Z File Type

- The quick facts

What are Z files and how to open them

Are you having problems opening a Z 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 Z file?

A .Z file is an UNIX Compressed data file. The most common type of file that contains the .z file extension is compressed Unix files. These files are used to create smaller files on computers that run on the Unix/Linux operating systems.

When a user has a large volume of files, they can make the files more manageable by combining them into a single file archive. This makes the organization and distribution of the files easier.

The .z files, however, can only contain one file. Therefore users will archive the files using e.g., TAR first and then compress the .tar archive with the "compress" command, resulting in a .taz or .tar.z file.

The .gz file format (another compression format) is becoming increasingly more popular than the .z format, however, and has been replacing it over time.

How to open Z files

We have identified 3 Z openers for Windows that are compatible with this specific type of Z file.

Programs that open UNIX Compressed data files

BitZipperBitZipperVerified
WinZipWinZipVerified
7-Zip7-ZipVerified
We have not yet verified any programs for Mac that work with this specific file format. If you know one, please use the 'Suggest a program' link below. Thanks!
We have not yet verified any web services that work with this specific file format. If you know one, please use the 'Suggest a program' link below. Thanks!

Last updated: January 18, 2022

Other file formats using extension .Z

While UNIX Compressed data is a popular type of Z-file, we know of 3 different uses of the .Z extension. Different software may use files with the same extension for different types of data.

Pack compressed data

Another type of .Z file is created by the (deprecated) "pack" program on Unix. Pack was a program to compress (reduce in size) files, similar to GZIP and compress.

Both Pack and Compress use the .Z extension for compressed files, causing uncertainty on how to decompress them. Several modern tools like gzip, BitZipper, and 7-Zip can decompress both kinds of Z file.

You usually do not need to edit or view these files, as they only contain information usable by the software program that uses them.

InstallShield Z archive

The third type of compressed file using the Z file extension, are compressed installation files used by InstallShield installation software.

Though different unofficial "unshield" programs exist to unpack InstallShield .Z files, it is a proprietary format.

One such unpacker is UnshieldV3.

You usually do not need to edit or view these files, as they only contain information usable by the software program that uses them.