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How to Unzip Files in Linux

In this tutorial, we will show you how to unzip files in Linux systems through the command line using the unzip command.

What is Unzip?

Unzip is a utility that helps you list, test and extract compressed ZIP archives.

Install Unzip

Unzip is not installed by default in most Linux distributions, but you can easily install it using the package manager of your distribution.

Install Unzip on Ubuntu and Debian

sudo apt install unzip

Install Unzip on CentOS and Fedora

sudo yum install unzip

How to Unzip a ZIP file

In it’s simplest form when used without any option, the unzip command will extract all files from the specified ZIP archive to the current directory.


In order to be able to extract a ZIP archive in a specific directory the user needs to have write permissions on that directory.

ZIP files do not support Linux-style ownership information, and all extracted files will be owned by the user that runs the command.

As an example let’s say that you downloaded the Wordpress installation ZIP file. To unzip this file to the current directory, you’d simply run the following command:


How to suppress the output from the unzip command

By default the unzip command prints the names of all the files it’s extracting and a summary when the extraction is completed.

Use the -q switch to suppress the printing of these messages.

unzip -q

How to Unzip a ZIP file to a Different Directory

To unzip a ZIP file in a different directory than the current one, use the -d switch.

unzip -d /path/to/directory

For example, to unzip the Wordpress archive to the /var/www/ directory, you’d use the following command:

sudo unzip -d /var/www

In the command above we are using sudo because in most cases the user we are logged in as doesn’t have write permissions to the /var/www directory. When ZIP files are decompressed using sudo, the extracted files and directories will be owned by the user root.


How to Unzip a Password Protected ZIP file

To unzip a file that is password protected, use the -P switch followed by the password.

unzip -P PasswOrd

How to Exclude Files when Unzipping a ZIP File

If you want to extract all the files from a ZIP archive except for one, use the -x switch.

unzip -x file-to-exclude

In the following example we are extracting all files and directories from the ZIP archive except the .git directory:

unzip -x "*.git/*"

How to Overwrite Existing Files when using Unzip

Let’s say you’ve already unzipped a ZIP file and you are are running the same command again.


By default Unzip will ask you whether you like to overwrite only the current file, overwrite all files, skip extraction of the current file, skip extraction of all files, or rename the current file.

replace wordpress/xmlrpc.php? [y]es, [n]o, [A]ll, [N]one, [r]ename:

If you want to overwrite existing files without prompting, use the -o switch:

unzip -o

Use this option with caution. The files will be overwritten and if you made any changes to the files, the changes will be lost.

How to Unzip a ZIP File Without Overwriting Existing Files

Let’s say you’ve already unzipped a ZIP file and you made changes to some files but you accidently deleted few files. You want to keep the changes and to restore the deleted files from the ZIP archive.

In this case you’d use the -n option which forces Unzip to skip the extraction of a file that already exists.

unzip -n

How to Unzip Multiple ZIP Files

If you have multiple ZIP files in your current working directory you can Unzip all files using only one command:

unzip '*.zip'

Note the single quotes around the *.zip. If you forgot to quote the argument the shell will expand the wildcard character and you will get an error.

How to List the Contents of a Zip File

To list the contents of a ZIP file, use the -l switch.

unzip -l

In our example, we list all WordPress installation files by executing:

unzip -l

The output will look like this:

  Length      Date    Time    Name
---------  ---------- -----   ----
        0  2018-08-02 22:39   wordpress/
     3065  2016-08-31 18:31   wordpress/xmlrpc.php
      364  2015-12-19 12:20   wordpress/wp-blog-header.php
     7415  2018-03-18 17:13   wordpress/readme.html
    21323  2018-03-09 01:15   wordpress/wp-admin/themes.php
     8353  2017-09-10 18:20   wordpress/wp-admin/options-reading.php
     4620  2017-10-24 00:12   wordpress/wp-trackback.php
     1889  2018-05-03 00:11   wordpress/wp-comments-post.php
---------                     -------
 27271400                     1648 files


You have learned how to unzip ZIP files and most common Unzip options.

If you want to learn more about Unzip visit the Unzip Man page.