Manual Reference Pages  - TAR (1)


tar - The GNU version of the tar archiving utility


Function Letters
Other Options
See Also


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 separate 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:
  specify drive and density
-a -, --auto-compress
  use archive suffix to determine the compression program
--add-file-\= FILE
  add given FILE to the archive (useful if its name starts with a dash)
  patterns match file name start
  patterns match after any ‘/’ (default for exclusion)
  preserve access times on dumped files, either by restoring the times
  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)
--checkpoint-action-\= ACTION
  execute ACTION on each checkpoint
  delay setting modification times and permissions of extracted
  cancel the effect of --delay-directory-restore option
--exclude-\= PATTERN
  exclude files, given as a PATTERN
  exclude backup and lock files
  exclude contents of directories containing CACHEDIR.TAG,
  exclude directories containing CACHEDIR.TAG
  exclude everything under directories containing CACHEDIR.TAG
--exclude-tag-\= FILE
  exclude contents of directories containing FILE, except
--exclude-tag-all-\= FILE
  exclude directories containing FILE
--exclude-tag-under-\= FILE
  exclude everything under directories containing FILE
  exclude version control system directories
-f -, --file ARCHIVE
  use archive file or device ARCHIVE
-F -, --info-script -, --new-volume-script NAME
  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
--group-\= NAME
  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
  POSIX 1003.1-2001 (pax) format
  same as pax
  POSIX 1003.1-1988 (ustar) format
  old V7 tar format
  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
  case sensitive matching (default)
  ignore exit codes of children
  treat non-zero exit codes of children as error
  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
-K -, --starting-file MEMBER-NAME
  begin at member MEMBER-NAME in the archive
  don’t replace existing files that are newer than their archive copies
-l -, --check-links
  print a message if not all links are dumped
-L -, --tape-length NUMBER
  change tape after writing NUMBER x 1024 bytes
--level-\= NUMBER
  dump level for created listed-incremental archive



-m -, --touch
  don’t extract file modified time
-M -, --multi-volume
  create/list/extract multi-volume archive
--mode-\= CHANGES
  force (symbolic) mode CHANGES for added files
--mtime-\= DATE-OR-FILE
  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
--newer-mtime-\= DATE
  compare date and time when data changed only
--null -T reads null-terminated names, disable -C
--no-null 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;
--old-archive -, --portability
  same as --format=v7
  stay in local file system when creating archive
  overwrite existing files when extracting
  overwrite metadata of existing directories when extracting (default)
  preserve metadata of existing directories
--owner-\= NAME
  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
--pax-option-\= keyword[[:]=value][,keyword[[:]=value]]...
  control pax keywords
--posix same as --format=posix
  same as both -p and -s
--quote-chars-\= STRING
  additionally quote characters from STRING
--no-quote-chars-\= STRING
  disable quoting for characters from STRING
--quoting-style-\= STYLE
  set name quoting style; see below for valid STYLE values
-R -, --block-number
  show block number within archive with each message
--record-size-\= NUMBER
  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
--rmt-command-\= COMMAND
  use given rmt COMMAND instead of rmt
--rsh-command-\= COMMAND
  use remote COMMAND instead of rsh
-s -, --preserve-order -, --same-order
  sort names to extract to match archive
-S -, --sparse
  handle sparse files efficiently
  try extracting files with the same ownership as exists in the archive (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)
--no-seek archive is not seekable
  show tar defaults
  when listing or extracting, list each directory that does not match search criteria
--show-transformed-names -, --show-stored-names
  show file or archive names after transformation
--sparse-version-\= MAJOR[.MINOR]
  set version of the sparse format to use (implies --sparse)
--strip-components-\= NUMBER
  strip NUMBER leading components from file names on extraction
--suffix-\= STRING
  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
--to-command-\= COMMAND
  pipe extracted files to another program
  print total bytes after processing the archive;
--transform -, --xform EXPRESSION
  use sed replace EXPRESSION to transform file names
-U -, --unlink-first
  remove each file prior to extracting over it
  unquote filenames read with -T (default)
  do not unquote filenames read with -T
--utc 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
--volno-file-\= FILE
  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-\= KEYWORD
  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
-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 specified. The backup suffix defaults to ‘~’ if neither is specified.
  Options to prepend to those specified on the command line, separated 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 instead.


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 AT&T v7 .


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.

Jan 2, 2013 TAR (1)
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