Panther: Zip archiving

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
November 13th, 2003 • 11:31 pm

I like the fact that Panther’s Finder now includes built-in file archiving, with the “Create Archive of XXX” command (available in the “File” menu or in the Action button in Finder windows).

I find that Aladdin’s StuffIt products are a regular source of frustration and I certainly wouldn’t mind getting rid of them altogether.

I realize that Zip archiving with this method is problematic for resource forks — but in this day and age, most of my file archiving activities are related to sharing files with Windows users, so this is pretty much irrelevant anyway. (For sharing archives with Mac users of files that might contain resource forks, there is also the option of creating a compressed disk image with Disk Utility.)

However, I really cannot understand why Apple didn’t also include in the Finder a command for decompressing Zip archives. I can use “Create Archive of XXX” to create a Zip archive, but then if I want to decompress that archive, I have to use StuffIt Expander (or other third-party solutions)!

I know that StuffIt Expander is included with Mac OS X, but it’s still a third-party application, it still is a pain to use (it often takes forever to launch), and it’s not integrated with the Finder!


6 Responses to “Panther: Zip archiving”

  1. Rainer Brockerhoff says:

    Unless your file-application bindings are messed up, just double-clicking on a Finder-compressed .zip file will unzip it – it’s bound to a hidden application (/System/Library/CoreServices/BOMArchiveHelper). And the format Apple is using actually zips up an AppleDouble version of the file – so metadata like type/creator, labels, and resource forks will be preserved if present.
    On the other hand, if such a zip file is unzipped on a PC (or by Stuffit Expander!) the result will produce an extra __MACOSX folder containing an extra file with the metadata and resource fork, so the file will become unusable.
    Let’s hope Aladdin will support this new format in the next version of Expander. Until then, Apple’s zip is pretty much worthless for sending files to users of Mac OS 9 or older versions of Mac OS X.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Right you are! But it’s utterly non-intuitive… There really should be a “Decompress” or “Expand” command in the Action menu.

    Thanks for the correction about the resource forks. I guess I didn’t read the original post at iconfactory carefully enough.

  3. Pierre Igot says:

    I realize that “Open” does this. But people might also instinctively be concerned that “Open” will decompress AND open the file (using its corresponding application).

    It’s a tricky one… Maybe changing “Create Archive of XXX” to “Expand Archive” when a Zip archive is selected would be OK. But then what happens if the selection is several files, and some of them are already archives, and some of them aren’t? :-)

    I think it’d be better if there were two menu items, “Create Archive of XXX” and “Expand Archive”, and the items would be enabled/disabled depending on what the selection is.

    Not sure I would like “Unarchive” as a command for expanding archives, though :).

  4. Rainer Brockerhoff says:

    I see your point (up to a point), but… there actually _is_ such a command in the Action menu, only it’s called “Open”.
    Think of a disk image… you double-click to mount it, if they had a separate “Mount” item in the Action menu, everybody and his uncle would be yelling for a way to add their own verb there. Soon it would be a mess like the Services menu.
    Or perhaps the “Create Archive” item should rename itself “Unarchive” when you’ve selected a .zip file? Right now it seems they’re just yanking it out. Hmm… now that would make sense. Might be worth filing a suggestion…

  5. Rainer Brockerhoff says:

    If several files are selected the only thing to do is archive them together into a single zip… it already is that way.
    I realize “Unarchive” sounds strange, but “Expand” sounds equally strange to someone who doesn’t know that “Archive” really should be written “Compress” :-).

  6. Pierre Igot says:

    I have also just found this article, which provides more background information on archives: “StuffIt? Stuff it!

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