3/1/10
10:46 am

MacMost Now 364: What Are Package Files?

Package files are somewhere between folders and disk images. The most notable one is your iPhoto Library, which is a collection of files protected inside a package file that you can still open and view. Installers are another common type of package file.

Video Transcript
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now, on today's episode, let's find out what package files are. It's been about three years since MacMost started, and recently I've got a lot of emails from people thanking me for the videos, and asking how they can help out. That's a good question, because MacMost really relies on word of mouth; that's how people find out about us. So, if your looking for a way to help out MacMost, you can go to MacMost dot com slash help out, and I list very easy quick ways for you to be able to help the site out. For instance, if you have a blog, you can blog about MacMost, if you use Twitter or Face-book there are ways that you can spread the word there as well. So, please check that page out this week, and see if you can help spread the word. Now, in return, I'm going to do five videos this week instead of the usual three. So we can see if we can help each other out this week. Thanks a lot! Now let's look at package files. So, what is a package file? Well, think of it as something halfway between a folder and a disk image. So a folder is a collection of files and you can open it up and easily
see what's inside. A disk image is a single file on your drive that represents kind of a virtual hard drive. You can mount it and then see all the files inside it just like it was an external drive or flash drive or something, and then you could un-mount it and it becomes a single file again. A package file is kind of something in between - it's like a folder but you can't easily see the files inside it. Now, one package file that you might come across is your iPhoto library in Snow Leopard, so if you go into your user folder in pictures, then you'll see iPhoto library and you click on it, and you'll notice it's not a folder, you can't actually look in it like you could in previous versions of iPhoto. So, how do you see your photos and content in it? If you control click or right click on it, you have the option to show package contents. This will open up the new finder window - it looks just like a normal folder, and it shows you what's inside your iPhoto library - just some normal files, as a matter of fact it looks similar to the iPhoto library folder that you may have seen in earlier versions. And you can see all the different stuff there and you can dig in, look and find your photos - things like that. So why didn't Apple must make the iPhoto library a regular folder? Well, I can think of two reasons;
first reason is, is because it's not a good idea to go into the iPhoto library and try to do things with those images there, because iPhotos managing all those files and it's got all sorts of things - the originals, edited versions, thumbnails, its got all sorts of data and all of that is managed through the iPhoto interface. If you just can go in and easily move those files around, it's going to confuse iPhoto, and you're going to end up with problems. Images you can't find, ••••••things it just doesn't know where they are, that kind of thing.
So, being a package file rather than a folder still give you access to these things if you want them, but it's kind of a good reminder not to mess with them.
A second reason is that files inside of a package file are not searchable. Now, when you search in Spotlight for a photo, you're going to come up with those photos, because you come up with iPhoto items in Spotlight searches, but, if you also search for those files that are inside the package, then you would end up with multiple copies, for instance you may have your original, you may have a thumbnail, you may have a couple of edits that you've done, so you're going to come up with all these results including the iPhoto results. You're not going to know which is the actual photo that you want to get to. So having those kind of set aside and not searchable makes it so that you can easily find the actual photo, the entire iPhoto and get to what you want. Now another common use for a package file is as an installer. So you download some software,
from the internet from a third-party or from Apple, and sometimes it will come as a P K G file - a package file of some sort, and it's basically the same as what you've seen with your iPhone library, you can't actually right click on it and show package contents and see the files in there, but the package file is smart enough to know that if you double click on it, it will run the installer that's part of the package file, take those files out of there and properly install them. In those cases you don't really want to mess with a package file, although occasionally I've found it useful to look inside a package file, perhaps for a document, sometimes there's documentation - PDFs, things like that in there that I can get to and read more about the product before I install it, but this is rare. Usually you just want to go and use a package file
as a standard installer. These installer package files which also are sometimes called bundles are really useful because a lot of times these installers have to have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of little files and you don't actually want to download all of that, add thousands of files to your finder, so it's nice just to have them all bundled up in one little package file for you to install. So if you found this useful, 'til next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig for MacMost Now.