How to View the Contents of a ZIP File Without Opening It (macOS)

This step by step guide will show you how you can view the contents of a ZIP file without having to open it, in macOS.

Normally when you select a .zip file and tap the space bar on your keyboard (to bring up “Quick Look”), you’d see something like this:

default Quick Look view of a zip file in macOS

With a small, free App for macOS, instead of just seeing a large icon, you can see what’s inside the zip file – like this:

view zip file contents using Quick Look on a Mac

Just follow the step by step directions below and you’ll be able to quickly view the contents of a ZIP file without having to open it.

  1. Head over to the BetterZip download page and download the current version. The installation is very straight forward – just unzip the file and move the App to your Applications folder. Run it from there.
  2. The first time you open BetterZip you’ll be presented with a ‘Welcome’ screen. Click the Let’s Go! button.
  3. the BetterZip welcome window message

  4. If you’re using macOS 10.15 (“Catalina”) or later, you’ll be prompted to allow BetterZip access to a series of folders – click the OK button on each one.
  5. macOS prompt to allow access to the Documents folder

  6. The main BetterZip window will appear. Select BetterZip from the main menu bar, and then Preferences… from the drop down menu.
  7. the main BetterZip window

  8. Select the Quick Look tab at the top of the Preferences. Choose the attributes that you want to be able to see when you use Quick Look to view a .ZIP from the Show Columns section. Finally, exit out of the Preferences when you’ve made your selections.
  9. the BetterZip Quick Look Preferences

  10. Open a Finder window and locate a .ZIP file somewhere on your Mac. Select that .ZIP file by clicking it once, and then invoke Quick Look by tapping the space bar on your keyboard. Ta-da! From now on, this is the view that you’ll get using Quick Look on a .ZIP file.
  11. view zip file contents using Quick Look on a Mac

  12. If you want BetterZip to behave like the built-in Archive Utility (ie. when you double-click a .ZIP file it extracts the contents of the file and then closes itself), open the Preferences again and on the General tab, place a check in the box labelled Opening an archive from the Finder immediately extracts it
  13. the BetterZip General Preferences


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