When you open a dmg or zip file (which we’ll refer to as an “archive” in this article), a tool called Archive Utility is opened briefly to extract the archive and then by default create a folder in the same directory the archive was located. After extracting the contents of the archive, the archive is left as-is, showing the new folder in a Finder screen. This type of workflow works for a lot of people. But not all.
This is why Apple built a Preference pane for the Archive Utility. To access, simply open Archive Utility, click the Archive Utility menu and click Preferences.
You then see the Archive Utility Preferences. Here, there are a few fields that can change the default behavior of how OS X handles archives. Each field is as follows:
- Save expanded files: Sets whether extracted files stay in the directory the archive was in or go into a custom directory, used for all expanded archives.
- After expanding: Configures what happens after an archive is expanded. The default behavior is to leave the archive alone, but archives can also be moved to the trash or deleted immediately (bypassing the trash). Additionally, as with the expanded files, archives can, once extracted, be moved to a static location (e.g. onto a NAS).
- Reveal expanded item(s) in Finder: This checkbox controls the new Finder window opened when an archive is expanded. To disable that feature, uncheck the box.
- Keep expanding if possible: This checkbox expands an archive inside an archive if one exists.
- Save Archive: When creating a new archive, allows the user to define whether that archive is saved in the same directory the files being archived were in (the default behavior) or whether the resultant archive is stored in a static location.
- Use archive format: By default, a compressed .dmg file is created. If this is too slow or if compression is not desired, then an archive can be uncompressed using this field. Additionally, a zip can be created rather than a dmg (e.g. if you’ll be exchanging the archive with Windows users).
- After archiving: this option allows users to configure whether the files placed into the archive are to be kept or deleted once an archive is created. Additionally, files can be saved to a static directory.
The ability to control such features allows a data wrangler with a pretty well defined workflow to proceed much more quickly than would be otherwise possible according to how the person managing the data goes about their business. For example, if I know that every dmg file I get should be extracted, the contents moved to a share and then deleted, that can be the default behavior programmed and therefore I have less clicks of the mouse or steps to complete my process. Apple has, as usual, put good logical thought behind the default settings used. Therefore, be careful when changing settings.