TAR File Opener

WinZip's TAR Opener Functionality

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What is a TAR file extension?

A TAR file is a type of archive file, used to collect and combine several files into one manageable file. This is usually for the purposes of distributing or archiving, and the name comes from “Tape Archive”, a heritage term from when files used to be stored on physical tapes.

As well as the files themselves, a TAR file will typically contain the file structure, permissions, dates and hierarchy which makes it useful for storing and cataloging backup files.

The main difference between TAR files and other archive formats is that they do not compress the files into a smaller space, they simply collate them. So if you are looking for a space-saving format you will need to combine TAR files with a third party compression software such as WinZip to create, for example, GZIP or Bz2 files.

A TAR Bz2 file is a lossless compressed archive file type, a kind of TAR file which is usually used for moving software such as video games and operating systems from one device to another.

What are TAR files used for?

TAR files are often found on UNIX based operating systems. They are commonly used for delivering package files or program installers, although they can also be used with Windows platforms.

UNIX users will be familiar with TAR files, particularly if they frequently download or share files with other users. The usefulness of TAR files comes from the consolidation of multiple complex file structures into one single file that is easy to upload, download, and share - whether it’s high quality media, a software program, or even an entire operating system.

Although the file size will not be affected as the content is not compressed, just handling one file instead of hundreds makes it a very useful shareable file type.

How to Open TAR Files

Opening TAR files in WinZip can be done in moments with the click of just a few buttons. Follow this step by step guide.

Method 1

Open TAR Files - Step 1
1. Find the TAR file you would like to open on your computer and double-click on the file. This will open up WinZip and display the file.
Open TAR Files - Step 2
2. On the panel on the right side of the screen, click "Unzip to:" and choose the location you would like to save your file to, for instance the desktop or an external hard drive.
Open TAR Files - Step 3
3. Click "Unzip" to begin the process. Within a few moments the files within the TAR file will be available to view and use in the location you specified.

Method 2

TAR File Extractor - Step 1
1. Right-click on the TAR file you want to open and hover over "WinZip" to display the secondary menu.
TAR File Extractor - Step 2
2. Click on "Unzip to..." and choose the location you want to save the file to.
TAR File Extractor - Step 3
3. Click on "Unzip" which will open up the contents of the TAR file.

TAR and Linux

As TAR files are most often used with Linux systems, that is where it is most comfortably integrated into the platform. Use the Linux Command Line to control TAR files on Linux systems, which gives you access to a wide range of commands including opening and creating TAR files.

To do this, on your Linux system press Ctrl+Al+T to access the Linux Command Line. Within this you can then highlight basic capabilities such as opening, creating and splitting TAR files. You can choose where to extract TAR files to and view the files within the archived folder.

How to Create TAR Files

While WinZip does not create TAR files, it does create Zip files. Zip files are similar to TAR files and have many of the same benefits and more accessibility.

In order to create a Zip file, please follow these simple steps:

  1. Open WinZip
  2. Find and select the files you wish to ZIP from your PC, network, or cloud services in the files panel.
  3. Click “Add to Zip”.
  4. In the actions panel, click “Save as”.
  5. Choose any local, network or cloud location where you wish to save your new ZIP file.
  6. You may also choose to email it, share it in an instant message or via supported social media platforms.

Converting TAR Files

As TAR files are most often used on Linux and UNIX systems, you might come across a situation in which somebody cannot access or read a TAR file you are sending them. In that case you will need to convert the TAR file into something more accessible such as a RAR or Zip file.

Using third party file conversion software such as WinZip makes converting files easy. As the TAR files are not compressed and you are simply swapping the file type from one archive to another, there should be no risk of damage to the contents of the files themselves.

  1. Unzip your GZ file using WinZip and save them to your computer
  2. Now select the files you wish to ZIP from your PC, network, or cloud services in the files panel in WinZip.
  3. Click “Add to Zip”.
  4. In the actions panel, click “Save as”.
  5. Choose any local, network or cloud location where you wish to save your new ZIP file.
  6. You may also choose to email it, share it in an instant message or via supported social media platforms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are TAR files safe?

There is nothing inherently dangerous about TAR files, but only if you have acquired the file from a legitimate source. As with every file you access on your system, make sure you know exactly what the contents are. Never open an unfamiliar file as you risk downloading malware and other malicious software onto your computer.

What’s the difference between TAR and TAR.GZ

TAR files are archived folders which simply group multiple files together. TAR.Gz on the other hand is a compressed format which reduces the overall size of a group of files. TAR.Gz is a useful file type for when you need to make the files smaller for easier transfer.

Why does Linux use TAR?

TAR is a widely used and read archive file type as it as a reliable archive file for collecting and consolidating multiple files. TAR files can even be read on some Android devices, making it a useful universal tool.

How do I open a TAR file on mobile?

To open a TAR file on mobile, simply download WinZip for mobile and access the contents of the archive file through the WinZip process.

Open TAR files on Windows or Mac

WinZip 28
  • Windows 11
  • Windows 10
  • Internet Explorer 8 or later
WinZip Mac 10
  • Mac OS X 10.8, 10.9, or 10.10
  • Intel 64-bit processor
  • Supports Apple Retina Displays

WinZip opens and extracts TAR Compressed Archive Files—and many more formats

We designed WinZip to open and extract from the widest range of file formats, including all of the following:

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