If you downloaded a file that ends in .tar.gz or .zip, this indicates that it has been compressed.
This guide will walk you through unzipping a zipped file in Ubuntu 18.04 or Ubuntu 20.04.
- Access to a terminal window/command line (Ctrl-Alt-T)
- Zip/unzip utility (included by default)
How to Install the Zip and Unzip Utility in Ubuntu
Ubuntu distributions usually include the zip and unzip utilities. If for some reason yours does not, use the following command to install it:
sudo apt-get install zip unzip
The output in our example confirms that the latest version is already installed:
Unzip a File Using the Command Line
This guide assumes that you’ve already downloaded a file that has been zipped, and that you know where it’s located. Let’s assume that we have downloaded a file called test.zip to the /home/user/Documents/ directory.
Start by opening the terminal. By default, you should start in the /home/user/ directory.
To list the contents of the directory you are currently viewing enter:
Ubuntu will color-code different entries.
Directories are colored blue, regular files are colored white (the same as the text you type).
To change to the Documents directory, use the command:
As the folder only contains the test.zip file, the output looks like this:
Note: Observe the capitalized D in Downloads. It is necessary to type the name of the directory exactly as you see it on the screen. Linux treats /Downloads and /downloads as two different directories.
ls again. You’ll get a different listing – the content of the Documents folder.
To unzip the test.zip file, enter the following:
The system will decompress the test.zip file, and place a copy of its contents in the /Documents directory.
Note: Normal copying conventions apply. If the test.zip file contains a file named document.txt, and a file with that name already exists in the target directory, the system will ask if you want to overwrite the existing file.
Other Linux Unzip Commands
unzip commands can be used with additional options to have more control over how they work. Here are just a few common ones.
How to Unzip Multiple ZIP Files
For example the folder /Documents/zipped has several files zipped in it. Use the
cd command to change to that directory:
To unzip all the files in that directory.:
The * sign is a wildcard, which means “any number of any characters.” So, any file that ends in .zip would be found and unzipped by entering this command.
How to Test if a ZIP File is Valid
You can use the
–t option with the
zip command to test the file first. Enter the following:
unzip -t test.zip
This is useful if you think the zipped file has been damaged or corrupted.
The system will tell you if it detects any errors.
How to Exclude Files When Unzipping a ZIP File
Some zip files have several different files included in them. You can extract all of them, or you can exclude some of them.
To exclude a particular file:
unzip test.zip –x a_particular_file.txt
This would prevent the file a_particular_file.txt from being extracted from the zip file.
How to List the Contents of a Zip File
To view a list of the contents of a zip file use the
-l option with the
unzip -l test.zip
The output lists the files within the test.zip folder.
Extract a ZIP File to a Different Directory
To specify that you want to unzip the files to a different destination than the directory you are in, type the command:
unzip test.zip –d /home/user/destination
–d switch tells the system to put the unzipped files somewhere else. You can substitute the path to a location of your choice for /home/user/destination.
This article has explained how to unzip and access the content of zip files in Ubuntu Linux.