BetterZip: Review and Giveaway

LogoRecently I found myself needing to transfer a 3GB file to another computer with a 512MB Flash Drive. There are a fair amount of ways to do that, but I knew one that was much simpler and more Mac-like than the others: BetterZip.

BetterZip by MacItBetter retails for only $19.95, compared to $79.99 for a tool like Stuffit Deluxe, which doesn’t even have as many features as BetterZip. BetterZip can not only split files into pieces of a certain size, but it can also open archives without having to expand them and then extract only certain files! For someone like me who likes to archive his mail every year (about 100MB .zip file), this is perfect so I can see what mail is there and only extract a certain message. If you want to protect your files you can use up to 256 bits of encryption on your archives. It is the perfect piece of software for all your zipping and archiving in a flash!

BetterZip 1.6 has just been released, which includes a great new feature which directly extracts archives instead of opening a new window with its contents. In versions before this, it got annoying to have to click on “Extract” in the big window that popped up, so I’m glad that this has been fixed. It also helps for quick accessing of all files in an archive. You can turn this feature on or off in the general preferences if you don’t like it. Even when it is on you can open an archive in a window by holding down the Control and Command keys while the archive is opening with BetterZip.


Another feature of BetterZip, and new in 1.6, is instead of reading file extensions to get the format, it reads the data. Before, if you renamed a .zip into a .sit, it would try to decompress it as a .sit. When you did that, it would usually not decompress. BetterZip can also show hidden files in archives, so you can see every file that is being extracted onto your computer. But if you have the quick extraction feature on (as described above) it does not show you those files.

BetterZip also lets you choose which types of files are handled by the program. This made my switch from Stuffit much easier, so now every compressed file is opened with BetterZip. This feature is located in the “File Types” tab of the preferences. You can just click “Handle All” to handle all files, and “Handle None”, if for some reason you don’t want to handle files in BetterZip.


BetterZip is a great program for handling compressed files, extracting only certain files from archives and seeing all files in an archive, but it wouldn’t be complete without the BetterZip QuickLook generator. This plugin can be downloaded from their website. You just drag it to your QuickLook plugins folder, and when you use QuickLook on a file handled by BetterZip, you will see a list of the files in the archive! This is my total favorite feature of BetterZip, because it makes it so easy to quickly view all files of an archive. You don’t even have to open the file with BetterZip for this to work! It does not, however, save the folder (open or closed) states. So with archives that have many folders with many items, every time you view it in QuickLook the folders will be opened.

MacItBetter has very generously given MacApper 5 licenses to giveaway! If you want to enter the giveaway, just comment on this with one feature that you would like to see in BetterZip. The giveaway will end on April 25th. And remember, if you don’t win, BetterZip costs only $19.95.


59 Responses to “BetterZip: Review and Giveaway”

  1. roderick on April 18th, 2008 6:08 am

    Quicklook integration when choosing which files to extract.

    Choice of views when choosing which files to extract, icon view, coverflow, column view e.t.c

  2. Warren Frederick on April 18th, 2008 6:37 am

    Got me out of trouble when I quickly needed to open a b2z archive.

    Could use an easier interface as I struggled when in a hurry

  3. Louis on April 18th, 2008 7:02 am

    How about the ability to create a self extracting zipped file. Then others can open the compressed file without having to install any other applications, or to figure out arcane unix commands to extract a .bz2 file.

  4. Dean on April 18th, 2008 7:05 am

    Great app, has replaced the many different ones already on my Mac – for a few days anyway. I think an easier interface to navigate would be a start and would really set this app away from the dull, boring and “executive” windows style apps out there on the market.

    Thanks for a great app!

  5. Nathan on April 18th, 2008 8:43 am

    Personally, I would love a function of “drop boxes” that sit on the desktop that have different outcomes when you drop files into them.

    For example, you would customize a box to .zip files into a specific folder structure based on file type or other preferences.
    Or, another seperate drop-box to .rar files with an upload FTP address (either for BetterZip to FTP itself or link into various other FTP software).

    Also work in reverse – I download a lot of music, and would like to drop an archive into a drop-box, that will extract to a predifined location based on my preferences.

