here's the thing

Mac/Windows tip: Cram a bunch of files into a single “zip” archive

Got a bunch of little files that you want to send to a friend? Well, you could always drag them all into an email and send them as attachments, but talk about messy.

A cleaner, tidier alternative is to take all those little (or not-so-little) files and compress them into an archive—or, to be more specific, a “zip” archive.

Think of a zip archive as a suitcase containing a series of smaller files. Just select the documents, photos, or other files you want to compress, then “zip” them up into a single, tightly packed archive that’s smaller than the overall size of the originals.

Both Mac and Windows systems have their own, easy-to-use archive utilities. Indeed, they’re only a right-click away from your desktop.

The downside to creating a zip archive is that there’s no easy way to see what’s inside an archive folder—or at least, there’s no easy way using the “native” archive utilities in Mac OS X and Windows.

That said, there are plenty of third-party apps (such as WinZip, perhaps the most single popular “shareware” utility of all time) that will inspect the contents of a zip archive, among other things.

So, ready to start zipping? Here we go…

For Mac:

A simple right-click is all it takes to create a “zip” archive in Windows.

For Windows:

Bonus tip

Want to create an empty archive folder first, then add files to it later? On a Windows PC, you sure, can.

Just right-click on your desktop, select “New” from the pop-up menu, then select “Compressed (zipped) folder” from the secondary menu.

Once the empty zip folder appears, just open it, then start dragging and dropping files.

Looking for more Mac tips? Click here, or click here for more Windows tips.