StuffIt Knowledge Base

Look inside & edit archives without expanding

Archive Manager allows you to browse the contents of StuffIt, Zip, Tar, and RAR archives, including encoded archives, and compressed Tar archives (tarballs). And it allows you to modify the contents of Zip and StuffIt archives. By default, when you double-click on one of the supported archive types in the Finder, Archive Manager will open a browse window and display the contents of that archive. You can also open an archive to browse its contents by dragging and dropping onto the Archive Manager icon on your Dock.

You can even edit StuffIt and Zip archives WITHOUT expanding, as well as:

  • Quickly browse archive contents
  • Add files to an existing archive
  • Extract single files from an archive
  • Rename items in an archive
  • Delete items from an archive

When you browse the contents of an archive in Archive Manager the folder structure of the archive is represented hierarchically. By default, the window will contain all the items located in root (or top level) folder of the archive. To view the contents of a top level folder, simply click the disclosure triangle next to its name. The contents of the folder will be displayed underneath the folder icon, indented slightly to the right.

In addition to browsing the contents of archives, the Archive Manager application allows you to extract individual files or folders, or a selection of files and folders, from the archive without having to expand the archive in its entirety. Use the Toolbar to select and expand a single file, or the Menu actions, or simply right-click on the file and choose to expand it, or even drag and drop it to the Finder - all four methods are used throughout Archive Manager. Pick whichever is most convenient for you.

Add Comments to your StuffIt Archives

You can use comments to note information about the contents of the archive, or to give directions to a recipient of the archive. When expanded, the comments will be saved as a separate text file. Just click the "Comment" button in the lower left corner of the archive window.

StuffIt Deluxe offer you the best-in-class encryption with the SITX archive format. Whether you're sending a sensitive file to someone or you're just hoping to protect files on your hard drive from prying eyes, creating an encrypted archive is the right solution. StuffIt X offers best-in-class protection and encrypts the entire archive to provide an extra layer of protection. Encryption is only available when you are creating a StuffIt or Zip archive.

StuffIt X archives can be created with encryption. There are four compression methods supported:

  • 1=RC4 - Supports up to 512bit key lengths.
  • 2=DES - Supports to 64bit key lengths
  • 3=BlowFish - Supports up to 448bit key lengths
  • 4=AES - Supports up to 256bit key lengths

StuffIt X offers four different encryption methods, but defaults to the stronger 512-bit RC4 encryption. Also, the encryption in StuffIt X encrypts the entire archive. A password is required to view or expand the contents of the archive.

Support for expanding encrypted Zip archives is limited. While the StuffIt utilities can expand encrypted Zips, many tools including the Zip utilities built into Windows and OS X cannot.

Tip: Any encryption method you use to protect your files is only as strong as your passphrase. When you see encryption methods rated by strength (40bit, 128bit, 512bit, etc) the number used indicates how many "bits" your passphrase can contain. Stronger encryption methods simply allow you to use longer passphrases. For the most secure passphrases, avoid using common names, or words that can be found in a standard dictionary.

If you're trying to fit files onto a CD, or a USB Flash drive, then size may be the most important factor. If you're just grouping a bunch of related files together, speed may be the thing. When posting files to a web or ftp site for public download, then portability is king. StuffIt lets you create archives in three formats and customize your compression settings.

  • Destinations Allows you to change the Archive Settings, Destination, Encoding, and more to create an individual "Profile" target that you can drop your files and folders on. Create as many unique Profiles as you like and save them as a Desktop Droplet in Destinations.
  • Tar is a format that is common on UNIX and Linux systems Since OS X is based on UNIX, there is some support built into the OS for expanding these files. Tar archives are not compressed by default and need some post-compression applied (such as Gzip, Bzip2, or UNIX Compress). If you are sending files to a UNIX or Linux user, Tar is a reasonable choice. The compression offered by Gzip, and BZip2 are adequate for most purposes.
  • Zip is a ubiquitous format, but has limitations. Most computer platforms including Mac OS X have some form of Zip expansion available. The compression offered by the Zip format is similar to that of the Gzip format and is satisfactory for most purposes.
StuffIt X archives provide superior compression on more file types

StuffIt X includes important features that help you to protect your data: StuffIt X archives can be made with strong encryption, and can also be made with built-in "error-correction" technology that in many cases will allow StuffIt Expander to automatically repair damaged archives when it attempts to expand them.

