I’m thrilled that OSX has the built in ability to create .zip archives. But, have you ever opened an OSX archive on a PC? It has extra junk in it. The extra files are invisible on OSX, but if you are sending the archive to a not-so-computer-literate friend (or client) using a PC, the extra junk will only confuse them. You’ll have to say something like… oh, that’s just something my operating system does, you can ignore those files. It’s a little embarrassing.
If you use Stuffit Deluxe to create your archive, you don’t get the added junk. But Stuffit costs $80, and in my opinion, has become a bit of a tired old, buggy, dog of a program.
Luckily, there is a freeware alternative out there. It’s called CleanArchiver. The name pretty much says it all… it creates clean archives. I’ve used it for a while now and think it’s great!
3 thoughts on “OSX zip files have extra junk”
The extra ‘junk’ are the metadata that make the MacOS user experience so much nicer than Windows. The “zip” file format was not designed with Mac OS metadata in mind, so the additional stuff gets stored in the __MACOSX objects. On the Mac, the experience is seamless, but on Windows it isn’t. Apple wanted to use a standard archive format, so they didn’t have many options. StuffIt Deluxe doesn’t have the same problem because they designed their own archive format (and it was a Mac program first), and they write both the Mac and Windows versions of the software. Their archives are proprietary and probably contain the extra ‘junk’ but their program ignores it on Windows.
Actually, I was referring to standard zip files in all 3 cases (OSX, Stuffit, and CleanArchiver). I don’t use sit, or any of the other Stuffit formats. CleanArchiver gives you the option to omit the extra files, and I am assuming Stuffit does it by default.
I was decompressing the files on the PC using the capabilities built into Windows XP. I don’t have Stuffit installed.
Apple could have given us a preference that would allow us to include or omit the extra files for greatest compatibility. The Apple mail program does this with attachments by giving us a “Windows Friendly” preference. They should have done this with zip files as well.
Allas, nice as cleanarchiver may seem, it won’t make archives that are able to store the required meta-data for some installers, even when not excluding the ‘extra junk’. So, it’s nice for sending images or other binary data, but useless when sending apps.
But, you’re right, Apple should’ve included a preference setting for the ‘extra junk’ so we wouldn’t need an extra tool just to make clean archives. Now I go on in search of a stuffit uninstaller for my mac :)