Work with zips as folders, like with Windows

24 March 2016, 04:00

There’s precious little for Mac users to be jealous about when it comes to Windows – although the ability to open and modify zip files as if they were folders is perhaps one. OS X has always had pretty weak zip file support.

Here’s some terrific news: Zipster brings this magical ability to Mac OS X, and it’s entirely free of charge. It was a commercial product but its developers have decided to reduce it to $0, forever. Thanks guys!

After Zipster’s installed (see below), once you double-click zips they appear as folders within Finder or on the desktop, and you can explore their contents, extract individual files, or add new files to them without even thinking about how to do it. Just drag and drop, like usual.

After installation you need to copy the provided license file to the correct location, or the software won’t believe it’s been purchased. There’s a handful of ways of doing this but the quickest is as follows, and this only needs to be done once:

  1. Download Zipster, then double-click to extract its contents to a new folder within your Downloads folder. Drag the main Zipster application to your Applications list, as you usually do when installing an app. However, don’t open it yet.

  2. Open a Terminal window, which you’ll find in the Utilities folder of the Applications list of Finder, and then paste in the following, which is a single line despite the fact it might be split over two or more lines in your browser – note that here we’re assuming the file has been downloaded to your Downloads directory, which is the default for Safari:

    mkdir ~/Library/Application\ Support/Zipster;cp ~/Downloads/Zipster/Zipster.licensekey ~/Library/Application\ Support/Zipster

  3. Run Zipster, and select to make it the default handler for Zip files when asked, and ensure you select to not have the question asked again.

  4. Finally, you should configure Zipster to start when the Mac boots. Open System Preferences, and click the Users & Groups icon.

  5. Click the Login Items tab, then drag the Zipster icon from the Applications list onto the list in System Preferences headed Start Automatically When You Log In.

Using Zipster is extremely simple, as discussed above.

Zipster has no effect on creating zips, and you can do so in the usual way using the right-click Compress option.

But there’s one caveat – if you want to copy, move or email a zip that you’ve turned into a folder using Zipster, you’ll need to unmount it – which is to say, remove its folder magic. This is very simple indeed – just right-click the zip/folder and click the Eject option. Then wait a few seconds. The folderization of the zip will disappear, and it’ll be returned to a simple, humble zip file.

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