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If you have ever received a tar file as an email attachment or downloaded one from the internet, you may have wondered what it is and how to open it. A tar file is a compressed archive of files that have been created with the tar utility.

In this article, we will show you how to view the contents of a tar file, and extract the files that are inside.

What is Tar?

Tar is a Unix-based utility used for storing, creating, and extracting files that are archived into a single file. Tar gets its name from the word “tape archive”, as it was originally designed to write data to magnetic tape drives.

The tar file format is popular because it can be used on any type of computer, and it is cross-platform.

How to View the Contents of a Tar File?

There are several ways to view the contents of a tar file. The most common way is to use the “tar” command-line utility.

To view the contents of a tar file, open a terminal and type:

tar -tvf filename.tar
  • -t is to list the contents of the archive file
  • -v is the verbose mode which shows a detailed output
  • -f is to specify a filename for the archive

This will list the files that are contained in the tar file and show you the size of each one.

Another way to view the contents of a tar file is to use a graphical user interface (GUI) tool like File Roller.

How to Extract Files from a Tar File?

To extract files from a tar file, open a terminal and type:

tar -xvf filename.tar
  • -x is used to extract files from the tar file
  • -v is the verbose mode which shows a detailed output
  • -f is to specify a filename for the archive

This will extract all of the files that are contained in the tar file, and place them in the current directory.

If you want to extract specific files from a tar file, use the “-C” (change directory) option. For example:

tar -xvf filename.tar -C /path/to/destination

This will extract the files from the tar file and place them in the /path/to/destination directory.

You can also use the “–strip-components” option to extract specific files from a tar file. For example:

tar -xvf filename.tar – strip-components=n

This will extract the files from the tar file and place them in the current directory, but it will only extract the first n number of files. This is useful if you want to extract a specific subset of files from a tar file.

How to Create a Tar File?

To create a tar file, open a terminal and type:

tar -cvf filename.tar /path/to/files
  • -c is used to create a new tar file
  • -v is the verbose mode which shows a detailed output
  • -f is to specify a filename for the archive

This will create a tar file called “filename.tar” that contains all of the files and directories in the “/path/to/files”.

You can also use the “-z” (compress) option to compress the tar file using gzip. For example:

tar -cvzf filename.tar.gz /path/to/files

This will create a tar file called “filename.tar.gz” that contains all of the files and directories in the “/path/to/files” and compress it using gzip.

You can also use the “-j” (compress) option to compress the tar file using bzip. For example:

tar -cvjf filename.tar.bz /path/to/files

This will create a tar file called “filename.tar.bz” that contains all of the files and directories in the “/path/to/files”, and compress it using bzip.

You can also use the “-J” (compress) option to compress the tar file using xz. For example:

tar -cvJf filename.tar.xz /path/to/files

This will create a tar file called “filename.tar.xz” that contains all of the files and directories in the “/path/to/files”, and compress it using xz.

How to Add Files to a Tar File?

To add files to an existing tar file, use the “-r” (append) option.

Open a terminal and type:

tar -rf filename.tar /path/to/files

This will add all of the files and directories in the “/path/to/files” to the tar file called “filename.tar”.

You can also use the “-u” (update) option to update files in a tar file. For example:

tar -uf filename.tar /path/to/files

This will update the files in the “/path/to/files” in the tar file called “filename.tar”.

The “-r”, “-u”, and “-f” options can be combined to append and update files in a tar file in one command. For example:

tar -ruf filename.tar /path/to/additional/files /path/to/updated/files

This will add additional files called “/path/to/additional/files” to the tar file called “filename.tar”, and update files called “/path/to/updated/files” in the tar file.

How to Extract the Content of tar.gz, tar.bz, or tar.xz Files?

To extract the content of tar.gz files, open a terminal and type:

tar -xzvf filename.tar.gz

This will extract the content of the tar.gz file called “filename.tar.gz”.

You can also use the “-j” option to extract the content of tar.bz files. For example:

tar -xjvf filename.tar.bz

This will extract the content of the tar.bz file called “filename.tar.bz”.

You can also use the “-J” option to extract the content of tar.xz files. For example:

tar -xJvf filename.tar.xz

This will extract the content of the tar.xz file called “filename.tar.xz”.

How to View the Content of tar.gz, tar.bz, or tar.xz Files?

To view the content of a tar.gz file, open a terminal and type:

tar -ztvf filename.tar.gz
  • -z is used because the tar file is compressed with gzip
  • -t is to list the contents of the archive file
  • -v is the verbose mode which shows a detailed output
  • -f is to specify a filename for the archive

This will list all of the files in the tar.gz file called “filename.tar.gz”.

You can also use the “-j” (bzip) option to list the files in a tar.gz file using bzip. For example:

tar -jtvf filename.tar.bz

This will list all of the files in the tar.gz file called “filename.tar.bz”.

To view the content of a tar.xz file, open a terminal and type:

tar -Jtvf filename.tar.xz

This will list all of the files in the tar.gz file called “filename.tar.xz”.

Conclusion

Tar files are a convenient way to store multiple files and directories in one file. You can use the “tar” command to create, add, delete, and extract files and directories from tar files. Tar also has options for compressing the contents of tar files using gzip, bzip, or xz.

You can use the “tar” command to extract the content of tar.gz, tar.bz, or tar.xz files.

Thank you for reading!

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