Compressing Files on Your Mac [Simple Tips]

There are so many options for moving files around these days. We’ve gone from floppy disks to CDs to flash drives and SD cards, and now you can just save your files virtually in the cloud. When performing backups, you may even utilize more than one of those locations, which will leave a sizable file footprint. Regardless of how or where you store your files, space is always a virtue for every user. It’s a commodity that we can never have enough of, so it’s best to save it where you can.

This is where compressing files can come in handy. Whether you have a long list of photos that you want to share with a friend, a Powerpoint project with corresponding PDFs to send to business partners, or a couple of text files you’d like to take with you to work on, a quick compression of these file groups will help you save space. While the amount saved will vary by file type – graphic and text files generally have a higher compression ratio while executable files have lower – you’re likely to save some space no matter what. Doing so is a pretty simple process in Mac OS X.

To start, find the file or files that you’d like to shrink into a single .zip file. If you’re looking to add multiple items, hold Command with each click to make your selections.


Once you have your items of interest, you’ll want to start the compression process. Right click the selection. When the file menu appears, select Compress.


Once you’ve done this, you’ll see a window appear with the status of your compression process. The window will indicate how many files will be in your compressed file, the size of those files, and about how long the process will take. Then just wait until completion as your Mac works its space-saving and size-shrinking magic.


Depending on what you choose to compress, the name of the final product will vary. For example, if you compress a single folder, it will appear in your finder with the same name as the folder but with a .zip extension. If you choose multiple files or folders to be compressed, your result will be “” This is something you’ll want to note when looking for the results of the process.


Your final product will be a smaller, movable file that can be read on any Mac or PC. Simply double-clicking the .zip file on your Mac will unzip the files and give you access to everything inside. This makes it easy for sharing, moving, and storing. No matter what you decide to do with your newly shrunken archives, you’ll be doing it while taking up less space than usual. A zip file will save the average user about 10 percent of the initial space that the items previously occupied. This adds up quick when you have a sizable amount of items to zip up.

AJ Dellinger

AJ Dellinger is a freelance writer based in Madison, Wisconsin. He's been described as amazing, flawless, the best, and extremely modest. His work can be found at Digital Trends, Mac|Life Magazine, Gamezebo, and many others. Follow him on Twitter, @ajdell.

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