tar Man page

TAR(1) BSD General Commands Manual TAR(1)


tar — The GNU version of the tar archiving utility


tar [-] A –catenate –concatenate | c –create | d –diff –compare |
–delete | r –append | t –list | –test-label | u –update | x
–extract –get [options] [pathname …]


Tar stores and extracts files from a tape or disk archive.

The first argument to tar should be a function; either one of the letters
Acdrtux, or one of the long function names. A function letter need not
be prefixed with “-”, and may be combined with other single-letter
options. A long function name must be prefixed with –. Some options
take a parameter; with the single-letter form these must be given as sep‐
arate arguments. With the long form, they may be given by appending
=value to the option.

Main operation mode:

-A, –catenate, –concatenate
append tar files to an archive

-c, –create
create a new archive

-d, –diff, –compare
find differences between archive and file system

delete from the archive (not on mag tapes!)

-r, –append
append files to the end of an archive

-t, –list
list the contents of an archive

test the archive volume label and exit

-u, –update
only append files newer than copy in archive

-x, –extract, –get
extract files from an archive



Operation modifiers:

-[0-7][lmh] specify drive and density

-a, –auto-compress
use archive suffix to determine the compression program

Enable the POSIX ACLs support

Disable the POSIX ACLs support

add given FILE to the archive (useful if its name starts with a

patterns match file name start

patterns match after any ‘/’ (default for exclusion)

preserve access times on dumped files, either by restoring the
times after reading (METHOD=’replace’; default) or by not setting
the times in the first place (METHOD=’system’)

do not use archive suffix to determine the compression program

-b, –blocking-factor BLOCKS
BLOCKS x 512 bytes per record

-B, –read-full-records
reblock as we read (for 4.2BSD pipes)

backup before removal, choose version CONTROL

-C, –directory DIR
change to directory DIR

check device numbers when creating incremental archives (default)

do not check device numbers when creating incremental archives

display progress messages every NUMBERth record (default 10)

execute ACTION on each checkpoint

only set time when the file is more recent than what was given with

delay setting modification times and permissions of extracted
directories until the end of extraction

cancel the effect of –delay-directory-restore option

exclude files, given as a PATTERN

exclude backup and lock files

exclude contents of directories containing CACHEDIR.TAG, except for
the tag file itself

exclude directories containing CACHEDIR.TAG

exclude everything under directories containing CACHEDIR.TAG

read exclude patterns for each directory from FILE, if it exists

read exclude patterns for each directory and its subdirectories
from FILE, if it exists

exclude contents of directories containing FILE, except for FILE

exclude directories containing FILE

exclude everything under directories containing FILE

exclude version control system directories

read exclude patterns from the VCS ignore files

-f, –file ARCHIVE
use archive file or device ARCHIVE

-F, –info-script, –new-volume-script


run script at end of each tape (implies -M)

archive file is local even if it has a colon

print file time to its full resolution

-g, –listed-incremental FILE
handle new GNU-format incremental backup

-G, –incremental
handle old GNU-format incremental backup



force NAME as group for added files

-h, –dereference
follow symlinks; archive and dump the files they point to

-H, –format FORMAT
create archive of the given formatFORMAT is one of the following:

GNU tar 1.13.x format

GNU format as per tar <= 1.12 --format=pax POSIX 1003.1-2001 (pax) format --format=posix same as pax --format=ustar POSIX 1003.1-1988 (ustar) format --format=v7 old V7 tar format --hard-dereference follow hard links; archive and dump the files they refer to -i, --ignore-zeros ignore zeroed blocks in archive (means EOF) -I, --use-compress-program PROG filter through PROG (must accept -d) --ignore-case ignore case --no-ignore-case case sensitive matching (default) --ignore-command-error ignore exit codes of children --no-ignore-command-error treat non-zero exit codes of children as error --ignore-failed-read do not exit with nonzero on unreadable files --index-file=FILE send verbose output to FILE -j, --bzip2 -J, --xz -k, --keep-old-files don't replace existing files when extracting, treat them as errors -K, --starting-file MEMBER-


begin at member MEMBER-NAME when reading the archive

preserve existing symlinks to directories when extracting

don’t replace existing files that are newer than their archive

-l, –check-links
print a message if not all links are dumped

-L, –tape-length NUMBER
change tape after writing NUMBER x 1024 bytes

dump level for created listed-incremental archive




-m, –touch
don’t extract file modified time

-M, –multi-volume
create/list/extract multi-volume archive

force (symbolic) mode CHANGES for added files

set mtime for added files from DATE-OR-FILE

-n, –seek
archive is seekable

-N, –newer, –after-date DATE-OR-FILE
only store files newer than DATE-OR-FILE

compare date and time when data changed only

-T reads null-terminated names, disable -C

disable the effect of the previous –null option

always use numbers for user/group names

-O, –to-stdout
extract files to standard output

process only the NUMBERth occurrence of each file in the archive;
this option is valid only in conjunction with one of the subcom‐
mands –delete, –diff, –extract or –list and when a list of
files is given either on the command line or via the -T option;
NUMBER defaults to 1

–old-archive, –portability
same as –format=v7

stay in local file system when creating archive

create a subdirectory to avoid having loose files extracted

overwrite existing files when extracting

overwrite metadata of existing directories when extracting

preserve metadata of existing directories



force NAME as owner for added files

-p, –preserve-permissions, –same-permissions
extract information about file permissions (default for superuser)

-P, –absolute-names
don’t strip leading ‘/’s from file names

control pax keywords

same as –format=posix

same as both -p and -s

additionally quote characters from STRING

disable quoting for characters from STRING

set name quoting style; see below for valid STYLE values

-R, –block-number
show block number within archive with each message

NUMBER of bytes per record, multiple of 512

recurse into directories (default)

avoid descending automatically in directories

empty hierarchies prior to extracting directory

remove files after adding them to the archive

disable use of some potentially harmful options

use given rmt COMMAND instead of rmt

use remote COMMAND instead of rsh

-s, –preserve-order, –same-order
member arguments are listed in the same order as the files in the

-S, –sparse
handle sparse files efficiently

try extracting files with the same ownership as exists in the ar‐
chive (default for superuser)

extract files as yourself (default for ordinary users)

apply the user’s umask when extracting permissions from the archive
(default for ordinary users)

archive is not seekable

Enable the SELinux context support

Disable the SELinux context support

show tar defaults

when listing or extracting, list each directory that does not match
search criteria

show valid ranges for snapshot-file fields

–show-transformed-names, –show-stored-names
show file or archive names after transformation

don’t replace existing files when extracting, silently skip over

directory sorting order: none (default), name or inodedirectory
sorting order: none (default) or name

–sparse-version=MAJOR[.MINOR] set version of the sparse format to use (implies –sparse)

strip NUMBER leading components from file names on extraction

backup before removal, override usual suffix (‘~’ unless overridden
by environment variable SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX)

-T, –files-from FILE
get names to extract or create from FILE

pipe extracted files to another program

print total bytes after processing the archive; with an argument –
print total bytes when this SIGNAL is delivered; Allowed signals
are: SIGHUP, SIGQUIT, SIGINT, SIGUSR1 and SIGUSR2; the names with‐
out SIG prefix are also accepted

–transform, –xform EXPRESSION
use sed replace EXPRESSION to transform file names

-U, –unlink-first
remove each file prior to extracting over it

unquote input file or member names (default)

do not unquote input file or member names

print file modification times in UTC

-v, –verbose
verbosely list files processed

-V, –label TEXT
create archive with volume name TEXT; at list/extract time, use
TEXT as a globbing pattern for volume name

use/update the volume number in FILE

-w, –interactive, –confirmation
ask for confirmation for every action

-W, –verify
attempt to verify the archive after writing it

warning control

use wildcards (default for exclusion)

wildcards match ‘/’ (default for exclusion)

wildcards do not match ‘/’

verbatim string matching

-X, –exclude-from FILE
exclude patterns listed in FILE

Enable extended attributes support

specify the exclude pattern for xattr keys

specify the include pattern for xattr keys

Disable extended attributes support

-z, –gzip, –gunzip –ungzip

-Z, –compress, –uncompress

The behavior of tar is controlled by the following environment variables,
among others:



Backup prefix to use when extracting, if –suffix is not speci‐
fied. The backup suffix defaults to `~’ if neither is specified.



Options to prepend to those specified on the command line, sepa‐
rated by whitespace. Embedded backslashes may be used to escape
whitespace or backslashes within an option.

TAPE Device or file to use for the archive if –file is not specified.
If this environment variable is unset, use stdin or stdout

Create archive.tar from files foo and bar.
tar -cf archive.tar foo bar
List all files in archive.tar verbosely.
tar -tvf archive.tar
Extract all files from archive.tar.
tar -xf archive.tar


tar(5), symlink(7), rmt(8)

The tar command appeared in Version 7 AT&T UNIX.


The GNU folks, in general, abhor man pages, and create info documents
instead. Unfortunately, the info document describing tar is licensed
under the GFDL with invariant cover texts, which makes it impossible to
include any text from that document in this man page. Most of the text
in this document was automatically extracted from the usage text in the
source. It may not completely describe all features of the program.

Nov 17, 2016