App of the Week: The Unarchiver

Long ago, developers created packaging systems for sending large files between computers.  If you’ve ever downloaded a program or other large file from the web, then you know what I’m talking about.  These packages have endings like .zip, .dmg, .rar, etc.  All of these are designed to easily and safely send large files across the web.  Your Mac, of course, comes with a simple unzipping utility, though you tend to only see it when unzipping a file (that little loading bar that says “unarchiving…”, that’s part of it).  But Archive Utility can’t do everything; sometimes you need a little more power, or have an odd file type that you need to work with (especially for developers, modders, or anyone who plays Minecraft).

The Unarchiver, as its name implies, is an unarchiving tool to replace the built in Archive Utility.  It’s simple, unintrusive, and easy to setup.  After installing the app, you’re presented with a simple window listing all of the file types that The Unarchiver can open.  Putting a check mark next to any file types means that The Unarchiver takes the role of unarchiving that file, rather than any other app (mainly Mac’s Archive Utility).  You can just select all the individual file types you want, or select them all at once with the “Select All” button.

The main preference window

Or you can deselect them all with the “Deselect All” button.  Personally, I like to let The Unarchiver take care of them all.  And that’s pretty much it; you don’t have to mess with anything else.  You’ll only see the app if you want to edit the preferences or when you actually unarchive a file.  It may seem like the app doesn’t offer much, but that’s practically the point.  It does one thing (or at least the same thing over multiple files) but it does it quickly, it does it right, and it doesn’t get in your way.  If you really want to change some things up, you can go to the extraction pane and edit how and where it extracts the file.  You can also tell it what to do with the archive file when it’s done extracting.

Now at this point some people are probably thinking, “Why should I bother with this program when my Archive Utility works just fine?”.  For some people, the built-in app is fine.  But I like The Unarchiver for several reasons.  Besides being faster and simpler than Archive Utility, The Unarchiver has a few other tricks other its sleeves.  It can handle opening other file types that Archive Utility can’t handle, such as the older StuffIt file, but also more common file types like ISO’s and BIN disc images (which I use when burning Linux discs).  It also has the power to open some .exe files, which are Windows installation files.  I  sometimes run in to these files and I don’t always have a Windows computer around.  And through all of this, it can handle other encoding protocols so that I always have the proper names and information when I work with these files.

I really can’t complain about this app in any way.  If I had to ask for anything, I wish it had a built-in archiving tool, but I guess that might go against the name and introduce other problems.  Besides that, I can’t argue with anything else in the app.  It’s fast, simple, and does exactly what it says it does.  If you want to check it out, it’s available for free at or from the Mac App Store.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at  You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  You can also check out my Google Plus.  Thanks!

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