How To Fix the “Unable to Expand Zip” Error on a Mac

Zip is a commonly used format to compress files and is denoted by the .zip file name. People use zip files to drastically reduce the size of a file for more accessible storage or to fit the size limitations for email.

How To Fix the

When the files are unzipped, they return to their regular size and function. But some widespread errors can happen during the unzip process.

Read on to learn more about errors when expanding zip files and their solutions.

Common Fixes for “Unable To Expand Zip” on a Mac Device

Several common errors can cause you to have problems when expanding your zip files on your Mac.

Download Incomplete

If the zip file doesn’t download correctly, you can get errors when trying to expand the file. Typically, this would occur if there was a disruption in your internet during the download. You can also experience an incomplete download if you exit the window you were downloading from too quickly. This may have disrupted the connection between the source of the download and your Mac.

If you think an incomplete download is the source of your error, try downloading the file again.


You need permission to expand a zip file. If you downloaded the file from a website, the file likely didn’t have any permissions. If you received the file from a non-public source, you need to ask them if there are special permissions on the zip file. If so, they will need to grant you permission and resend.

File Size

If the compressed original file is too big, your Mac will be unable to decompress it. You will have to use your Mac’s Terminal to expand huge files. See the additional sections below to find out how to use the terminal to expand large zip files with error codes.

Incomplete Compression

If the original compression was done improperly, you could have difficulty expanding a zip file. Common factors that could interrupt a compression would be if the computer shut down suddenly, there was a power failure, or if the file was moved from its original location.

If any disruption occurs during the compression process, the file becomes damaged. Unfortunately, there is no way to fix a zip file damaged during the compression process. You will have to return to the original file and start the compression again. This should resolve the issue.

What is the Error 1 Associated with Unable To Expand

If you tried to expand a zip file on your Mac and received the Archive Utility error box, you likely got “Error 1-Operation not permitted” as a result. This is one of users’ most common zip errors when expansion fails. Reasons for this failed expansion could be any of the reasons listed above in this article. If you receive this error message, you should open the zip file via Mac’s terminal.

To unzip a file in the terminal:

  1. Open the Launch Finder on your Mac and go to “Applications.”
  2. Navigate to the “Utilities” folder and double click “Terminal.”

  3. Input the following command: “Unzip”. Replace “filename” with the name of the file you are trying to expand.
  4. Press Enter on your keyboard.

Your file should start to unzip right away. If the terminal cannot open the zip file, you may experience a

download error.

Redownload the zip file to your Mac and try opening it again. The file should expand without issues if the error resulted from a download failure.

What is the Error 79 Zip Error?

The Archive Utility gives the following error code to many Mac users trying to expand a zip file: “Error 79-Inappropriate file type or format.” The most likely reason you’re getting this error is that the zip file download was interrupted or did run correctly. Try redownloading the file to your Mac. When you re-download, don’t close the website you’re downloading from. If the error happens again, your next best option is to open the file using your Mac’s terminal.

To expand a zip file in the terminal:

  1. Press and hold the Command and Space keys. Spotlight will open.
  2. Type “Terminal” into the Spotlight search bar and hit the Enter key.
  3. When the terminal opens, type “unzip” and replace “filename” with the name of the zip file.
  4. Press Enter on your keyboard.

Your file should begin to expand.

Fixing the “No Such File or Directory” Error

Expanding a zip file on Mac may result in “Error 2-No Such File or Directory.” This error stems from the Archive Utility not understanding the file name and then thinking the file doesn’t exist. The best way to fix this error is to re-download the file. Try not to let the computer go to sleep or leave the website you are downloading from.

Once you have downloaded the new zip file, you should be able to open it.

Fixing Errror 22

When trying to expand a zip file, some people get a common error: “Error 22-Invalid Argument.” This error is typically caused by junk files interfering with your computer. The best way to deal with junk files is to delete them. You could resolve Error 22 by deleting the caches on your Mac. Use the following steps:

  1. Launch the Finder window and click “Go.”
  2. Select “Go to Folder.”
  3. Type “~/Library/Caches” in the text box and press Enter.
  4. A series of folders will appear on your screen. You need to click into each folder and delete the files there. Please do not delete the folder itself, as it could cause errors in your apps.

Once these files are cleared out, the file should expand. If there are too many folders to clear out manually, you should invest in a program that will clear these files automatically. Many of these programs can all be set to clear the cache routinely, which can help avoid future errors.

Unable to Expand Zip File on a Mac – Permission Denied

If you received an error message that said “Permission Denied” when trying to expand a file, you likely don’t have access to that file. The original user who compressed the file will need to give you permission to unzip the file. If you know you have permission to open the zip file, try moving it to another folder. Expanding a folder in a server folder may cause this error if you only have access to read the folder. Move the compression file to your Desktop, where you will have access to read and write files stored there. This should fix the issue.

Expanding All Your Zip Files

While using a zip file is one of the best ways to compress large files, they have a reputation for producing errors on Macs. Whether due to faulty downloads or interrupted compressions, dealing with an error when trying to access your files can be frustrating. When the expansion does work, it’s such a straightforward process that many still prefer it over other options.

Have you ever received an error code when trying to expand a zip file on your Mac? Which error was it, and how did you resolve it? Let us know all about your experience in the comments below.

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