp, App Store
  • Latest version: 4.1

Commander One: Archiving and Finder in one

Unlike other apps in this list, Commander One takes a different approach. It’s not just an archive utility for Mac, but a complete Finder replacement, packed with features. 

All your files in Commander One are displayed in two panels, making them easier to move around. The search is powered by RegEx and over advanced settings. Any device (e.g., Android or iOS) can show up as a mounted drive and share its files — the same goes for cloud services. 

unzip files in Commander One

Archiving capabilities are also top-notch. Commander One works with ZIP, RAR, and 7z files. It allows you to compress into various formats and set a precise compression level. Plus, you can easily encrypt your archives with a password.

Pros

  • A complete Finder replacement
  • A powerful archiver
  • Precise configurations

Cons

  • Too complex for simple tasks

Technical details

  • Price: $29.99, or included in Setapp
  • Supported systems: macOS
  • Features: Two-pane file manager, password encryption
  • Availability: Setapp, App Store
  • Latest version: 3.8

BetterZip: For archiving professionals

Those who work with archives on a daily or weekly basis should get a pro-level tool that does everything without being difficult to use. That’s BetterZip

BetterZip supports archiving and unarchiving files with more than 30 formats. It lets you browse, modify, and add files to the archives without unzipping them. You can also add comments to your archives to remember what they are about and passwords to keep them private. For high-volume work, you can create AppleScript commands to automate the archival process. 

BetterZip preview unarchived files

Even if you don’t need to use the extra features BetterZip offers all the time, you can stick to the simple zipping and unzipping, which is just as easy, and call up any advanced features as needed. BetterZip can be as simple or powerful as you want it to be.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Powerful archiving features 
  • AppleScript support

Cons

  • Can’t split files into small archives
  • Pricey, unless used with Setapp

Technical details

  • Price: $24.95, or included in Setapp
  • Supported systems: macOS
  • Features: Modify files in archives, comments, AppleScript support
  • Availability: Setapp, BetterZip website
  • Latest version: 5.3

The Unarchiver: A no-brainer upgrade

One step up from the default zipping program for Mac is The Unarchiver by MacPaw. Its key feature (besides being free) is the ability to open RAR archive formats that are popular with Windows users.

Once you open The Unarchive for the first time, it’ll give you the option to choose which other formats you want it to open and compress to. In addition, you can set extraction preferences as well as advanced encoding detection. 

While The Unarchiver is better than the default macOS file archiver in every way, it has one additional useful feature. It can read and handle multiple alphabets, so if you ever compress or unzip an archive written in other languages, it will show up with correct titles and file names. 

The Unarchiver, a free tool to open RAR on Mac

Pros

  • Free
  • Opens RAR archives and dozens more formats
  • Works multiple alphabets

Cons

  • No password protection

Technical details

  • Price: Free
  • Supported systems: macOS
  • Features: Multiple formats, multiple languages
  • Availability: App Store 
  • Latest version: 4.3

WinZip: A multiplatform solution

With more than one billion downloads, WinZip is one of the oldest (since 1991) and most popular third-party archiving tools. 

WinZip works on multiple platforms, covering Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. It features a Finder-like interface for working with files and folders, so you don’t have to leave the app to navigate to another archive. It also shows you a few archives at once, making moving and sharing files easier. 

Finally, WinZip has a few quick actions, such as encryption, reducing photos, converting photos to another format, and watermarking. All these are great for when you need to quickly zip and share files with someone else. 

WinZip on Mac

The main downside of WinZip is its price at $29.95 for a one-time license. Unless you need WinZip’s specific features, there are other apps that can do it cheaper or even free. 

Pros

  • Multiplatform
  • Quick actions for zipping files

Cons

  • Expensive

Technical details

  • Price: $29.95 for one-time license
  • Supported systems: Mac, Windows, Android, iOS
  • Features: Encrypt files, reduce photo size, watermark
  • Availability: WinZip website, App Store
  • Latest version: 11.0

What’s the best archiver for Mac?

As you can see, there are plenty of options when it comes to the best file compression apps. It all comes down to your use case. If you see zipped files once a year, maybe the default Archive Utility is enough for your needs, although upgrading to The Unarchiver won’t cost you anything. 

Those who work on multiple platforms will appreciate WinZip. Archiver is a lightweight but powerful app with great usability. Commander One is a full-featured Finder replacement. And BetterZip is one of the most powerful archivers out there. 

Best of all, Archiver, Commander One, and BetterZip are available for you at no cost for seven days with the trial of Setapp. Setapp is a platform with more than 240 Mac and iOS across multiple categories, from Mac optimization to graphic design and productive studying. Try all apps on Setapp for free today and discover your new favorites.

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