Turning a conventional file (whether a picture, video, music file, document or another type) or folder into a compressed zip file is very easy on a Mac:
- Right-click (or Ctrl-click) the file or folder
- Select 'Compress [name]'.
- Wait for a moment (very large files or folders with lots of files may take a while), and a new .zip file will appear in the same location as the original file (unless you've chosen a different destination - see below). You'll hear the system alert sound to indicate the process has completed.
That's it! This .zip file can now be emailed to a friend or simply stored until needed.
You can delete the original file if you wish, but you won't be able to view or use the zipped file in its present form: you'll need to unzip it first.
Compressing multiple files
To compress several files and/or folders, create a new folder (Shift + Cmd + N) within Finder or on the desktop and name it whatever you want the zip to be called. Drag and drop the files you want to be in the zip, but hold down Alt before releasing the mouse button so the files are copied there. Then hold down Ctrl and click the folder, selecting the Compress option on the menu. Once zipping has completed, drag the folder you created to the Trash.
Note that Windows users decompressing your zip will also see 'dot files' - files and folders whose filenames are preceded by dots or sometimes underscores (such as '.DS_Store' or '_MACOSX'). These are Mac system files and can be ignored. You can use a free app such as FolderWasher to remove dot files before creating the zip.
How to make zip files save somewhere else
You can change the destination of your compressed files by opening the app that does the compression. It's called Archive Utility, and can be found via a Spotlight search.
Open Archive Utility, then click the Archive Utility dropdown menu at the top of the screen and select Preferences. Click the menu labelled 'Save archive', and select 'into', and then choose a new destination. (By default it will save the zipped file in the same place as the original file.)
How to open (or 'unzip') a zip file on Mac
This is even easier than the last bit. You just have to double-click a zip file and it will open itself. The zip file will still be in its original location, but an unzipped copy will appear alongside it.
Should you need to decompress an archive that's not a zip - a .rar file, for example - then install The Unarchiver. This is free from the App Store and works in exactly the same way as the built-in zip tool - simply double-click the archive file and the files and folders will automatically be extracted to the same location.