Anyone can open StuffIt X archives using our free StuffIt Expander software. Just point them to http://www.my.smithmicro.com//stuffit-expander-mac.html to download the StuffIt Expander software they'll need. It's available for Macintosh (both Classic Mac OS and OS X), and Windows. And best of all, it's free!

StuffIt Deluxe is your personal backup assistant. Use StuffIt to sift through your files and back up only items that have recently changed. You can even schedule StuffIt backups to occur automatically at the same time every day. StuffIt can back up your important data to an external hard drive, to a remote server via FTP, or even to your favorite cloud-based storage service. StuffIt can even write your backup archive across multiple CD or DVD disks.

StuffIt Scheduler

StuffIt Scheduler is designed to provide a simple, easy to use, personal backup solution. You can use StuffIt Scheduler to schedule automatic file backups, and you can save the backup archives you create to CDs, DVDs, external drives, FTP servers, and even your favorite cloud-based storage service.

Wizard style interface walks you through

When you click the "New Task" button on the tool bar, the StuffIt Scheduler New Task assistant will open. This wizard style interface will walk you step by step through the process of selecting what to backup, where to create the backup archive, and when the backup task should be run.

Choosing a destination

You can choose to backup to your current hard drive, a recordable CD or DVD's, an FTP server, your favorite cloud-based storage service, or an external hard drive or server. As the primary reason for creating backups is to make sure that you have copies of your important documents if something (such as a hard drive crash) happens to your computer, we strongly recommend that you choose to store your backup archives somewhere other than on the hard drive you are backing up.

Schedule your Backup

You can choose to have StuffIt Scheduler automatically run your backup task on at a specific time every day, or you can choose the days of the week on which the backup task will run. Make sure that the destination you specified will be available at that time, and ensure that it has enough free space in which to save your archive.

Using Index Archives

Index Archives can be turned on and off in Destinations, Magic Menu and Archive Manager but is always enabled in Archive Manager's Scheduler feature. Index Archives are fully searchable, and can be opened and browsed using the Archive Manager application. At a fraction of the size of a regular StuffIt X archive, Index Archives can be stored on your computer while the full version of the archive is moved to a CD or DVD to save you space.

Restoring from a Backup Archive

When you create a backup archive with StuffIt Scheduler, you are creating an archive using the new StuffIt X file format. Because the archives you create are StuffIt archives, you will have a great deal of flexibility in choosing how to access the files that have been backed up.

Compress JPG, TIFF, PNG, PowerPoint and More

No more big problems with big files. Photographers, artists, and designers rejoice! StuffIt makes digital asset management for today’s photographers and artists easier than ever. You value your photos and images and so do we. StuffIt's exclusive patented technology compresses any JPEG image up to 30% without any loss of quality! Fit more of your photos on your hard disk, CDs, DVDs and in email.

StuffIt's compressors are specifically targeted for maximum efficiency with, JPEG, TIFFs, MP3s, PDFs, and Microsoft® Office documents, emails and presentations. Regain gigabytes of space. StuffIt Deluxe's improved image compressor now compresses high-quality graphic and audio files, dramatically reducing the size without compromising their quality.

Why the StuffIt format?

There are many software tools available for file compression, but only the StuffIt format provides all of these benefits:

  • Greater compression than zip on standard compression tests which means SMALLER FILES.
  • Compression on JPEG, TIFF and PNG, PowerPoint, and PDF when zip can't.
  • Lossless compression of single or multiple files ensures the integrity of your original files.
  • Variable compression ratios to maximize compression or speed to give you the flexibility to choose the right compression for your project.
  • Unicode and two-byte language support to assure broad international support.
  • FREE Expander "client" for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Solaris with a large installed base on Mac and Windows.
  • Self-extracting archives for either Windows or Macintosh.
Improved Compression

StuffIt Deluxe's improved image compressor now compresses high-quality TIFF or PNG files. StuffIt dramatically reduces the size of your images without compromising their visual quality. The integrity of your images' data is perfectly preserved during the compression and decompression process.

