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Compressing files

From: Computer Literacy for the Mac

Video: Compressing files

Regardless of the type of file you're sending to someone, if you're using the Internet to send the file, whether via e-mail or a web-based sharing service, another habit you should get into is to compress your files before sending them off. When it comes to the web, file size still matters a lot. It's a major determining factor in how long it takes to send and receive a file, or whether you can send the file at all. Compressing a file does just what it sounds like. It makes the file smaller. Fortunately, Mac OS X has the ability to compress the files in the most popular compression format, the zip format. Let's see how it works. I have here in this window a folder with several files in it.

Compressing files

Regardless of the type of file you're sending to someone, if you're using the Internet to send the file, whether via e-mail or a web-based sharing service, another habit you should get into is to compress your files before sending them off. When it comes to the web, file size still matters a lot. It's a major determining factor in how long it takes to send and receive a file, or whether you can send the file at all. Compressing a file does just what it sounds like. It makes the file smaller. Fortunately, Mac OS X has the ability to compress the files in the most popular compression format, the zip format. Let's see how it works. I have here in this window a folder with several files in it.

Now I could easily open a new e-mail message and drag all these files into the message as separate documents, but you're going to find that compressing multiple files into a single attachment generally results in the files getting to their destination without corruption or errors much more frequently than sending everything uncompressed as individual attachments. But this isn't to say that you shouldn't compress single files. Even if I were only sending a single word processing document, I would probably still compress it, especially if it's a large document. Word processors are notorious for not being very efficient with the amount of space their files take up.

So to zip up these files, I simply select them all. And in this case, I'll just draw a rectangle around them all. Now, I'll choose File > Compress 8 Items. Just like that, this file called Archive has been created. I am just going to drag that to my desktop. Let's close that window for now. So when you compress your files, you're not doing anything to the original files. Those eight items are still sitting uncompressed on my computer. I just have a copy of them compressed sitting on my Desktop, currently named Archive.zip.

At this point, I generally like to rename the files, and do something a little less generic. So I'll just click in the file name. I'm going to call this employee documents. Now I have this single file to attach to an e-mail that's a little smaller in size than the original collection of documents. Now, how does compression work? To explain it in very basic terms, compression programs examine the contents of a file and try to locate the redundant information, which you can then use a sort of shorthand to compress. For example, let me open up TextEdit.

Let's say I have a file that contains the following characters. Now a compression program might look at this, and say, okay, there are four A's in a row. So it would write 4A. There are four Is in a row. So I'll type 4I. There are one, two, three, four, five, six Es; 6E. So instead of writing all of these characters, it would write 4A4I6E, which is much shorter than spelling the whole thing out. Now when it comes times for the recipient of this file to decompress it, their compression program will look at this shorthand, and then expand it out into the full version.

Now again, this is a highly simplified explanation of how compression works, but I think it's a fair representation. So let's talk about what happens when you receive a compressed file. Well, again, the Mac requires no additional software to expand or unpack a zipped file. So let's say I just receive this file called employee documents, and I have it copied to my desktop. So to unzip this zip file, I just double-click it. Just like that, the folder of files is unpacked and sitting here on my desktop. I can open it up and see all the individual files.

Now at this point, I could throw away the zip file, or I could just save it in a case I want to keep a compressed version of these files. So it's super easy to zip and unzip files on a Mac. In reality, it's not that difficult to do on Windows either. So if you're sending a zip file to Windows users, they'll be able to unpack your files as well. I highly recommend you always zip any files you intend to send over the Internet. You might not see a significant file size saving for smaller files, but it can make a big difference for larger collections of files.

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This video is part of

Image for Computer Literacy for the Mac
Computer Literacy for the Mac

55 video lessons · 23764 viewers

Garrick Chow
Author

 
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  1. 2m 49s
    1. Welcome
      1m 9s
    2. Using the assessment files
      1m 7s
    3. Using the exercise files
      33s
  2. 9m 51s
    1. What's a computer?
      1m 49s
    2. What's inside a computer?
      2m 46s
    3. Laptop vs. desktop computers
      1m 59s
    4. Special considerations when using a laptop
      3m 17s
  3. 20m 58s
    1. Understanding the operating system
      3m 3s
    2. Understanding files, folders, and directories
      4m 49s
    3. Understanding your home folder (your user folder)
      5m 21s
    4. Using your desktop
      3m 11s
    5. Taking out the trash (recycle bin)
      2m 21s
    6. The right click
      2m 13s
  4. 24m 8s
    1. Understanding applications
      4m 24s
    2. Opening and saving files
      4m 10s
    3. Choosing the right tool
      4m 44s
    4. How to learn any application
      3m 53s
    5. Five things that work in all applications
      6m 57s
  5. 36m 22s
    1. Understanding computer ports
      2m 59s
    2. Setting up a printer
      3m 7s
    3. Printing your documents
      4m 30s
    4. Setting up a scanner
      2m 27s
    5. Scanning a document
      6m 15s
    6. Setting up a projector or second monitor
      5m 56s
    7. Using a projector
      3m 43s
    8. Portable storage devices
      3m 53s
    9. Pairing with Bluetooth devices
      3m 32s
  6. 17m 27s
    1. Understanding networks and internet access
      2m 58s
    2. Connecting to wired network
      2m 36s
    3. Connecting to wireless networks
      4m 4s
    4. Working in a networked environment
      6m 15s
    5. Staying protected from viruses
      1m 34s
  7. 19m 31s
    1. Understanding email servers and clients
      2m 11s
    2. Setting up your email application
      4m 15s
    3. Receiving and reading email
      2m 21s
    4. Composing new email messages
      5m 52s
    5. Reply vs. Reply All
      2m 11s
    6. Dealing with spam
      2m 41s
  8. 8m 24s
    1. Understanding search engines
      1m 24s
    2. Conducting basic searches
      3m 51s
    3. Conducting advanced searches
      3m 9s
  9. 24m 21s
    1. Using word processors
      4m 22s
    2. Formatting text
      7m 7s
    3. Using spreadsheets
      3m 36s
    4. Creating a simple data table
      7m 37s
    5. Formatting a data table
      1m 39s
  10. 18m 53s
    1. Importing images from a digital camera
      4m 46s
    2. Storing and organizing digital images
      5m 11s
    3. Basic image manipulation
      4m 10s
    4. Tagging images
      2m 32s
    5. Sharing images
      2m 14s
  11. 10m 52s
    1. Common obstacles in sharing files
      1m 37s
    2. Creating PDFs for document sharing
      5m 35s
    3. Compressing files
      3m 40s
  12. 1m 3s
    1. What's next?
      1m 3s

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