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Overview

When you put or upload a Macintosh file to a server, Fetch needs to know which format to use to store the file on the server. The best format to use depends on whether a file contains special Macintosh information, whether the file is a text or binary file, and whether you want to store the file or files in a compressed archive format.

Fetch's standard upload formats are Automatic, Text, Binary (Raw Data), MacBinary, BinHex, and AppleSingle; there are also four special archive and compression formats: Gzip, StuffIt X Archive, Zip Archive, and Gzipped Tar Archive.

Normally Fetch uses the Automatic upload format, which examines each file and chooses the best format for it. However, if the Automatic upload format picks the wrong format for your files, you may want to choose one of the other formats at least temporarily. See below for more information about each format.

You can choose a different upload format from the Format submenu in the Remote menu. Your new choice will apply only to the active transfer window until you close it. Different transfer windows may have different format settings. To set the initial upload format for new transfer windows, use the Default upload format preference in the Upload Preferences pane. You cannot set the archive and compression formats as the default upload format.

The Put files and folders prompt also has a Format menu. The format you choose in the Put prompt only applies for that one upload, and does not change the setting of any transfer windows.

If you change the upload format frequently, you can add a Format button to the transfer window toolbar.

Deciding on a format

The main considerations when uploading a file are whether the file contains special Macintosh information, and whether it is a text or binary file.

Files on the Macintosh either consist of files that have only a data fork (such as HTML files, JPEG files, and Microsoft Word files), or files that have both data and special information for the Macintosh in a resource fork as well.

Non-Macintosh computers generally only recognize the data fork part of a file, and standard methods for uploading and storing files on other computers only send the data fork. For cross-platform files, such as HTML and JPEG files, this is not a problem, since they are all data.

Care has to be taken when uploading files containing special Macintosh information to make sure those files will work properly when downloaded to another Macintosh. They must be encoded in a format that will preserve the Macintosh information by putting it all in the data fork. When you do this, however, the files will generally not be readable or usable on other computers. The upload formats that preserve Macintosh information are MacBinary, BinHex, AppleSingle, StuffIt X Archive, and Zip Archive.

If a file does not have special Macintosh information, the only decision to make is if it's a text file or a binary file. Text files contain lines of letters, numbers and punctuation; binary files may contain data in any format. Text files should be uploaded using the Text upload format, and plain binary files should be uploaded using the Binary (Raw Data) format.

Instead of making all these decisions yourself, the Fetch Automatic upload format examines each file and chooses the best of the upload formats for it. For more information about how the Automatic format makes its decisions, see the Automatic upload format help topic.

Archive and compression formats

However, if you have a set of files and want to package them up as a single file for other users to download, instead of asking them to download all the files separately, you might want to consider one of the archive formats. When you upload one or more files using an archive format, all the files are combined into a single file. (The Automatic upload format will never combine multiple files into one file.) The archives are also compressed, so you may save space on the server by putting your files in an archive. Archive upload formats supported by Fetch are StuffIt X Archive (a compressed archive format common on the Macintosh), Zip Archive (a compressed archive format used by the Finder's Compress/Create Archive command, and also common on Windows), and Gzipped Tar Archive (a compressed archive format common in Unix). Even if other users are not using Fetch to download files you upload, the StuffIt and Zip formats are standard and most computers have tools to decode them (such as StuffIt Expander).

Fetch also supports uploading files in Gzip format, but Gzip is only a compression format, not an archive format — when you upload multiple files with Gzip, you end up with multiple compressed files.

StuffIt support is built into Fetch, so you do not need to have StuffIt installed on your Macintosh to create or decode files in the archive and compression formats.

Format descriptions

BinHex is a format for representing a Macintosh file in text form. Because BinHex files are simply text, they can be sent through most electronic mail systems and stored on most computers. However, the conversion to text makes the file larger, so it takes longer to transmit a file in BinHex format than if the file was encoded some other way. For more information, see the BinHex help topic.

MacBinary is a common format for representing all the information in a Macintosh file (both data and resource forks) as a binary file. For more information, see the MacBinary help topic.

AppleSingle is a format created by Apple for representing a Macintosh file (both data and resource forks) on other types of computers in a binary file. For more information, see the AppleSingle help topic.

Binary (Raw Data) format uploads the data fork of a Macintosh file without any interpretation or conversion. It is a good choice for binary files that contain no special Macintosh information and that can be understood by different types of computers, such as GIFs, JPEGs, Microsoft Word, and Excel files. For more information, see the Binary (Raw Data) format help topic.

Text format should only be used for files that consist only of letters, numbers, and punctuation, such as HTML files and files created by text editors like BBEdit. Line ending conversion is performed on files uploaded in Text format when uploaded using FTP, but not when using SFTP. If you have a text file whose name ends in an extension usually associated with binary files (such as ending in "bin", "Z", "sit", or "gif"), you'll need to choose the Text upload format to avoid the behavior of Automatic upload format. For more information see, the Text format help topic.

Gzip (or GNU zip) format is an open-source compression format common on Unix systems. Gzip only encodes the data fork of Macintosh files, so you should only use it for files that contain no special Macintosh information. If you have large files that will compress well and your target audience is Unix users, Gzip may be a good choice for them. Fetch's automatic decoding or StuffIt Expander can decompress Gzip files on the Macintosh. For more information, see the Gzip format help topic.

StuffIt X Archive format is a compression and archive format created by Allume Systems (formerly Aladdin Systems) as part of their StuffIt line of products, and is a common method for storing files on the Macintosh. StuffIt X Archive format preserves both data and resource forks of Macintosh files. If you want to combine a set of files together in one archive for downloading by other Macintosh users, StuffIt X Archive is a good choice. StuffIt Expander is also available for free for Windows. For more information, see the StuffIt X Archive format help topic.

Zip Archive format is a compression and archive format that is used by the Finder's Compress (Create Archive) command, and is also widely used on the Windows operating system. Like Compress (Create Archive) in the Finder, Fetch's Zip archives preserve both the data and resource forks of Macintosh files. If you want to combine a set of files together in one archive for downloading by Windows users, Zip Archive is a good choice. Fetch's automatic decoding or StuffIt Expander can decode Zip archives on the Macintosh. For more information, see the Zip Archive format help topic.

Gzipped Tar Archive format is a compression and archive format common on Unix systems. It uses Tar, a Unix archiving utility, to combine files into an archive, and then Gzip to compress the archive to make it smaller. Gzipped Tar archives only encode the data fork of Macintosh files, so you should only use it for files that contain no special Macintosh information. If you want to combine a set of files together in one archive for downloading by Unix users, Gzipped Tar Archive is a good choice. Fetch's automatic decoding or StuffIt Expander can decode Gzipped Tar archives on the Macintosh. For more information, see the Gzipped Tar Archive format help topic.