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

Zip is a commonly used format to compress files, 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.

This article explains more about errors when expanding zip files and provides solutions to your unzip problem.

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

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

#1. Download Incomplete

If the zip file doesn’t download correctly, you can get errors when expanding 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.

#2. Permissions

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 need to grant you permission to open it and resend it.

#3. Password Protection

Some zipped folders/files require a password to unlock them. The owner usually posts the password somewhere on the site or download page.

#4. File Size

If the original compressed file is too big, your Mac cannot decompress it. You will have to use the Terminal to unzip huge files. See the additional sections below to learn how to expand large zip files using the Terminal.

#5. Incomplete Compression

You could have difficulty expanding a zip file if the original compression was done improperly. Common factors that could interrupt the compression process would be if the computer shuts down suddenly, there is a power failure, or the file is 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 compression. You must return to the original file and start the compression process 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 the 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, open the zip file via your Mac’s Terminal.

To unzip a file in the Terminal:

  1. Open “Finder” in the top menu on your Mac and go to “Applications.”
  2. Navigate to the “Utilities” folder.
  3. Double-click on “Terminal.”
  4. Copy/paste the following command without quotes:
    Unzip [filename].zip” Replace “filename” with the name of the file you are trying to expand.
  5. 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.” Most likely, you’re getting this error because the zip file download was interrupted or did not run correctly. Try redownloading the file to your Mac. Don’t close the website you’re downloading from when you redownload the zip file. 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 + Space” keys. The Spotlight app will open.
  2. Type Terminal into the Spotlight search bar and press the “Enter” key.
  3. When the Terminal opens, copy and paste the following without quotes:
    unzip [filename].zip.” 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 download the file again. 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 can open it.

Fixing Error 22

When expanding a zip file, some people get a standard 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 cache 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, as it could cause app errors.

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

You likely don’t have access if you received an error message that said “Permission Denied” when trying to expand a file. The original user who compressed the file must give you the necessary 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 can 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. Dealing with an error when accessing your files can be frustrating, whether due to faulty downloads or interrupted compressions. 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 expanding 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.

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

Joe Hansem says:
This advice is useless. The only solution I found that works is to put the file on a USB and plug it into my Windows laptop which unzips it forthwith and then transfer it back to my Mac.
Steve Larner says:
Yeah, that was probably just one file, but some errors occur on a Mac based on what OS and app were used to compress the original files/folder. For instance, a Windows-only zipper may create issues when uncompressing on a Mac.

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