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iShrink 3.0.4 review

Verdict:

Needs Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later

Review Date: 1 Jul 2008

Price when reviewed: (about £7.60)

Reviewed By: Giles Turnball

Our Rating 2 stars out of 5

iShrink aims to make file compression simpler and easier. Unfortunately, with its confusing user interface and odd idiosyncrasies, it only serves to make the process more complicated.

At first glance, iShrink seems simple enough. Drag a folder onto the window and it will be instantly compressed - you can choose from a selection of formats, including .zip, .tar.Z, Bzip (.tBz2) or Gzip (.tGz). Compressed files dragged in from the Finder will, as you'd expect, be uncompressed accordingly. So far, so good.

Things start to get confusing when you explore iShrink's other options. Click on the arrow in the bottom-left corner and a list view is revealed, into which you can drag files to be archived. These will not be archived in one of the common formats, though. Instead, they will be compressed into a .iShr file - a so-called iShrink archive. By default, this opens in iShrink, although it can also be opened and decompressed in StuffIt Expander.

The difference between the two types of compression is that an iShrink archive can be previewed before it gets decompressed. iShrink will display all the files it contains, and they can be opened in their native applications with a double-click - all without any unzipping, unstuffing or uncompressing. However, when the archive is dragged into iShrink, it disappears from its location in the Finder. So although you may be saving yourself the trouble of unzipping it, there's nothing else you can do with it until you save it again. This leads to the most confusing element of all. Once an iShrink archive has been previewed it must be resaved if you want to keep it. You can't close the window, or switch to a different mode of operation, without a warning that your archive could be deleted unless you save it.

At which point, you could be forgiven for being utterly flummoxed - after all, you thought you did save it. All you're doing now is previewing the contents, right? Apparently not.

iShrink does what it claims to, but has the unfortunate side-effect of making a very simple task maddeningly convoluted.

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