How to extract files on Mac in different ways


Users trying to extract files on Mac have plenty of options; built-in and third-party. Let’s find out how to extract files on Mac in different ways – starting with Finder and moving on to specialist file extraction software. Finding Finder too basic? Download Commander One – the best file extractor for Mac.

How to extract files on Mac via Finder – a step-by-step guide

Compressed files take up less disk space, which is useful for backups and sending files over the internet. A compressed folder can also hold lots of files at once, making transfer and storage simpler. But how to uncompress files on Mac depends on the compression type used.

The Archive Utility built into macOS does a good job of simple actions – and extracting a .zip folder in Finder is as easy as a double-click:

1. Find the ZIP archive in Finder.

ZIP archive

2. Double-click the ZIP archive.

3. It will automatically be extracted to the parent folder.

It’s also easy to compress files and folders in the ZIP format, directly in Finder:

  1. Select the files you want to compress.
  2. Ctrl+click, right click or two-finger tap to open the shortcut menu.
  3. Click “Compress (the selected number of) items”.
  4. A new compressed ZIP folder will be made in the parent folder.

But what if you have received a different archive extension than a .zip file – like an ipa, .apk, .jar, .ear or .war file? And what about other formats, like RAR, TBZ, TGZ, and 7z?

Some pro and power users might need to send an archive to a client or colleague in the recipient’s preferred format – or they might have a more complex compression task, like extracting multiple archived folders at once.

Unfortunately, that’s where Finder and the Archive Utility’s capabilities fall short. These macOS-native apps are only capable of basic compression and extraction, and just for ZIP files. To uncompress different archive formats, you’ll need a specialist Mac file extractor.

The good news is that there are third-party apps that can handle different compressed file extensions, and offer additional functionality when archiving, compressing and extracting files on a Mac.

Why it’s better to use a third-party app for extracting files on Mac

With the ability to extract files from multiple folders, Mac users in professional and specialist roles can get more out of third-party extraction software for Mac. They’re especially useful for people who need to extract and compress files that do not have the .zip file extension – like .rar files.

But why use RAR, or any other compression format, instead of ZIP? Well, RAR files are smaller and more efficient. 7z files are even smaller still – offering a disk space saving of up to 17% over ZIP. That’s a big difference for a datacenter or private cloud, where huge volumes of data are stored.

EAR, JAR, and WAR files are commonly used by Java application developers to enhance DevOps workflows. Put simply, different compression formats serve different purposes – and for the best compression rates, you have to look beyond the basic ZIP standard.

Why Commander One?

Commander One is the perfect solution for pros who need a powerful file extractor for Mac. Even for free, it can navigate .jar, .ear, and .war folders like they’re ordinary, uncompressed folders – which saves disk space, read/write cycles, and time. The Pro version unlocks RAR extraction, as well as TBZ, TGZ and 7z extraction and compression – with deep search integration for all types of compressed folders.

Commander One is a fully-fledged file management system, too. It works like Finder – but on overdrive. Users get a dual-panel (split-screen) view, unlimited tabs, plus enhanced selection and browsing tools.

Commander One - archiver

This means that multiple folders and files can be selected with ease – even while you’re browsing within them – before being compressed in the format of your choice, all at once. It’s even fully customizable, which can help ease eye strain, target your focus or just match with your desktop theme.


While there are many ways to extract files on Mac, most of them involve third-party apps. The only built-in solution is for ZIP files, so if you have another extension to unarchive on Mac, you’ll need to install third-party apps. Commander One is an excellent option for this. It’s flexible, customizable, and offers powerful browsing and extraction tools – even for free.


For ZIP folders, simply locate the .zip archive and double-click it. It will automatically extract all files into a new, uncompressed folder. For other compression formats, you will need third-party file extraction software, such as Commander One.

Depending on the format, it may be as simple as double-clicking the compressed folder. ZIP files can be extracted this way in macOS. Other file extensions require Mac extraction software.

ZIP files can be unarchived in Finder. Simply double-click to unarchive ZIP files. If the file is not a ZIP file, you will need to download Mac unarchive software, like Commander One.

Yes, Mac does have an extractor. macOS has the Archive Utility built-in, which can extract ZIP files only – other formats need an app (like Commander One) to be extracted.

When you extract all files from a ZIP folder, a new folder of the same name is created, which contains all the files within it. The ZIP folder remains – it is not deleted.

Check the extension – if it’s not a .zip file, then you’ll need to download a file extractor that can handle the extension you have. If you can’t extract files from a normal ZIP folder, then the file may be corrupted.