Preserve image integrity

StuffIt is smart enough to know when you're working with visuals and knows the difference between a JPEG and a Word .doc. StuffIt’s advanced compression technology saves space with no loss in information quality. Plus, StuffIt automatically ads thumbnails when compressing JPEGs so you can quickly browse through a collection of images without decompressing an archive.


StuffIt includes a patented method for making files even smaller called Recompression. Like our JPEG compression, introduced in 2005, Recompression make files smaller by 'disassembling' the structure of the data type and compressing it more efficiently using the StuffIt X format's own compressors. When the item is expanded from the StuffIt X archive, the structure for that particular data type is recreated and the original content restored.

Bit-perfect vs. Pixel-perfect

StuffIt's Recompressors will always result in output that is a "pixel-perfect" perfect copy of the original source file. There will never be any quality reduction comparing the output to the source material. In some cases you may find that while the output file is "pixel-perfect" it may not be "bit-perfect", meaning that the output file may be slightly larger or smaller than your source file. The content itself is identical, and any ancillary data is never lost - just the bit encoding may sometimes differ.

StuffIt X includes custom Recompressors for these file formats:
  • JPEG (.jpg, .jpeg) Note: The JPEG compressor has an additional option: Include Thumbnails. When this option is enabled, a small thumbnail of the image is stored in the archive for quick previewing.
  • Bitmap (.bmp)
  • MP3 (.mp3)
  • WAV (.wav)
  • JPEG lossless (.jls)
  • JPEG 2000 (.j2k) Note - recompression is only applied when a j2k file is lossless encoded
  • GIF (.gif)
  • TIFF (.tif, .tiff) Note - Some are recompressed bit-perfectly, depending on how they were originally saved.
  • PSD (.psd) Note - Some are recompressed bit-perfectly, depending on how they were originally saved.
  • PNG (.png)
  • PICT (.pict, .pct)
  • PxM (.pbm, .pgm, .ppm)
  • Zip (.zip, .cbz, .docx, .xlsx, .pptx, .odt, .odg, .ods, .odb)
  • PDF (.pdf)
  • Note - Some are recompressed bit-perfectly, depending on how they were originally saved.
Drag to see more
File Format Extension StuffIt Mac StuffIt Win Expander Mac Expander Win
7zip archives .7z, .cb7 e e e
AppleSingle (Double) encoded files .as e,c e,c e
Arc archives .arc e,c e,c e
Arj archives .arj e e e
Binhex encoded files .hqx e,c e,c e
BTOA encoded files .b2a, .btoa e,c e,c e
Bzip compressed files .bzip, .bz e e e
Bzip2 compressed files .bzip2, .bz2 e,c e,c e
CAB archives .cab e e e
CompactPro .cpt e e e
Unix Compressed Files .z, .Z e e e
Gzip compressed files .gz, .gzip e,c e,c e
Lha archives .lha e,c e,c e
lzma compressed files .lzma e e e
MacBinary encoded files .bin e,c e,c e
MIME/Base64 encoded files .b64, .mme, .mime e e e
PrivateFile compressed files .pf e e e
RAR archives (incl. encrypted) .rar e,b e,b e
StuffIt archives (early) .sit e e e
StuffIt 5 archives (incl. encrypted) .sit e,c,b e,b e
StuffIt X archives (incl. encrypted) .sitx e,c,b e,c,b e e
StuffIt X Segmented archives part01.sitx, part02.sitx, etc. e,c e,c e
StuffIt Segmented files (sit5 and older) .sit1, .sit2, etc. e e e
UU encoded files .uu, .uue e,c e,c e
yEnc encoded files .yenc, .ync e e e
Zip archives (incl. encryption and Zip64) .zip e,c,b e,c,b e e
Zip Segment archives .z01, .z02, etc. e e e
Comic Book archives .cbz, .cbr, .cbt, .cb7 e e e
Legend:e=expand c=create b=browse