In this post, we are going to learn how to use the tar command to extract a single or multiple files from a tar archive.
Tar archives are one of the most popular file archiving format. It is used in packaging a large set of files as a single collection for distribution purposes. Files in a tar archive are stored in an uncompressed format along with the archive metadata. However, you can compress files in a tar archive using tools such as gzip, xz, bzip2, lzma, lzip, etc.
In some cases, you may come across an instance where you need to extract a single or a set of files from a large tar archive. Luckily, tar allows us to extract specific files from an archive without extracting everything.
Extract Single File
Suppose we have a tar archive with files as shown:
total 16660 drwxrwxr-x 2 debian debian 4096 Oct 30 2017 . drwxr-xr-x 3 debian debian 4096 Sep 29 17:30 .. -rw-rw-r-- 1 debian debian 1042592 Aug 16 2017 file_example_JPG_1MB.jpg -rw-rw-r-- 1 debian debian 236789 Sep 25 2017 file_example_ODS_5000.ods -rw-rw-r-- 1 debian debian 1042157 Aug 11 2017 file-example_PDF_1MB.pdf -rw-rw-r-- 1 debian debian 2507971 Aug 16 2017 file_example_PNG_2500kB.jpg -rw-rw-r-- 1 debian debian 1028608 Aug 10 2017 file_example_PPT_1MB.ppt -rw-rw-r-- 1 debian debian 10151438 Oct 24 2017 file_example_TIFF_10MB.tiff -rw-rw-r-- 1 debian debian 1027072 Aug 2 2017 file-sample_1MB.doc
To extract the
file-example_PDF.1M.pdf, we can run the command:
tar --extract --file=sample.tar file-example_PDF_1MB.pdf
This command will extract the specified file name and save it in the current working directory.
If a file is nested inside a set of folders, you can specify the file path as shown in the command syntax below:
tar --extract --file=<file.tar> /path/to/file
You can also use the short version of the command by replacing the
--file parameters with the
tar -xf file.tar /path/to/file
Extract File with a Specific Extension
To extract files ending with a specific extension, we can use a wildcard pattern as shown:
tar -xvf <file.tar> --wildcards '*.ext'
*.ext is the file extension you wish to extract. Example to extract pdf files, run the command:
tar -fvx <file.tar> --wildcards '*.pdf'
You can also use a pattern to etract files matching a specific pattern.
$ tar -xvf file.tar --wildcards --no-anchored 'log*'
The command above extracts files starting with log-*.
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