Got old ZIP files that OS X won't open? Try Zipeg

Last night I was going through my older files looking for a document from long, long ago. Back in the day when disk space was at a premium I used to ZIP up my files on a pretty regular basis.  On the Windows platform I evolved through a great many different utilities, from Arc through PKZip, WinZip and finally WinRAR.

While I like that OS X allows me to open most ZIP files without any additional software, I don't like the fact that it simply expands the ZIP file. There are times I really just need a single file from a collection of hundreds. In addition I had a problem opening several of my older ZIP files last night. I got this lovely little error:
So I started looking around for a simple tool to pull files out of older ZIP archives - ideally something that didn't make me unzip the entire thing. I saw that a number of people recommended StuffIt Deluxe but at $79.99 that just seemed far too much for what I needed. There is of course StuffIt Standard and even the free StuffIt Expander but all looked a little heavy for my needs. I did a little searching and found a really nice little application called Zipeg

Though it's just a tool for expanding archives (you cannot create them with it), I found it perfect for my needs. It's a free utility that makes it really easy to see the contents of a ZIP file and only pull out what you need - or the entire archive. You can always create a ZIP file directly in OS X by following these directions so the fact that Zipeg can't create a ZIP file is really no big deal for me.

The important part for me is that it was able to pull out the data I needed when I needed it, without any errors.

What else did I find?
Back in the 80s and early 90s I was a contributing technical editor for PC Week (now eWeek) and Network Computing Magazine - I also wrote a lot of free lance articles for various publications. So while I was sifting through one of my ZIP files I found an article I worked on for properly setting up a Windows 3.0 machine for development work. This particular document was dated May 15, 1991. So for a quick trip in the Way Back machine check out this little note I wrote about setting up memory:

The first step to setting up the right Windows environment is making sure you have enough memory.  The minimum I have found to be acceptable is 4MB, though 8MB is preffered.  Before the people that only have 1 or 2 MB's of RAM fall off their chairs, remember that memory is, as of this writing, down into the $50/MB range.  It is money well spent.

OK, at $50 / MB the 12GB I just planted into my Mac Pro would have cost $600,000. At that time the biggest hard drives that mortals could buy for their PCs were drives that held about 300MB and cost nearly $1,000 (usually people went with 120MB drives in the $375 range). Translate that $3.33 / MB into the 1TB drive I just bought and the cost would be $3.3M.

Maybe it was better not being able to open that old document.


Eytan said…
I used to like to figure out how much RAM has gone up from when I bought my 16K language card for my Apple ][+ in 1981. That was $285. If I were to make the same calculation, the 4 GB I bought with my new Mac Pro (to add to the 2 it came with) would have cost $74,711,040...
Oh, and that 30 MB Sider Hard Drive I bought for my Apple //e in 1985 was $700....
Ah, to reminisce :)
Thank you for the zipeg tip!
David Alison said…
@Eytan: Yeah man, reminiscing about the old days is a lot of fun. I was at lunch this afternoon relating this to a buddy and he said "Just wait and see what we're using ten years from now". If Moore's Law continues to hold true then we should have machines with between 8 and 12TB of memory and several hundred petabytes of storage.
Eytan said…
@David - not sure if you have read yet about the memristor, but it will allow us to break Moore's law and achieve INCREDIBLE advances in storage AND computational power. Right now they have memory in the capacity of 100 GB in 1 cm sq, and they are expecting to scale it up to the TB shortly. It has the speed of DRAM and significantly reduced power requirements and heat dissipation compared to the technology we currently use. 1 TB on a pin head is not far away...
David Alison said…
@Eytan: No, I had not - very interesting information that was just recently published though. Thanks for the tip!
Hendrik said…
Thanks so much for the tip. I have been looking for a program like this forever. Up to now I have been using 'The Unarchiver'. While that supports nearly all archive types under the sun it does not support looking into an archive without unpacking the whole thing.

That is a pretty bizarre icon.
Anonymous said…
Hi Dave, walkerj from the Mac Forums posting 'anonymously' again.

Have you acquainted yourself with Quick Look yet? If not it is awesome, and I use it all the time to take a, well, quick look at the contents of just about any file. Just select the item and hit the space bar. It's very fast; much faster than opening the files associated application.

There is a 'plug-in' for QuickLook for zip files such that when you invoke it on an archive it presents you a list of files contained within. I forget where I got it, but a quick google search should hook you up.
David Alison said…
@WalkerJ: Hey man - I thought I saw something floating around on the interwebs about a ZIP plugin but I thought it was just a viewer for Quick Look. Very often what I need to do is jump in and extract a single file.
Anonymous said…
DTI says

Thank goodness! I'm not saying I'd particularly go back to the PC after a year and a half but wow are there some things Apple users put up with that Windows users have been able to take for granted since, well *before* Windows 3.0!

I've used Zip files since the original PKZip cam out in the 1980s, including nearly ten years of digital photos. It was never a problem on the PC, especially after the Windows XP finder started treating ZIP files like ordinary native folders. This tool won't help me with the thousand or so 3.5" floppies I need to transfer to hard drives, but at least once I do I'll have a much easier time figuring out what's in them. So thanks!

The two other glaring omissions that maybe you can unwrap: How to replace the utterly idiotic Apple window sizing issues (real maximize, sensible minimize, cascade/tile and, especially, resize handles and all four corners and all four sides) with something useful. Also some kind of consistent, non-idiosyncratic alt+key-style keyboard alternative that let us do menu, dialog, and message-box navigation. Preferably with type-ahead. (Trivial example: Having to reach for the stupid mouse and wait for an alert so you can click "don't save" on a scratch document is infuriating if you know a Windows user just has to press "n".)

I really appreciate what you're doing.

David Alison said…
@DTI: I don't think there is a replacement for the way OS X handles windows resizing. The big thing there is philosophical difference: Windows applications are self-contained and have their own menus, etc. The Mac desktop (as it's been explained to me) is very much an active resource that is to be used to hold resources. For this reason it's rare that you will ever actually maximize the screen on a Mac application to take over the entire display.

As an old time Windows user I'm sure you can appreciate that it wasn't until Windows 95 that we were even able to have icons sitting on the "desktop". They sat in the Program Manager. This was the reason products like the Norton Desktop for Windows was so popular.

There is one thing I think I can help you out with though! There is an option in the System Preferences / Keyboard & Mouse / Keyboard Shortcuts to have all of the controls in windows and dialogs accessible with the Tab key. If you don't have that set you should enable it - that really helped me, especially in web forms so that I could tab through all the controls.

Hope this helps...
Hendrik said…
Take a look at MondoMouse.
It makes window moving and resizing a whole lot easier.

And once you have the setting that David mentioned enabled (or maybe even without that?) you can answer most standard dialogs with a single key. Return chooses the answer with the blue button (for example "Save"), space chooses the button with the blue outline ("Don't save") and Esc chooses "Cancel". Tab moves the blue outline.
Anonymous said…
If you have not tried Path Finder you should give it a look. If I remember correctly it has an integrated Stuffit engine.
Anonymous said…
Oh, you've got to try BetterZip. Zip, rar, etc., are handled, both creation and opening . . . also, WinZip AES encrypted, and only $20. Also, a BetterZip QuickLook is free . . . .

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