How to Compress a File on Mac

Hello there! 👋 If you’re a Mac user, chances are you’ve encountered a situation where you need to send a large file over email or messaging apps, only to find out that it exceeds the maximum file size limit. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we will guide you through the steps on how to easily compress a file on Mac, so you can send it over without any problems.

Compressing a file on Mac is a simple and quick process that can save you a lot of time and trouble. Not only does it reduce the file size, but it also makes it easier to transfer and store the file. So, whether it’s a high-resolution photo or a lengthy report, compressing the file will make your life a whole lot easier. So, let’s get started! 🚀

compress a file on mac

Understanding File Compression

File compression is the process of reducing the size of a file without losing any data. This can be particularly useful when transferring large files or simply when you need more space on your computer. Compressing files is a great way to save space and make it easier for you to share them through various mediums like email or cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Drive.

In the case of Mac, there are more than one way to compress a file. Whether you’re using macOS Mojave, High Sierra or older, you can successfully compress any selected files and folders in similar ways. Follow this guide to learn 3 different ways to compress files on Mac.

Method 1: Compressing Files and Folders Right from the Finder

This method of compressing files is perhaps the most straightforward one, as it’s only a few clicks that separate you from saving loads of space on your Mac.

To compress files using Finder, simply right-click on the file or folder you want to compress and click on the “Compress” option. Alternatively, you can also select the respective files and folders, then press “Control + Click” to bring up the contextual menu and choose the “Compress” option.

Once you’ve selected “Compress,” the compression process will start, and a new Zip file containing the original files will be created in the same location.

This method produces zip files, but you also have an option to switch to using .rar files if you have the RAR Expander downloaded from the Mac App Store.

It is worth remembering that the compression level of each file may differ, simply because some files inherently compress better than others. You may also see that the compression level of the same file in .zip format and .rar format is different.

Also, it’s worth noting that you can also create a password-protected compressed file by clicking on the ‘Options’ button before selecting ‘Compress’ and then setting up a password.

Method 2: Compressing Files Using the Archive Utility

The Archive Utility is a macOS native application that can archive and unarchive files on your Mac, as well as compress their size. This method works for individual files or folders and allows you to choose the destination for the new compressed file.

To compress files using the Archive Utility, you need to locate the file that you want to compress and then right-click on it. From the drop-down menu that appears, select the “Open With” option and then click on “Archive Utility.” The utility will immediately start compressing the file or folder selected, and a new compressed version will be created.

Once again, the Archive Utility produces the .zip format by default. But if you want to use another archive format or need more control over advanced settings, you can use a third-party compression tool.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that The Archive Utility also enables you to uncompress files and extract their content.

Method 3: Using Terminal to Compress Files

This method is a bit more hands-on than the first two, but it can be especially useful when you want to automate the process of compressing files. It’s also the perfect method for those who prefer the command line to using a GUI.

To compress files using Terminal, first, open the Terminal app by searching the application folder on Spotlight search or by going through “Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal”. Once opened, type in the following command and hit enter:

zip –r [name of your compressed file with .zip extension] [name of the folder that you want to archive and compress]

This command will create a compressed archive of the folder you specified, with the name you typed in as well. You can then find the compressed folder in the same directory with the original folder.

Similarly, you can use the command “unzip” instead of “zip” if you’d like to extract contents from the compressed file.


These three methods make it easy to compress and save space for files and folders, no matter what your purpose for compressing them may be. Whether through the Finder, Archive Utility or Terminal, compressing files is a simple yet effective way of clearing up space on your mac. Try out these different methods and see which one you prefer.

Step-by-Step Guide to Compressing Files on Mac

Compressing files on your Mac is a simple task that can save you space and time. Whether you’re looking to make a smaller file size for easier sharing or simply to free up space on your device, compressing your files is a quick solution. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to compress files on your Mac.

1. Select the File(s) You Want to Compress

The first step is to select the file or files you wish to compress. This can either be done by clicking and dragging the files to your chosen location or by browsing through the files to find the ones you need.

2. Right-Click on the File(s)

Once you have the file(s) that you want to compress, it’s time to start the compression process. Begin by right-clicking on the file(s). This should bring up a menu that contains various options. Look for the option that reads “Compress.” This will start the compression process.

It’s important to note that you can also compress multiple files at once. To do this, hold down the “Command” key on your keyboard while selecting the files. This will highlight all the files you have chosen, and you can then proceed with the same steps as above.

