.TAR File Extension

Tape Archive

Developer AT&T Labs
3.7  |  132 Votes

What is a TAR file?

A TAR file is an archive saved in the Tape Archive format. It contains multiple files that have been packaged together for easier storage and sharing. Notably, unlike .ZIP files and many other types of archives, TAR files are not compressed.

More Information

Screenshot of a .tar file in 7-Zip
TAR file open in 7-Zip

AT&T Bell Laboratories developed the tar archiving utility and TAR archive format in 1979. Originally, tar was used to write data to tape drives, which are data storage devices that read and write data on magnetic tape. Thus, the archives tar created were referred to as Tape Archives.

These days, Linux and other Unix-like users are the primary source of TAR files. For example, Linux users often distribute software packages as TAR files, to make those programs easier to download and install. Many of these users refer to TAR files as tarballs, a nickname that references real-life tar balls' sticky, object-gathering nature.

While TAR files themselves are not compressed, users often compress them using tar or other compression utilities. This reduces a TAR file's file size, making it even easier to store and share. Primarily, users compress TAR files using Gzip compression, turning them into .TGZ or .TAR.GZ files.

How to create a TAR file

In Windows, you can create a TAR file with 7-Zip. To do so:

  1. If you haven't already, install 7-Zip.
  2. From within 7-Zip File Manager, select the files and folders you want to package in your TAR file.
  3. Right-click one of the selected items and select 7-Zip → Add to archive....
  4. In the Add to Archive window, set the Archive format: to tar.
  5. Click OK.

In macOS and Linux, you can use the tar command-line command to create a TAR file. For example, you can enter the following command to create a TAR file:

tar -cf YourArchiveName.tar ~/path/to/your/files-or-folder

If you want to compress the TAR file you create in this process (creating a .TAR.GZ file), instead enter the following command:

tar -czf YourArchiveName.tar.gz ~/path/to/your/files-or-folder

How to open a TAR file

You can open a TAR file, and extract the files it contains, with several common archive utilities, including:

Android users can open TAR files with ZDevs ZArchiver. iOS users can open TAR files with ComcSoft Corporation iZip.

Open and view .TAR files with File Viewer Plus.Free Download

Programs that open TAR files

Verified by FileInfo.com

The FileInfo.com team has independently researched the Tape Archive file format and Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS apps listed on this page. Our goal is 100% accuracy and we only publish information about file types that we have verified.

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