Quick Tip:
Zip or StuffIt – File Compression Made Easy

File compression is an indispensible tool in every graphic designer’s tool kit. If you plan on emailing large files – like PDFs for proofs, fonts, or graphics – file compression makes the task manageable.

But Macs and Windows use different file-compression programs. Macs use a program called StuffIt, and Windows uses a program called Zip. So before sending a compressed file, make sure you know whether the recipient uses a Mac or Windows.

Here’s an example of how problems can arise. A client sent me Mac fonts – in a Zip file – for a project I was working on. Although those fonts were for the Mac, I could not open them because the Mac system software I was using couldn’t uncompress the Zip file.

Things are a bit simpler now on the Mac side. If you are running a Mac using OS X 10.3 or newer, the system software will uncompress Zip files. Just control-click on the file and choose “Open with Archive Utility.”

If you run Mac system software OS X 10.2 or older, including OS 9, use Smith Micro Software’s free StuffIt Expander to do the job. You can download this valuable utility at http://my.smithmicro.com/mac/stuffitexpander/download.html.

If you’re on Windows, you can get a free version of StuffIt Expander that will let you expand StuffIt, Zip, and other compressed files in Windows at http://my.smithmicro.com/win/stuffit.html.

StuffIt also offers a full version of Expander for Windows. If you are dealing with a lot of Mac/Windows file transfers, this program ($49.99) might be a good investment.

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: June 5, 2008

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