How to extract data from corrupted ZIP

6 min read

Ever come across a ZIP file that stubbornly refuses to unzip, leaving you stranded with valuable data trapped inside? It’s a frustrating situation that can make even the most patient among us tear our hair out. But don’t worry. We’re here to help. In this article, we’ll show you how to retrieve data from corrupted ZIP. 

Why can’t extract files from a zipped folder?

There are several reasons why you may not be able to expand a ZIP file on your Mac. Some of them are listed below.

  • Incorrect compression
    To extract the data from the ZIP file, it’s important to compress it properly. File compression is affected by various reasons, such as sudden system shutdown, abrupt power failure, and more. As a result, the file undergoing the compression process gets damaged and thus refuses to open.
  • Physical damage
    Physical damage to the storage device is another reason that some of the previously working ZIP files may become corrupted. If you stored the ZIP file on an external hard disk or even a flash drive, the chances are that the removable disk is malfunctioning.
  • Incomplete downloads
    The corrupted ZIP file is one of the major reasons that trigger the error message. When you download files in a browser on macOS, it’s possible that the file is not downloaded completely and correctly. In this case, you can solve this problem by downloading the file again.

Tip: Sometimes it looks like you’re connected to the internet, but there’s a hidden problem that prevents you from downloading the whole file. The best way to check is to scan network connections with WiFi Explorer

  1. Install and open WiFi Explorer
  2. View all active networks available nearby 
  3. Click on your current network connection and go to Network Details. Make sure your network isn’t sharing a channel with too many other networks. This could be the reason for poor Wi-Fi. Also, check the signal strength and quality. If the quality is poor, you might need to switch to a different network.
WiFi Explorer

Extract files from corrupted ZIP archive

Sometimes, even if a ZIP archive is corrupted, it’s still possible to extract specific important files from it. Instead of losing hope entirely, you can focus on salvaging a separate file that matters the most. 

Here’s how to recover data from corrupted ZIP folder:

  1. Install and open BetterZip on your Mac
  2. Choose the zipped folder with the file(s) you want to extract
  3. Right-click the file you want to extract
  4. Choose Extract Selected from the drop-down menu.


BetterZip is a powerful archive manager that not only supports extracting and creating more than thirty file formats but also renames files inside archives, sets passwords, and previews documents with Quick Look.

If you find BetterZip’s interface a bit overwhelming, there’s another great option called Archiver that you can try. This is one of the most intuitive compressors and extractors for the Mac. Its beautiful and simple interface makes working with archives incredibly easy. Just like BetterZip we mentioned above, Achiever can extract anything selectively.

Just drag your ZIP file onto Archiver and click the arrow next to the folder to preview the contents of the archive. You can also just drag some of the files onto your Desktop even without unarchiving them.

preview and extract corrupted zip in Archiver

For those preferring a dual-pane file manager, there is another ZIP repair option available – Commander One. Similarly to BetterZip and Archiver, this app also allows you to preview archived files and recover those that are not damaged. You can also delete files and create new folders directly in an archive.

 Commander One

As an alternative to using specialized tools, you can try Terminal on your Mac to unzip a ZIP archive. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Terminal app on your Mac. You can find it in the Utilities folder or search for it using Spotlight (Command + Space)
  2. Type in unzip followed by a space. Then simply drag and drop your ZIP archive into the Terminal window. Press Enter. 
  3. Your unzipped files will be placed in your user account folder, which you can easily access using Finder.

unzip using Terminal

If this doesn’t repair corrupted ZIP, proceed to the next step. 

How to repair damaged or corrupted ZIP archive

You can also try using Terminal to fix a corrupt ZIP file with the following commands.

  1. Open the Terminal app on your Mac. You can find it in the Utilities folder or search for it using Spotlight (Command + Space)
  2. Type the following command line: zip -F --out This Terminal command tells Terminal to target the archive named in a home folder with the zip command -F, to fix the archive and, if possible, create a new archive named Press Enter
  3. If you see some warning, try another command: zip -FF --out
  4. Terminal should ask you if this is a single-disk archive, that is, a complete archive and not part of a larger archive. Type Y for yes and press Return. Terminal will begin extracting what it can from the damaged archive and repack the files into a new archive that it will create using the name of the archive you specified in the Terminal command.

How to recover data from corrupted ZIP folder: Fixed

If your ZIP file accidentally becomes corrupted, don’t worry. Going through the above steps can help you recover data. While Terminal may be an effective option, not everyone is comfortable dealing with all the complicated commands and instructions. Setapp gives you access to a curated collection of high-quality apps for your Mac, iPhone, and iPad, including powerful tools like Archiver, BetterZip, and Commander One.

When other methods don’t work, the apps mentioned above can help you preview and extract at least some files from the corrupted archive. So instead of losing hope entirely, you can focus on salvaging a separate file that matters the most. 

Why try Setapp? Well, because it simplifies your workflow by offering a single subscription that gives you unlimited access to a wide range of apps, ensuring you have the right tools at your fingertips to effortlessly extract, manage, and repair ZIP archives, as well as tackle any other challenges you may face on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Explore Setapp today for seven days at no cost and discover a world of possibilities to enhance your Mac experience. If you like it, pay $9.99/mo for all 240+ apps.

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