I have a huge .zip which extracted takes up to 100 GB, and storing that amount of data on my MBP's SSD is not an option.

Is there a way to extract a zip file directly to an external hard drive, without filling up the MBP's SSD?

I tried copying the .zip to the external drive I have and extracting it from there, but it gets unzipped in the Downloads folder.

Does anybody know how to achieve this?

Thank you for your time.

  • Try keka at kekaosx.com or the App Store (not free there, though). Jul 23, 2015 at 18:18
  • 1
    Side note: If someone wants to directly extract an .xip file provided by Apple, Archive Utility will consume spaces in main hard drive by default. To deal with the problem, you can use this command: xar -xf xcode.xip -C /path/to/extract
    – Raptor
    Dec 3, 2021 at 2:16

4 Answers 4


Terminal (Hackers way)

Open the Terminal.app (Hidden in Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal) and Navigate with cd to your Folder where the zip file is stored.


cd ~/Desktop/

And extract the ZIP file with the OSX command line tool unzip

unzip /path/to/the/archive.zip -d /Volumes/USB_Drive/

the -d switch let you set the extraction Archive - the second path is your external HDD - you may have to change the name USB_Drive (Tipp: Type /Volumes/ and the hit the Tab-Key twice to see all Volumes.



I know the Software Kea.app where you can specify in the Setting a custom folder for the extracted folders.


Also StuffitExpander will let you choose for every extraction the location in a Finder Window

I hope it helps - and happy extracting 😊

  • I did this and now I am hacker! Become worried of FBI because external HDD is across state lines. What do? May 6, 2022 at 17:55
  • This stille extracts to the SSD as an intermediate step
    – jzadra
    Sep 7, 2022 at 23:44
  • @jzadra which solution are you referring to?
    – bMalum
    Sep 13, 2022 at 7:20
  • the terminal unzip
    – jzadra
    Sep 13, 2022 at 22:25

Open Terminal.app

cd to the zip file:

cd /Path/to/directory_containing_zip/

then enter

unzip filename.zip -d /Path/to/folder/on/external/drive

With -d you may determine an optional directory to which to extract files.


If you open Terminal, you can use the unzip command.

unzip /path/to/the/archive.zip -d /Volumes/target_location/

(To type these paths, you can just drag the file/folder into the Terminal window.)


If you are comfortable with the command line (via Terminal ), cd to the directory you are interested in

cd /Volumes/your-external-drive

If it is from an internet source, use curl or wget to pull done the file

wget http://my-data/data.zip

this will bypass the default action (like unzipping upon download)

and unzip the file

unzip data.zip

Each command has extra options which man which help with. For example

man wget

which will describe all the details

  • 1
    Actually not the Answer for this Question ... the Question is only about extracting and not downloading and bypass the auto extraction.
    – bMalum
    Jul 23, 2015 at 18:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .