I'd like to use Archive Utility (the built-in OSX archive tool) to decompress some .cbz and .cbr files. Unfortunately, Archive Utility doesn't seem to recognize .cbz or .cbr as a zipped file, so if I try to "Open With" Archive Utility, it re-zips the file; if I try to "Expand Archive" from Archive Utility itself, it doesn't recognize the extension and won't allow me to select the greyed-out file.

When I rename a .cbz to .zip file, Archive Utility works fine.

With .cbr files, however, after I rename the extension to .zip, Archive Utility will rezip as a .zip.zip file (or .zip.cbgz file, depending on my settings in Archive Utility). If I open that .zip.zip file in Archive Utility, it will extract it back to a regular .zip file, but it remains an unopenable archive.

Any ideas on how I can force an unzip?

Due to administrator settings (I'm on a work computer), I must use Archive Utility and can't easily have any other unzip or archive software installed.

Edit: I've also tried it from the terminal using the "open" command with the same (.zip.zip) results.

  • 1
    A CBZ file uses zip for compression, a CBR file uses RAR so the built in Archive utility will not work. If you can get permission to install an app I would recommend "The Unarchiver". Jan 9, 2014 at 16:05
  • At the very least, now I know what CBZ and CBR stand for. Thanks! Jan 9, 2014 at 16:24

4 Answers 4


The Apple's Archive Utility seems incapable to unpack some archives including some legitimate .zip files.

I looked at several GUI alternatives to set as default instead of the Archive Utility and settled on The Unarchiver which seems to be a seamless replacement.

If you have homebrew installed then it is:

homebrew cask install the-unarchiver

Open the app and set the default file types it should handle. You can also check to option to open the extracted archive in a new Finder window.

Also some file managers like Midnight Commander (brew install mc) or Double Commander (brew cask install double-commander) will handle the archive correctly.


You might either have damaged files or most likely you need to try a different utility to unpack the archives. Example: http://jomic.sourceforge.net

Archive Utility is great for zip, tar, 7z and a few others but not everything... CBZ is a subset of zip meaning it uses the same algorithm but the output file is not what archive utility expects (a Comic Book Archive).


I could see a two step process for this.

  1. Test the cbr file in terminal. unzip file.cbr
  2. Make an Automator task for unzipping the files that don't work with a rename and renaming the files that can then be passed to Archive Utility

You might also be able to flatten this to just using terminal - anything you can script can easily be turned into an Application with Automator so you could just use it to handle dropping files onto the "script" and have all the logic be in the shell script. On the other hand, Automator can rename files and then open them in another application besides the default one.

My hunch is that the cbr file isn't really a valid zip file and if it were, Archive Utility should have unzipped it instead of zipping it. However, I've seen lots of cases where Archive Utility gets confused with zip files (iWork for example) and thinks it's too smart to just try to decompress a file and relies on file metadata hints more than a command-line tool does.


You could use YACReader, to read the comic book file. From the description:

YACReader is the best comic reader and comic manager with support for cbr cbz zip rar comic files. It is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X.

At the time of writing, the current version is 8.5.0

Once opened in YACReader, you can save the images within the .cbr file, as JPEGs.

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