Z File - opening and understanding

Did your computer fail to open a Z file? We explain what they are used for and recommend software that we know can open or otherwise handle your .Z files.

What is a Z file?

A .Z file is an UNIX Compressed data file. The most common type of files that contain 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

You will need a program compatible with the specific file you are trying to open, as different programs may use files with file extension Z for different purposes. We have identified 3 Z openers for Windows that is compatible with this specific type of Z file.

Programs that open these 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!

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.

The Z file extension indicates to your device which app can open the file. However, different apps may use the same file extension for different types of data. So a Z opener may not be able to open all kinds of Z files. In this case, look through all formats to make sure you find the best suited Z viewer.

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.