Twenty years ago, Smith Micro introduced their file compression and archiving software, StuffIt. Earlier this year, they announced the newest updated version, StuffIt Deluxe 2009, with a tie-in sweepstakes and prizes. There are numerous applications available for creating "zipped" archives and compressing files, but StuffIt Deluxe 2009 is one of the most versatile and useful such programs that I've tested. An economical utility with multiple features for people who don't have the wherewithal to upgrade their systems every six months, StuffIt Deluxe 2009 helps users optimize limited disk space and streamline tasks. It includes several clever tools, and is just plain fun to play with.
Like other zipper applications, StuffIt Deluxe 2009 allows the user to easily select and bundle multiple files into single archives with varying degrees of compression, employing the near-universal .zip format. However, StuffIt Deluxe 2009 offers a proprietary format, StuffItX, that allows for a higher level of compression. In StuffItX format, jpeg and other media files may be compressed as much as 50% with no loss of quality. As an expander tool, StuffIt Deluxe 2009 supports multiple platforms and will expand Apple and Unix archives as well as those created under Windows. (For complete technical specifications and a feature-by-feature comparison with WinZip, see the product information page on Smith-Micro's Web site.)
The software installs quickly and easily, creating a program folder for itself and another folder in the user's directory under Local Settings, as well as tagging all archive files on the computer with a StuffIt icon. I should note here that I'm running my review copy of StuffIt Deluxe 2009 on a three-year-old Dell Inspiron with Windows XP Home Edition, and I've experienced no problems of any kind with StuffIt or Windows. I had a trial version of StuffIt prior to installing the review copy.
StuffIt Deluxe 2009's tasks may all be handled manually, but the program offers four "Wizards" to streamline its essential functions. Each Wizard quickly steps you through the necessary procedures, and allows you to set up a task and schedule it to run at a later time.
The Compression Wizard walks you through creating a compressed archive. The next three, however, are far more interesting. The "Compress and Email" Wizard creates an archive and then opens a message in your default e-mail client with the archive as an attachment, ready to send. The "Compress and FTP" Wizard creates an archive and then automatically FTPs the archive to a location you specify. This is a massively useful tool for uploading Web site files, especially if you update a number of files and need to upload them all at once. The "Compress and Burn" Wizard creates an archive and then automatically writes it to a CD or DVD. All of these Wizards prompt the user for options, which may be preset as profiles. StuffIt Deluxe 2009 supports Blu-Ray disc format, and includes its own embedded FTP and CD/DVD burning clients.
StuffIt Deluxe 2009 offers a unique shortcut device it calls Droplets. Users can create a macro to perform a task and assign it to a Droplet. The Droplet is saved in the user's Smith Micro folder under Local Settings (this is why you need to know about that folder), and from there can be moved anywhere convenient, such as the desktop. By clicking the Droplet icon, you can apply the macro as needed without actually launching StuffIt. The Droplet operates as a mini-app all by itself. So, if you frequently bundle files and e-mail them, or burn them to a CD (for example), you can create a Droplet to handle that task, put the icon on the desktop, and click on it whenever you need it.
StuffIt Deluxe 2009 will also create SEAs — Self-Extracting Archives — as .exe files which will expand themselves without the recipient needing a zip application of their own to access the material.
StuffIt Deluxe 2009 has a MSRP of $49.99, with an upgrade price of $19.99 for users who have an earlier version. Users who are running a 64-bit version of Windows XP or Vista should note that StuffIt Deluxe 2009 requires a patch to run under these operating systems, and some users have reported compatibility issues.