    But in the meantime, I would love BetterZip – as current offerings are featureless…

  6. MJ Valente on April 18th, 2008 9:06 am

    Nathan’s idea is cool.

    I’d also like BetterZip to implement a record of archives already open and where the files where placed.

    (One of the things I liked the best when I tried it was the integration with Default Folder X, that makes the saving of files fast and very smooth.)

  7. Chriswan on April 18th, 2008 9:29 am

    I’m not here for a license. Since Robert already provided me with a complimentary license 4 months ago

    This app is feature-packed yet lightweight. A 3.3MB of pure goodness

    My suggestion is to give the app a more Leopard-ish (iTunes 7, iLife ’08) look, especially on the lower part of the GUI

    If you look at the icons at ‘preferences’, the white pixels around ‘Columns’ and ‘File Types’ had been fixed on version 1.6.1 and said to be reimproved on future version

  8. Jorge on April 18th, 2008 9:47 am

    “BetterZip by MacItBetter retails for only $19.95, compared to $79.99 for a tool like Stuffit Deluxe, which doesn't even have as many features as BetterZip.”

    Are you sure that is an accurate statement? “which doesn't even have as many features as BetterZip.”

  9. Nanda on April 18th, 2008 9:47 am

    I find that BetterZip has difficulty to extract multi file RAR and encrypted RAR

  10. Joe Turner on April 18th, 2008 9:52 am

    @Jorge, yes, I believe it is. I owned stuffit deluxe, and it cannot look into archives to tell you what files there are, there were about 5 different apps, one for each thing (annoying!), I don’t think it has a quicklook generator. BetterZip has features that are good for the average mac user

  11. Joe Turner on April 18th, 2008 9:54 am

    Theses were things it didn’t have when I used it, and these are also not included in stuffit standard.

  12. Jeff on April 18th, 2008 10:03 am

    Nice app and certainly a better alternative to the bloated Stuffit. I can’t add much to the already suggested improvements, save one. How about a way to display a little pop up that shows the contents of an archive when you hover your cursor over it?

  13. Nate on April 18th, 2008 10:09 am

    Wow, yeah. I had been a stuffit user for ever, and finally got tired of paying for it, but hadn’t picked an alternative yet. I think this is gonna be it.

    I have no idea if it is possible or not, thanks to Mail’s lack of a solid plugin architecture, but the ability to view the contents of an archived email attachement Before you actually copy the archive out of email, would be Awesome!

  14. Henry on April 18th, 2008 10:10 am

    Instead of downloading BZ and BZ Quicklook Generator separately for Leopard users, can we have it as a single zip file?

  15. Joe Turner on April 18th, 2008 10:16 am

    @Henry: That is a good feature suggestion

  16. Stuart on April 18th, 2008 10:45 am

    Leopard animations! I like to play with my applications.

  17. Shane Smith on April 18th, 2008 11:09 am

    It would be nice to have a Contextual menu item that could collect a group of files and then stuffit into an the archive of your choice. You would need a dialogue with folder name and archive choice of course.

  18. Maxim on April 18th, 2008 11:17 am

    i’d like to see a feature where BZ can open-extract-close, like stuffit expander or the unarchiver.

  19. Joe Turner on April 18th, 2008 11:18 am

    @Maxim, as I explained in the review, it has that now. Paragraph 3

  20. Ammon Beckstrom on April 18th, 2008 11:42 am

    I would like to be able to add and remove files from a compressed file regardless of the compression type used (zip, rar, etc).

  21. Bryan on April 18th, 2008 11:49 am

    This is awesome. I have been unhappy with stuffit for years. I don’t want one of the free licenses because I would like to buy it to help support great macware, especially when it is offered at such a great price.

    I did see a few bugs and small tweaks/feature requests that could be made.

    1. There is a bug when setting the columns in preferences. When you check or uncheck “Kind” nothing happens in the main window until you check or uncheck something else and then kind is updated in the main window.

    2. It would be great if the status bar at the bottom of the window would show the compressed size along with the uncompressed size when viewing archive contents. You may not be able to show that if new files are added without saving, but at least it could show until then.

