Do you want to combine a bunch of files and directories into a single file? The tar command in Linux is what you're looking for!

The tar command is used to compress a group of files into an archive. The command is also used to extract, maintain, or modify tar archives.

Tar archives combine multiple files and/or directories together into a single file. Tar archives are not necessarily compressed but they can be. Permissions are preserved and it supports many compression formats.

Learn how to use tar in this quick article.


tar [options] [archive-file] [file or directory to be archived]

-c : Creates archive
-x : Extracts the archive
-f : creates archive with given filename
-t : displays or lists files in archived file
-u : archives and adds to an existing archive file
-v : Displays verbose information
-A : Concatenates the archive files
-z : compresses the tar file using gzip
-j : compresses the tar file using bzip2
-W : Verifies an archive file
-r : updates or adds file or directory in already existing .tar file

Usage Examples

Extract an archive:
tar xfv archive.tar
(Options: x = extract, f = file, v = verbose)

Create an archive with files or folder:
tar cfv archive.tar file1 file2 file3
(Options: c = create)

Create compressed archives:
tar cfzv archive.tar file1 file2 file3
(Options: z = compress with gzip)

Show all files of an archive:
tar tvf archive.tar

Create an uncompressed archive of all .txt files in current directory:
tar cfv archive.tar *.txt

Extract files from gzip tar Archive archive.tar.gz:
tar xvzf archive.tar.gz

Create a compressed tar archive file using bzip2:
tar cvfj archive.tar.tbz example.cpp
(Options: j = compress with bzip2, smaller file size but takes longer than -z)

Update existing tar file by adding todo.txt file to archive:
tar rvf archive.tar todo.txt
(Options: r = add file)

List contents of tar file:
tar tf file.tar
(Options: t = display, f = file)

Create a compressed archive of current directory but exclude certain directories:
tar --exclude='./folder' --exclude='./upload/folder2' cfzv archive.tar .("folder" and "folder2" are excluded)