I'm sure others have noticed this behavior, and I cannot - for the life of me - find a solution to stop it.

If you have a compressed file (such as a .zip or .tar.gz) on your desktop (or any folder that you're displaying as icons (rather than details or list), when you expand the compressed file, the files from within are placed on top of the compressed file (the files/aliases/etc. overlap each-other). How do you get this behavior to stop, and have the expand process place the files either into a folder named after the compressed file or have the files listed in a column on the desktop, rather than overlapping like they were a stack of cards?

Not that it matters, as this has been the way it is since forever, but I'm running macOS Mojave.


It will drop the expanded file about a 'quarter icon' to the lower right unless you have some kind of 'Sort by' set in Finder; then it will move everything to a new position to make room, as appropriate.

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The Archive Utility itself does have settable prefs, but none of them includes what the Finder will do with the positions afterwards...

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Personally, I just have it set to always Trash the archive after expansion, which at least moves them out of each other's way.
Archive Utility is in /System/Library/CoreServices/Applications/
If you launch it from there it will stay open so you can set prefs.

  • That's exactly what happens and it's annoying. I don't understand why it wouldn't just place the expanded files under the archive, like it does on Windows. I don't really want to trash the archive just because I expanded it, for example if I only want to get at one file from it but keep the zip as is, like if there's an app inside but I don't want the app available all the time. – Jesse P. Oct 16 '18 at 15:08
  • I missed the part where you said using a Sort By causes it to adjust positioning. I have mine set to Snap to Grid (which disables the ability to sort by any other method, such as Kind). With Mojave, the option to use Stacks allows the files to be arranged in the way I'm wanting because of how Stacks behave but if I don't want to use Stacks at all, using just Snap to Grid does not have any effect on icon positioning. – Jesse P. Oct 16 '18 at 22:10

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