    3. .tbz and .tgz files don’t show the packed size or ratio when those columns are in the view. That information would be very helpful.

    I think this program is very simple and blows away stuffit for usability.

    I’m off to buy my copy now!

  22. Dice on April 18th, 2008 11:58 am

    Looks to me like a great product!

    What I would suggest would be to have the ability to compact multi files and/or folder to multi files

    Example: take any 10 folder and compact them to 10 separate compact files.

    I do this allot on my windows system using different programs and would love to have it on this.

  23. Matthew McCullough on April 18th, 2008 12:13 pm

    My ideas for BetterZip are as follows:

    1) A “ask me when I’m installing” replacement/supplement to the right click “Compress X Items” in the Finder Right context menu that invokes BetterZip instead of the build in archive tool of OSX.

    2) Integration with QuickSilver so that files that process with the comma trick can be routed to BetterZip to be zipped.

    3) For hardcore keyboard users, Command F should be mapped by default to the Find field. Command F, type some characters and then Enter should take you to the first result in the list. This would be more mac like for keyboarders.

  24. Robert Rezabek on April 18th, 2008 12:27 pm

    Wow, I am really overwhelmed. Thanks for the many great ideas and thoughts on what really matters to you in an archiver. A few things you have mentioned are already on my to-do list others have just been added.

    @Nate: If you are on Leopard, just install the BetterZip Quick Look Generator and activate it from within Mail.

    @Ammon: Maybe I don’t understand correctly, but BetterZip can add and remove files to/from existing archives: Open the archive, modify it the way you want, and finally save the archive.

    @Bryan: tbz and tgz don’t have a compressed value for each file, because the files are first put in a tar archive (by the way, that’s what the t in the extension stands for) and that tar file is then compressed.

  25. Jeff T on April 18th, 2008 1:14 pm

    Looks like a great lightweight product – nice to see in a time where even some Mac products are starting to get the typical Microsoft bloat.

    I use the built-in OS X archive/compress function when you ctrl-click an item, and while I realize that it is not the best at compression, i do like the convenience. I don’t know if BetterZip has this feature or not, but it would be nice if they incorporated that kind of convenience.

  26. Phillip on April 18th, 2008 1:33 pm

    I tried BetterZip for a week and I loved it. The thing I would like to see implemented, aside the features already mentioned above, would be quite simple – options to split archives in standard sizes such as Floppy Disk, CD700 & 800, DVD5 and DVD9… Currently you have to enter the size yourself, but not everyone knows the exact size of a DVD5, so why not offer it while creating an archive? :)

    One other thing, which is actually needed much more in my opinion – batch extracting.
    For example, you give BetterZip a folder full of folders which contain zip files and want them all extracted to some place.
    Instead of opening each file yourself, BetterZip could do it all.

    Or perhaps an icon on the desktop in which you can drop zip files or a folder containing zip files and then BetterZip will extract everything right away or when you tell it to, no questions asked – just extract everything to a default or it could ask you for a folder of your choice. You can even make the ‘defaults’ changeable.

    Sure, you could do all this with Automator, but it would be VERY nice to have it built-in BetterZip, don’t you think? :)

    Hope you like this idea and that you will implement it at some point. :)

  27. whistle_440 on April 18th, 2008 3:06 pm

    I’d really like to see rzip ( integration for processing really large files… the process is memory intensive, but worth it for really large files, like virtual machines, disk images, and the like.

  28. Brent on April 18th, 2008 3:19 pm

    I’d love to see the ability to set up user-presets (file size and label) for splitting archives into chunks. So for example you’ve got a 15MB preset for emailing, a 1GB preset for your thumb drive, and so on.

    Adding onto this, it would be great to access these presets through contextual menus. Right click on a folder and select “Compress and Split for Gmail” as an example. It would also be nice if you could create droplets that could be left on the desktop or pulled into the Finder’s toolbar, as others have suggested.

  29. Sinbad on April 18th, 2008 4:15 pm

    I’d like to see the ability to convert archives from one format to another, for example from RAR to ZIP or from StuffIt to DMG. This would then make BetterZip perfect for my needs.

  30. Gary on April 18th, 2008 4:30 pm

    Contextual integration into the Finder would be great; that way I could replace the default compression program.

  31. Jason on April 18th, 2008 4:48 pm

    I’d like to see self-extraction implemented in the compression process.


  32. Jorge on April 18th, 2008 5:20 pm

    I’ve used stuffit for years, but since there has been such a response to BetterZip I’ll download it and check it out for myself…

  33. Ray on April 19th, 2008 12:22 am

    It would be nice to see good context menu integration on this program.

  34. Antonio on April 19th, 2008 3:42 am

    quicklook feature is what i nedeed, hurra apple&company revolution

  35. Nick c on April 19th, 2008 3:33 pm

    Looks like a great app that will make archiving my files much easier.

    I have seen some apps that allow you to view the contents of .zip files in a coverflow/quicklook style without extracting them first, could this be added to Betterzip to allow speedy viewing of the .zip files contents?

  36. Nightstrike on April 19th, 2008 8:16 pm

    Great program, but I think it could look a little nicer/simpler. Fewer options unless you ask for them? Like one of those fun drag-the-file-in interfaces… with a few more options.

  37. James C on April 19th, 2008 8:24 pm

    compressed files contents indexed in Spotlight.

    As far as Spotlight is concerned is really /mycrap/*

  38. graffito on April 20th, 2008 1:02 am

    run from usb flash key.

  39. Alex on April 20th, 2008 8:43 am

    This seems like a great program, it would be nice to have .sit and.sitx extraction support.

  40. Alex on April 20th, 2008 8:47 am

    I just seen that it supports sit, so just sitx support and it would be the only program used for my archive/extraction solution.

  41. cbi on April 20th, 2008 2:37 pm

    Maybe you could include some sort of video tutorial on how to use the product. I’m unfamiliar with archive programs, and found it quite difficult to use, probably just me though…

  42. James C on April 20th, 2008 5:58 pm

    par(2) support

  43. rebka on April 21st, 2008 7:53 am

    I’d like to see the QL-Plugin to extract individual files only
    The QL Plugin is great btw!

  44. Zealot on April 21st, 2008 11:33 am

    Quick look integration sounds fun to me .

    PS : im kind of late but waht the hell

  45. Allen on April 21st, 2008 2:16 pm

    The most important thing to me is having a user interface that’s not overly complicated. .zip and .rar formatting are good for me also, the program should be really lightweight. Always a good thing.

  46. Rolio T. on April 22nd, 2008 9:12 am

    For all of you wanting Finder CM plug-in and handling of DMG and ISO files in a similar way that the archives are handled, check out Springy at It includes both the application and the CM.

  47. David on April 22nd, 2008 10:09 am

    Stuffit X support. We’d like to get rid of Stuffit at my company!

  48. Brian on April 22nd, 2008 4:10 pm

    Quicklook at individual files from within the program itself. Not just an overall view of the files in a list, but examining the files within, IE reading text files, showing pictures, etc.

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  50. macpug on April 24th, 2008 5:46 am

    I agree with the idea of something like ‘smart boxes’ that will generate a specific action when a file is dropped in a box.
    I, too, had a little trouble finding my way around at first…would LOVE a video tutorial a la ScreenCast or ScreenFlick.
    Great product! I’m still fumbling with it a bit, but getting better.

  51. Abubaker Shamlan on April 25th, 2008 12:20 pm

    There’s a feature that most compression utilities don’t have
    which is a very very very important feature

    It’s uncompressing multiple rar files

    The only software that is capable of uncompressing multiple rar files is RAR Expander

    please add this to the feature set.

    Thank you

  52. Baronoff on April 25th, 2008 1:02 pm

    I would like to have it deal with .rar archives as well. At least decompressing, but preferably creating as well.

  53. Phillip on April 27th, 2008 8:10 am

    It can already deal with RAR files. :)

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  55. lovismith on December 17th, 2008 2:40 pm

    how do i use this program. i added all the zip files to the extracting box. then presses extract. and nothing happens. p.s i have no prior knowledge in computers, i’m just trying to get some help. any help would be much appreciated.

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    Creation of self-extracting archives and full compatibility with encrypted .zip and .rar files are the most important features for me.

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