The tar command is used to create an archive, grouping multiple files in a single file.

Its name comes from the past and means tape archive. Back when archives were stored on tapes.

This command creates an archive named archive.tar with the content of file1 and file2:

tar -cf archive.tar file1 file2

The c option stands for create. The f option is used to write to file the archive.

To extract files from an archive in the current folder, use:

tar -xf archive.tar

the x option stands for extract

and to extract them to a specific directory, use:

tar -xf archive.tar -C directory

You can also just list the files contained in an archive:

tar is often used to create a compressed archive, gzipping the archive.

This is done using the z option:

tar -czf archive.tar.gz file1 file2

This is just like creating a tar archive, and then running gzip on it.

To unarchive a gzipped archive, you can use gunzip, or gzip -d, and then unarchive it, but tar -xf will recognize it’s a gzipped archive, and do it for you:

tar -xf archive.tar.gz

The tar command works on Linux, macOS, WSL, and anywhere you have a UNIX environment