Keka is an incredibly easy-to-use utility app for macOS users. It gives users the option to use many different compression protocols to create file archives. Encryption is also available through Keka. The app is very easy to use and priced competitively with other apps in the same category. The developer is responsive to inquiries and is dedicated to ensuring Keka stays up to date.
- EASE OF USE
Keka is one of the most useful Mac utility apps you can own.
Years before I was a Mac user, I was a child of Windows and Linux. When it comes to software, I’ve always tried to be frugal and find OpenSource alternatives to paid apps. One such application was 7-Zip, a file archiver utility.
It was a wonderful application that always worked and did what it claimed. I used this app quite frequently on both Linux and Windows. So, when I made the switch to Apple products, I was sorely disappointed to find there was no 7-Zip option for the operating system.
I’ve gone years without having a dedicated compression application, but when I started working on a massive project (reorganizing and migrating archived files from one NAS to another), I decided it was time to find one. I started by revising 7-Zip again and that’s when I discovered Keka.
Keka is a full-featured file archive utility. It’s designed to be easy to use and provides an option for macOS users to compress files in many different formats. Files can be compressed and protected with a password if the user chooses that option. In addition to compressing, Keka is also a fantastic extraction tool.
Keka doesn’t even need to be open in order to function. Users can drag files onto the app’s icon in the dock and the files will be zipped up for storage or transfer. File encryption is also a feature that users can take advantage of inside Keka. The app uses AES-256 encryption specs for 7z files and Zip 2.0 legacy encryption specs for Zip files. If the file size is still too large after compressing, users can split a zipped file into pieces.
Compression Formats Supported: 7Z, ZIP, TAR, GZIP, BZIP2, XZ, LZIP, BROTLI, ZSTD, LRZIP, AAR, WIM, DMG and ISO
Extraction Formats Supported: 7Z, ZIP, RAR, TAR, GZIP, BZIP2, XZ, LZIP, BROTLI, ZSTD, LRZIP, DMG, ISO, LZMA, EXE, CAB, WIM, MSI, PAX, JAR, APK, APPX, XPI, IPA, CPGZ, CPIO, XIP, CPT
Pricing & Availability
Keka is currently only available for macOS. It requires macOS 10.10 or later for installation and is available on both the Mac App Store and the developer’s website. There are no differences between the two versions (App Store or Website) and both are sandboxed.
There is a helper application that is available for free from Keka’s website. This helper app makes it possible to set Keka as the default option for file compression. Legacy versions of Keka are also available on the app’s website, which is a nice touch for people who have older machines/technology limitations.
The app is $4.99 when you download it from the App Store. There is no charge to download it from Keka’s website, however, there are several options for providing a tip or donation to the developer. Continual development of the app is funded through sales in the App Store.
Developer & App Technology
Keka’s developer is Jorge Garcia Armero (Jordi). He is from Spain and has been programming since he was 11. He started with Batch and then moved to HTML, +ASP, PHP, Visual Basic, and C++. In 2009, he began coding in Objective-C, which is what Keka is mostly built with. When he writes apps for iOS he uses Swift and C# for Windows applications.
Jordi really enjoys what he does. His GitHub bio says, “Writing scripts is fun,” and he confirmed that really defines his work. He enjoys scripting and coding – no matter what language is being used. Jordi is always trying to improve his work to make it more efficient.
Keka is Jordi’s main project at this time. He is a developer after my own heart because the reason he started working on Keka was that like me, he discovered there were no 7-Zip options for macOS. So, he decided to make his own. This is how Keka was born.
He is looking to build an iOS version of Keka, which will be built with Swift and SwiftUI. Jordi is very conscientious about security matters, which is why absolutely no data is collected from Keka.
The download and installation process of Keka is pretty painless. After it’s been downloaded (from the App Store), you simply open the app from your Application folder. A notification will pop up to let the user know about Keka notifications that may occur with the system. Users can select allow or don’t allow. A single window will appear for the app that gives the user compression options. There is a dropdown menu in the right-hand corner that provides the different types of compression that can be used when creating a file archive.
Once the type of compression is selected, then the user can select the following options:
- the method of compression (slow, normal, fast, or store)
- whether or not to split the archive into parts (to make the archive files smaller)
- whether or not to add a password to the file archive and what that password is
- Filename encryption or solid archive (If you’re compressing in 7z format, you can choose to encrypt the filenames or not with the Encrypt filenames check, which is enabled by default)
- Excluding Mac resource forks (enabled by default; creates archives that look clean in non-Mac systems)
- Delete file(s) after compression
- Archiving files separately (if you drop individual files onto Keka, it will produce individual file archives for each file)
You can, of course, set up the defaults for this action window within preferences. (NOTE: all preference window screenshots are showing the initial default state.) The default preferences are what end up being used if you select Keka as your default archive method and if you drop a file onto Keka while it’s in a closed state. The different categories that are included in preferences are: General, Appearance, Compression, Extraction, File Access, Performance, Password, Finder Extension, and Love (this is for providing tips or donations back to the app developer).
