I can count on one hand the number of things that Windows does far better than OS X does—in fact, I think I can count them on one thumb: Windows leaves Apple OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion in the dust when it comes to managing ZIP archives. Under Windows, when you double-click on a ZIP archive, it opens an Explorer window that lets you view or run the files inside. Under OS X, when you double-click on a ZIP archive, a built-in utility extracts all the files in the archive to a folder—whether or not you only wanted to look inside the archive or extract one or two files. That’s why I spent a relatively whopping $19.95 for BetterZip, a utility that does for OS X what Windows does by itself—and also much more.
When I open a ZIP archive in BetterZip, I see a three-pane display. At the center is a tree-structured list of files in the archive itself. On the right is a preview pane showing the content of the file selected in the file list. On the left is a Favorites pane, with a tree-structured list of folders that I’ve added to that pane because I tend to store archives in them (for example, my Downloads folder). By selecting files in the central file-list pane I can extract one or more files anywhere I want, or control-click on the file and use an Open With option to open it with any program I want, just as I can in the OS X Finder. And by dragging a file into that pane from anywhere else in OS X, I can add files to an existing archive. As you’d expect, I can also delete files from an archive and rename them.
By default, both OS X itself and BetterZip create ZIP archives with Mac-specific information in them so that the OS X Finder knows how to display and open the included files. This Mac-specific information isn’t visible to a Mac user who opens a Mac-created archive, but when a Windows user opens the same archive, it looks as if it’s cluttered with junk files, and the files that you actually want are hidden inside a sub-folder in the archive. BetterZip fixes this problem by including an option to “Save Without Mac Stuff.” This option is one of BetterZip’s built-in “presets,” which are essentially a set of specifications for creating and saving different kinds of archives. For example, another built-in preset lets you save an archive in the open-source 7z format, complete with a password and strong AES-256 encryption, a much stronger level of security than standard ZIP encryption.
Take a Better Peek
Even if you don’t use BetterZip itself, you can use the same vendor’s free QuickLook generator for ZIP archives (downloadable from www.macitbetter.com). With this QuickLook plugin installed, OS X’s QuickLook displays a hierarchical list of the files inside an archive. Without it, QuickLook displays merely a generic icon. The QuickLook plugin won’t let you preview or extract individual files, as BetterZip itself can, but it’s ideal for—you guessed it—a quick look inside any archive.
Yes, BetterZip seems expensive for a utility that should have been built into the OS—though it’s hardly macitbetter’s fault that Apple ZIP management is weak. I myself hesitated before buying it, hoping to find a freeware alternative. Still, I’ve never found anything better, and, now that I’ve bought BetterZip, it’s paid for itself many times over with its time-saving conveniences. BetterZip is a clear Editors’ Choice for Mac OS utilities.
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|OS Compatibility||Mac OS|
|Type||Business, Personal, Professional|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc