Extraction

How to quickly extract .tar.gz files on Windows 10

If you come across a .tar.gz, .tgz, or .gz file, you can use these steps to use the tar command-line tool to extract its content on Windows 10.

Extracting .tar.gz on Windows 10

A file using .tar.gz format is a file created using the Unix-based archival application tar and then compressed using the gzip compression. These files are often referred to as “tarballs.” While you can find them with a double extension (.tar.gz), the extension can also be shortened to .tgz or .gz.

Typically, tar files are commonly used by Ubuntu (other Linux distros) and macOS users for data archival and backups. However, Windows 10 users may also come across these files, which is a reason to have a way to extract its contents.

While you can use third-party apps (such as 7-Zip and PeaZip), these apps do not always work as expected with tarballs created on another platform, and they are slow to uncompress a large number of files. However, Windows 10 now includes native support for tar files, and you can use Command Prompt to extract these files. Or you can even use the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) that includes native support for Ubuntu, Fedora, SUSE, and many other distros. Therefore, you can also access many Linux tools, including tar, to quickly extract content from tarballs.

In this guide, you will learn the steps to use native tar commands on Windows 10 using Command Prompt and Ubuntu to extract the content of a .tar.gz file.

Extract .tar.gz, .tgz, .gz tarballs using tar on Windows 10

To extract .tar.gz, .tgz, .gz as well as .zip files using tar on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Start on Windows 10.

  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.

  3. Type the following command to use tar to extract the files and press Enter:

    tar -xvzf C:\PATH\TO\FILE\FILE-NAME.tar.gz -C C:\PATH\TO\FOLDER\EXTRACTION
    Native tar support on Windows 10
    Native tar support on Windows 10
    Quick tip: In the command, make sure to update the syntax to include the source and destination paths. Also, because you are using tar on Windows 10, you do not need to specify the path as if you were running Linux. You can use the path format used by Windows.

Once you complete the steps, you will have all the files and folders extracted to the destination path you specified after a few moments.

It is assumed that you are extracting a tarball created on another system. We are skipping some arguments usually necessary to preserve permissions, which on Windows 10 are not necessary to access the files. 

Extract .tar.gz, .tgz, .gz tarballs using tar on Linux on Windows 10

On Windows 10, to use tar on Linux, you need to install the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and a distro like Ubuntu from the Microsoft Store.

To extract a .tar.gz file using Linux on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Ubuntu and click the top result to open the app.

  3. Type the following command to extract the content of the .tar.gz file and press Enter:

    sudo tar -xvzf /mnt/c/PATH/TO/TAR-FILE/Desktop/FILE-NAME.tar.gz -C /mnt/c/PATH/TO/DESTINATION/FOLDER
    Tar command on Windows 10
    Tar command on Windows 10
    Quick tip: In the command, make sure to update the syntax to include the source and destination paths. If it is only a .tar file, you can use the same command described above but omit the z argument.

In the above command, we type sudo to run the application as an administrator, tar to call the application, and then we fed it some arguments, including:

  • x — instructs tar that you want to extract content.
  • v — verbose. This is an optional argument to display the extraction process. Otherwise, you will only see a blinking cursor until the process is complete.
  • z — tells tar to uncompressed the content of a .tar.gz file with gzip.
  • f — instructs tar the name of the file you’re about to extract.

Then you need to specify the path of the tarball file you want to extract. You’ll notice that the path starts with /mnt/c/, instead of c:\And this is because we’re actually working in the Linux world.

-C — (hyphen and capital C) is used to tell tar to change folders. When you’re executing a command, you start in the source folder, and then you need to specify the destination folder, which is the path we specified to complete the command. You can extract the files to any folder you want, but remember to start the path with /mnt/ followed by the Windows path.

You must pay attention to uppercase and lowercase while typing a Linux command as Desktop is not the same as desktop.

In this guide, we are looking at the basic steps to perform a specific task. If you are not a Linux user, there is a lot more to learn about tar. You can learn more about this tool in the Ubuntu console by typing tar --help.