As I mentioned above, I started working on a massive file migration recently – this past week actually. I have a Drobo B810N that I want to retire from service in favor of a Synology 1821+ NAS. The new NAS is set up using Synology’s hybrid raid protocol, which is similar to RAID 6. With that in mind, we have a little over 53TB of usable space on the system.
So, even though space is probably not going to be an issue for a long time, I want to optimize the amount of space the archival files take up and Keka is an ideal utility to help with this task. My goal is to compress files and folders before they are transferred over to the Synology. I want to save space, but I also want to encrypt files with sensitive data.
This process began about two weeks ago and I’ve been working with Keka daily to accomplish this task. Because Keka is so easy to use, things have been going very smoothly. The interface inside the app is very similar to my old pal 7-Zip and it works flawlessly.
Keka has many archiving options to pick from (as shown above). I tested a few of them so that I would find the best option for my use case. I would recommend that anyone who wants to use Keka as their default compression app go through this same process because your needs might be different than mine.
In fact, I asked the developer if he had suggestions on the ‘best settings’ to use and this was his response. “I’m constantly checking so (I) never use the same setting. But for archiving I always use 7Z on slow mode to achieve the best rate. For quick sharing, I use 7Z on fast/normal.”
To test the different methods of compression available to me, I grabbed a folder that was large in file size (7.85 GB) and compressed it using Keka’s actions as well as the Apple standard compression option. I noted the file size after compression as well as the time it took to complete each compression task. I ended up focusing in on 7-Zip, Zip, and ZStandard Archive as the compression types for this particular test. The details of the tests and results are in the table below.
|Compression Type||Compression Method||Compressed File Size||Compression Duration|
|Standard Apple Compression (ZIP archive)(.zip)||Normal||7.84 GB||2 minutes|
|Apple Archive (.aar)||Slow||7.84 GB||4 seconds|
|7-Zip Archive (.7z)||Slow||7.7 GB||3 minutes|
|7-Zip Archive (.7z)||Slowest||7.84 GB||12 minutes|
|Zstandard Archive (.tar.zst)||Slowest||7.77 GB||3 minutes|
Based on these test results, the 7-zip format with the normal method of compression ended up as the winner. Not only did this method save some file space, but it was also the fastest option that actually shrank the files. The Apple Archive compression type was the absolute fastest (at 4 seconds) but it did not reduce the file size any more than standard Zip. That’s a shame because it would have been nice to have more compressed files zipped at the speed that the Apple Archive provided.
According to the developer, the ZIP format provides some file reduction, but 7-Zip and Zstandard offer the highest file reduction options with up to 1/3 or 1/2 of the ZIP’s size in almost the same compression time. In addition to the file reduction benefit, users can also encrypt 7-Zip.
After my testing was complete and I had confirmed the best options with the developer, these are the settings I ended up using in my preferences for file archives moving forward. I would like to note that these settings do cause a considerable load on your system resources as shown in the screenshot below.
- Default format: 7Z
- Default method: Slow, more compression
- Save to location: Next to original file
- Name of new files: Same as original file
- Use parent folder name when compressing multiple files
- Keep source extension: Automatic
- Play a sound after a compression: a Funk
- Exclude Mac resource forks (eg: .DS_Store)
- Always tarball non-archiving formats (like GZ or BZIP2)
I do highly recommend that users install the helper application when using Keka from the Mac App Store. Because it allows you to set Keka as the default app for file extraction and compression, the helper extension provides a bypass to a known issue with how Apple handles encrypted files. At one point, I was trying to open a file that I had enabled a password on. Keka had no trouble opening it, but when I right-clicked on the archive file and try to extract it that way, I kept getting an error.
When I asked the developer about this he said that Apple started supporting the 7Z format, but not the encryption option. If you don’t set your default utility to Keka, then the system defaults to Archive Utility, which does not support extraction on AES256 encrypted files. If Keka is the default utility (by way of the Keka helper extension), then there is no issue. The helper extension is needed due to Apple’s Sandbox rules with apps available in the Mac App Store.
I am a stickler for software that just works and looks great while doing it. I want the apps I use to be functional and have an elegant UI design. Keka definitely checks all the boxes as far as that criteria go. I love the fact that even though there are two different ways to download Keka (website or App Store), users have the exact same experience.
The developer is easy to get a hold of and responds to inquiries very quickly. Based on the dedication of the developer to Keka, I have no doubt that this fantastic app will only get better in the future.