Be honest. You get a thrill from archiving files and folders on your Mac, right? What could be easier? Select a bunch of files in the Finder, right click, select Compress, and you get a zipped up archive of your files.
Those archived files and folders get compressed and are ready for storage or email or uploading.
You can’t beat the price of Apple’s zip utility (it’s free) but you can find alternatives with many more features.
Starting at the bottom is YemuZip, a modestly priced drag and drop zip utility. Like Apple’s built-in archive tool, YemuZip doesn’t have many options, but you can choose to preserve the Mac’s specific meta data or strip it out for PC-friendly zip files.
At the free end of the spectrum, and at the other end of zipping, is The Unarchiver. What does it do? It (drum roll, please)… un-archives previously zipped and archived files.
Similarly inexpensive is iZip which unzips, uncompresses zip files, stuffit files, and many other archive formats.
Decompressing is not compressing, so the lower priced apps are somewhat limited in usefulness. That is, except for iPack. At $1.99 it compresses and decompress files and folders, even from within the Finder.
Stuffit Expander is still around and still unarchives or decompresses zipped archives and stuffed archives. To get the version that compresses will cost you money.
My favorite archive tool, and decidedly more expensive than most, is BetterZip. There’s not much it doesn’t do. It compresses, decompresses, strips out meta data, and it’s drag and drop simple to use. Even add a password and make an archive that’s Windows compatible.
At the high end of the scale is DropDMG which creates Mac disk images and cross-platform archives. It even encrypts files, and handles all the basic archive file formats. Lots of options here to justify the price tag.
For the money, Smart Zipper is a good buy. It compresses and decompress archives in 20 different file formats, and password protects an archive. You can control the compression level, too.
Feature-laden and expensive is Entropy which combines the best of the features list. It compresses and decompresses, encrypts, password protects, previews files in an archive, even modifies existing archives, and comes with a built-in password manager. This one is nice but pricey.
At the low, lower, lowest end of the scale are an even dozen additional Mac apps that archive or unarchive but don’t get much love from Mac users, regardless of price.
You can get a lot of mileage from the Mac’s built-in archive tool and Disk Utility, which also archives, encrypts, and can be password protected.