TAR File Type

- The quick facts

What are TAR files and how to open them

Are you having problems opening a TAR file or just wondering what they contain? We explain what these files are used for and show you software that we know can open or otherwise handle your files.

What is a TAR file?

TAR files have multiple uses, and Tape ARchive is one of them.

Tape ARchive

Files that contain the .tar file extension are TAR archive files that have been created by the TAR file archiving utility. The TAR utility is a Unix-based utility that combines multiple files into a single archive file.

The TAR file format makes the storage and distribution of a large volume of files more convenient and manageable. Instead of adding 20 different file attachments to an email, you can combine all 20 files into a single TAR archive and attach that single archive attachment to the email message.

TAR files store the files in their original form. To reduce the size of a TAR file, they are often compressed using the "compress" or "gzip" utilities.

How to open TAR files

We have identified 6 TAR openers that are compatible with this specific type of TAR file.

Programs that open Tape ARchive files

Stuffit ExpanderStuffit ExpanderVerified

Last updated: March 17, 2022

All known file formats using extension .TAR

While Tape ARchive is a popular type of TAR-file, we know of 2 different uses of the .TAR extension. Different software may use files with the same extension for different types of data.

BagIt package

Another type of TAR file is BagIt, a format designed for storage and digital content transfer.

BagIt TAR files also referred to as "bags", contain files in a folder structure, and include metadata that document the files. For example, there is a required metadata file that must list every file's name and checksum in the BagIt TAR file. In that way, tools extracting the data can check if the archive has been damaged. Apart from files, a "bag" can also contain a list of URLs to be retrieved when the content is extracted.

This format has wide adoption in digital libraries, e.g., the US Library of Congress.

We have not yet verified any programs for Windows that work with this specific file format. If you know one, please use the 'Suggest a program' link below. Thanks!