3. Wait for the Compression Process to Finish

Once you have selected the “Compress” option, macOS will begin the compression process. The time it takes to complete will depend on the size and number of files being compressed. The progress of the compression can be monitored by looking at the progress bar, which will appear on your screen.

4. Check the Compressed File(s)

Once the compression process has finished, you’ll have a new file with a .zip extension. It’s worth noting that you can also choose to rename the compressed file(s) at this stage. Simply click on the file and select “Rename.”

It’s a good idea to check the compressed file(s) to ensure that they have been successfully compressed and that all the files are present in the compressed file. You can do this by double-clicking on the compressed file. This will open it, and you’ll be able to see all the files that have been compressed.

5. Use or Share Your Compressed File(s)

Once you’re happy that your compressed file(s) are complete, you can use them as needed. They can be emailed, uploaded to cloud storage platforms, or used on your device without taking up as much space.

In conclusion, compressing files on your Mac is a simple process that can save you time and space. Following the guide above, you’ll be able to select and compress the files you need in just a few clicks.

Alternative Compression Methods

If you’re looking for alternative methods to compress files on your Mac, there are a variety of options available to you. While the built-in Archive Utility is a great tool for most users, there may be times when you require more advanced compression options or features.

One popular app for Mac users is Stuffit Expander. This app is great for compressing large files and folders, and also offers advanced features like encryption, compression profiles, and more. There is a free version of Stuffit Expander available for download on the Mac App Store, or you can purchase the full version for access to all of its features.

Another great option for Mac users is BetterZip. This app offers a variety of compression options, including support for password-protected archives, multi-part archives, and much more. BetterZip also allows you to preview and extract most common file formats, making it a versatile tool for handling compressed files.

If you’re looking for a simpler solution, there are also a variety of online tools available for compressing files. Sites like SmallPDF and Compress PNG allow you to compress files online for free, without the need to download any software.

Keep in mind that while these alternative compression methods can be useful, they may not be necessary for every user. For most people, the built-in Archive Utility and its basic compression options will be more than sufficient for their needs.

If you want to reduce the size of a file on your Mac, one of the easiest ways is to use the built-in compression feature. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to compress a file on Mac to learn more.

Tips for Successful File Compression

Compressing files is a great way to save storage space, especially if you have limited storage on your Mac. However, the process of compressing a file can be tricky, especially if you are new to Macs. In this article, we’ll provide you with some essential tips to help you successfully compress files on your Mac.

Tip #1: Choose the Right Compression Format

The first thing to consider when compressing files on a Mac is the format. Mac offers two compression formats: ZIP and TAR. ZIP is the standard format and is ideal for compressing smaller files. TAR, on the other hand, is better suited for archiving large files, especially multimedia files such as audio and video files.

To choose the right compression format, consider the type of files you’re compressing and the size of the files. You can easily compress files in any of the formats by right-clicking on the file and selecting “Compress [filename].” A compressed file with the same name will be generated in the same directory.

Tip #2: Be Mindful of the File Size

When compressing files on a Mac, it is essential to be mindful of the file size. A compressed file should ideally be smaller than the original file. However, if the file is already compressed, it may not be possible to compress it further. Compressing already compressed files can not only be time-consuming but can also lead to a larger file size.

It’s also important to check that there is enough space on your hard drive before compressing a file. If your hard drive is full, the compression process may not be successful, and you may end up losing data.

Tip #3: Use Password Protection

If you want to protect your files from unauthorized access, it’s always recommended to use password protection. Mac’s built-in compression tool allows you to password-protect compressed files. To do this, simply click “Options” while compressing the file and select “Set Password.” Enter a strong password and confirm it to create a password-protected compressed file.

Tip #4: Use Cloud Storage for Large Files

While compressing files is an effective way to save storage space, it’s not always the best solution for large files. Compressing large files can take a lot of time, and even after compression, the file size may still be significant.

If you have large files that you want to store securely and access from anywhere, consider using cloud storage. Services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud offer excellent features for storing and managing large files, and the best part is that you can access your files from anywhere, provided you have an internet connection.


Compressing files can be useful for creating more space on your Mac’s hard drive, but it requires you to be careful and mindful of the file size and format. In this article, we have provided some essential tips to help you successfully compress files on your Mac. Use these tips the next time you need to compress files, and ensure that your compressed files are secure, password-protected, and accessible from anywhere using cloud storage.

Wrap it Up!

That’s all folks! Now you know how to compress a file on your Mac and save some precious disk space. These simple steps will come handy anytime you need to send a file via email or upload it online. I hope you enjoyed reading this article and learned something new today. If you ever need any tech help, remember to visit us again. Thanks for reading!

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