Unzip Gz File Mac

admin2 March 2024Last Update :

Exploring the World of Gzipped Files on Mac

Gzipped files, commonly known by their .gz extension, are a staple in the world of file compression. They offer a balance between compression ratio and speed, making them a popular choice for reducing file size and speeding up file transfers. For Mac users, handling these files can be a seamless experience with the right tools and knowledge. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the art of unzipping .gz files on a Mac, exploring built-in utilities, third-party software, and command-line magic.

Understanding Gzipped Files

Before we delve into the practical aspects of unzipping .gz files, it’s essential to understand what these files are and why they’re used. A .gz file is a compressed file created using the gzip compression algorithm. This algorithm is designed for speed and efficiency, often used to compress single files for storage or transport. It’s worth noting that gzip is not meant for archiving multiple files into a single file; that’s where formats like .tar come into play, often resulting in .tar.gz or .tgz files.

Unzipping Gzipped Files on Mac: Built-in Utilities

MacOS comes equipped with a set of built-in tools that can handle a variety of compressed file formats, including .gz files. These tools are accessible through the graphical user interface (GUI) or the command line, offering flexibility based on user preference.

Using Finder and Archive Utility

The simplest way to unzip a .gz file on a Mac is through the Finder, which uses the Archive Utility:

  • Locate the .gz file you wish to unzip.
  • Double-click the file.
  • The Archive Utility will automatically unzip the file and place the uncompressed version in the same directory.

This method is straightforward and requires no additional software or commands, making it ideal for users who prefer a point-and-click approach.

Unzipping via Terminal

For those who are comfortable with the command line, the Terminal offers a powerful way to manage .gz files. Here’s how to unzip a .gz file using the Terminal:

  1. Open the Terminal application (found in Applications > Utilities).
  2. Navigate to the directory containing the .gz file using the cd command.
  3. Type the following command and press Enter:
gunzip filename.gz

Replace “filename.gz” with the actual name of your .gz file. The gunzip command will decompress the file and leave you with the original, uncompressed file in the same directory.

Third-Party Software for Unzipping Gzipped Files

While MacOS’s built-in tools are sufficient for most users, there are scenarios where third-party software can offer additional features and convenience. Let’s explore some popular options.

The Unarchiver

The Unarchiver is a versatile and user-friendly application that can handle many compressed file formats, including .gz files. It integrates seamlessly with Finder, allowing users to open compressed files as if they were any other file type. Here’s how to use it:

  • Download and install The Unarchiver from the Mac App Store or the developer’s website.
  • Once installed, open The Unarchiver and set it as the default application for .gz files.
  • Now, you can simply double-click any .gz file, and The Unarchiver will take care of the rest.

WinZip for Mac

WinZip is another well-known name in the world of file compression. The Mac version of WinZip provides a robust set of features for managing .gz files and other compressed formats:

  • Download and install WinZip for Mac from the official website.
  • Open WinZip and use its intuitive interface to navigate to your .gz file.
  • Select the file and choose to unzip it to your desired location.

WinZip for Mac also offers encryption, file sharing, and backup features, making it a comprehensive solution for users with advanced needs.

Command-Line Techniques for Power Users

The Terminal in MacOS is a gateway to a vast array of powerful command-line utilities. For those who prefer a more hands-on approach, here are some advanced techniques for managing .gz files.

Combining tar and gzip Commands

When dealing with .tar.gz or .tgz files, which are tar archives compressed with gzip, you can use a combination of tar and gzip commands to extract the contents:

tar -xzf filename.tar.gz

This command will extract the contents of the tar archive after decompressing it, all in one step.

Preserving the Original Compressed File

By default, the gunzip command deletes the original .gz file after decompression. If you want to keep the compressed version, you can use the following command:

gunzip -c filename.gz > filename

This command uses the -c option to write the output to standard output (stdout) and then redirects it to a file, leaving the original .gz file intact.

Automating Unzipping Tasks

For users who frequently work with .gz files, automating the unzipping process can save time and reduce repetitive tasks. MacOS’s Automator app allows you to create custom workflows, including ones for unzipping files.

Creating an Automator Workflow

Here’s how to create a simple Automator workflow to unzip .gz files:

  • Open Automator and choose to create a new “Quick Action.”
  • Set the workflow to receive “files or folders” in “Finder.”
  • Search for and add the “Run Shell Script” action.
  • In the shell script action, enter the gunzip command.
  • Save your Quick Action with a relevant name.

Now, you can right-click any .gz file in Finder and select your Quick Action to unzip it automatically.

FAQ Section

Can I unzip multiple .gz files at once on a Mac?

Yes, you can unzip multiple .gz files at once using the Terminal. Navigate to the directory containing the files and use the following command:

gunzip *.gz

This command will decompress all .gz files in the current directory.

Is it safe to use third-party software for unzipping files on Mac?

It is generally safe to use reputable third-party software like The Unarchiver or WinZip for Mac. Always download software from official sources or trusted app stores to minimize security risks.

How can I compress a file into a .gz format on Mac?

To compress a file into a .gz format, you can use the gzip command in the Terminal:

gzip filename

Replace “filename” with the name of the file you wish to compress. The original file will be replaced with a compressed version ending in .gz.

What is the difference between .gz and .zip files?

The main difference between .gz and .zip files is the compression algorithm used. Gzip is often better for compressing single files and is a standard on Unix-like systems, while zip can archive and compress multiple files and is more common on Windows systems.

Can I preview the contents of a .gz file without unzipping it?

Yes, you can preview the contents of a .gz file without unzipping it using the following Terminal command:

gunzip -c filename.gz | less

This command will display the contents in a paginated view within the Terminal.


Unzipping .gz files on a Mac is a straightforward process, whether you prefer the simplicity of the GUI, the power of the Terminal, or the additional features of third-party software. Understanding how to manage these compressed files can enhance your productivity and make file handling more efficient. With the insights and methods provided in this article, you’re now equipped to tackle any .gz file that comes your way on your Mac.


For further reading and advanced techniques, consider exploring the following resources:

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