How to Untar a File


Tar is an alternative format for compressing file archives that is popular among Linux and Unix users. Most versions of Linux come by default with an untar application installed, but Windows users will need to download an application to untar the archive themselves. Free and open source tools exist for this purpose, and one such application, 7 Zip, is listed in the first Resource.


  • Download and save "7-Zip" from the link in the first Resource. This is a free and open-source file extractor. Double-click the downloaded file to install.

  • Double-click the "tar" file that you want to decompress.

  • Click "Extract." Select a destination directory when prompted.


  • Open a Terminal window. In Ubuntu Classic, you can do this by clicking "Applications," "Accessories," "Terminal." Other versions of Linux may put the shortcut in a slightly different location.

  • Type the following into the terminal:

    tar -xf file.tar

    Replace "file.tar" with the name of the tar file you would like to extract.

  • Type the following instead if the file is a gzipped tar:

    tar -xzf file.tar.gz

    You will know a gzipped tar by its ".tar.gz" extension. Replace "file.tar.gz" with the name of the archive you would like to extract.

Tips & Warnings

  • Mac users can untar a file by double-clicking it in the Finder, just as they would unzip a zip file.

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