OK! So you’ve downloaded a file from the internet and it ends in tar.gz.  Windows doesn’t seem to be able to open it.  What is a tar.gz file? How do you even open this file?

What is a tar.gz File?

A tar file is a collection of files archived into one single file. The name is derived from (t)ape (ar)chive, from the days of storing and backing up files on to tape for later recovery.  Long before today’s large hard disks were a thing. Many Unix and Linux administrators to this day refer to tar files as tarballs.

After a set of files are wrapped up into a tar file, it is very common for system administers to compress the tarball to save disk space. This compression results in the additional extension .gz being added to the tar file.

RELATED: Tour of my Home Network (and more!)

How to I open a tar.gz File?

This depends heavily on your operating system. Let’s break it down.


Unfortunately, even with the latest versions of Windows 10, you’ll still need to download an archival program to open a tar.gz file. My tool of choice is 7-Zip. It’s simple and get the job down without a lot of complication. Many users love WinRar, and while it works, it takes me back to 1995 every time I open it. It’s a dated application for sure.

Linux and MacOS

The simplest way to open a that tar.gz file, or tarball, on Linux or Mac OS is to use the command line “tar” command “tar – xvf yourfilehere.tar.gz”.

tar -xzf mytarfile.tar.gz

However, it gets even better on MacOS in the GUI.  Just double click the tar.gz file and it will open right up!


About The Author

Mike Murray
Founder, and creator of The Geek Pub

Mike is the founder of The Geek Pub. A jack of all trades who simply enjoys the challenge creating things, whether from wood, metal, or lines of code in a computer. Mike has created all kinds of projects that you can follow and build yourself, from a retro arcade cabinet to plantation shutters for your home. As an accomplished IT Executive with 25+ years experience, Mike believes that in today's world of ever changing intense competition, IT must be strategically aligned to the business like never before.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply