These days, OS X can handle a few of the most common types of archives by itself, out of the box, by making use of the transparent BOMArchiveHelper application. While this approach is ok, and now you can easily create and open things like ZIP archives without any additional tools, it does not support that many kinds of archives, and more often than not you will find you need some third party program. One way you can go about this is to get all the programs that are needed in order to be able to open any kind of archive, but that usually requires quite a few programs and even so, you are not guaranteed a smooth ride. Not to mention the hassle that comes out of having to deal with all those different programs.
There is another way to go about things, which is using a replacement for BOMArchiveHelper that is a bit more competent, such as The Unarchiver.What it does
The Unarchiver is a replacement for BOMArchiveHelper.app, the small application that handles archives by default in OS X. However, unlike the default archive helper, this program has a very impressive list of supported formats that it can work with. These formats range from very common ones, to some of the most obscure.Using it
Getting The Unarchiver set up and running could not be easier. Simply put it anywhere on your hard drive that suits you, open the program,
tell it to handle all of the archive formats that you want and then you're done. Apart from this, there are only two additional options that you can set, but with which you will rarely - if ever - have to deal.
Once you've done this, The Unarchiver is up and ready to go, and you can just double click any archive in the Finder to have it automatically opened. Much the same way, this program does not have an interface or windows other than the preference ones mentioned earlier. It will simply display a progress bar which disappears after the archive has been expanded. There are no menus or anything of the sort, and unless you open the application itself to go into the preferences, The Unarchiver will be 100% transparent and out of your way.
Also, because what it does is simply associate itself with all the archives it can handle, it does not alter your system in any way, and if you ever decide to get rid of it, all you have to do it tell it to cease its association with all those archive types and then delete it. At this point, the Finder will go back to using BOMArchiveHelper.app and behave the way it does out of the box.All about the archives
As a utility whose only purpose is to open archives, it is important for such a program to be able to handle as many types of archives as possible. In this respect, The Unarchiver is an excellent solution, with over 36 known types of archives. These cover all of the most common archive types, and even goes into the most obscure ones, that you may never see in your life. Not only are the most commonly used archive types for the Mac covered, but it also knows how to deal with those archive types widely used on PCs and Linux that not even Stuffit Expander knows. In fact, you won't even need Stuffit Expander again, as this program can even handle Stuffit files. It has custom icons for all these types and will display them over archives that it can open for you.
In effect, The Unarchiver has such a comprehensive list of supported formats that it is highly unlikely that you will ever need another program again.International all the way
The Internet spans many countries and many languages, and so do file archives.
Some programs may have issues with file names in foreign character sets that were created in non-English versions of other operating systems; however, this application has no such issues and can handle Japanese archives, or other archives in any other language out there.The Good
A very comprehensive list of known archive types, transparent integration into OS X, very easy to set up and use as well as remove.The Bad
Trying to find bad things about this program is hard to do, it knows every possible format I have come into contact with and a few more, it is transparent with no annoying windows or menus, and eats minimal resources. The Truth
This is a great one stop archive management solution. With this up and running you probably won't need another program to open an archive ever again. It's that good.
Here are some screenshots, click to enlarge: