tar is not a compression tool, it simply creates and archive

Creating an archive:

tar -cf archive.tar file.txt

It will create the archive.tar with file.txt inside it. The extension is not mandatory but it is a good to differenciate an archive from other files and directories

Using verbose is a good option specially if dealing with big files since it will show errors or permission problems: -v.

Extracting from an archive.

tar -xvf archive.tar


There are 3 compression types:

  • gzip (-z)
  • bzip2 (-j)
  • compress (-Z)
tar -cvjf archive.tar.bz2 file.txt

The extensions here are also not mandatory but are importante because they indentify the compression used in the archive. To extract, inform the compression used.

tar -xvjf archive.tar.bz2

To add to an archive.tar (not compressed), use the option: -r

tar -rvf archive.tar file2.txt

Listing (not compressed) -t

tar -tf archive.tar

Removing (not compressed) –delete

tar -f archive.tar –delete file.txt

Another important option: -C

tar -C /usr/local/ -xjvf archive.tar.bz2

Will extract the contents from archive.tar.bz2 into /usr/local/