How to Unzip GZ Files in Linux [3 Proven Methods]

UX/UI Designer at - Adobe

Akshat is a software engineer, product designer and the co-founder of Scrutify. He's an experienced Linux professional and the senior editor of this blog. He...Read more


To unzip GZ files in Linux, you can try out any of these three methods:

  1. Unzip GZ files in Linux using the command line by navigating to the file’s directory and running gunzip filename.gz.
  2. Extract GZ files in Linux using the GUI file manager by right-clicking on the file and selecting “Extract Here” or “Extract to“.
  3. Perform advanced operations on GZ files with the gunzip command by using options such as -c to write to standard output, -k to preserve the original file, -f to force decompression and overwrite, or -l to display information without decompressing.

In addition, you can explore GUI tools (File Roller, PeaZip, Xarchiver, Ark) and commands (zgrep, zmore, zless) to compress, search, view, and navigate GZ files in Linux. As for errors, you may need to resolve some common errors (such as disk space, permissions, compression method, corruption, and file not found) with Linux commands. And for efficient GZ file management, you should implement best practices like backups, automation, encryption, and descriptive naming.

Learn the three effective ways to unzip GZ files in Linux with four third-party tools, three commonly used commands, five troubleshooting tips, and four best practices in the guide below.

If you use Linux, you’ve likely come across files that end with the .gz extension. These are files that have been compressed using the gunzip tool. Since most of Linux software is distributed as compressed packages, learning to deal with such files is important for you. To help you out, I’ll guide you on decompressing or unzipping GZ files in Linux using the command line, graphical user interface (GUI) , and other options. You’ll also get to learn about the top four third-party tools, three commonly used commands with GZ files, quick troubleshooting tips to resolve five common errors, and four best practices for effective GZ files managment in Linux.

How to Unzip GZ File in Linux in 3 Easy Ways

To unzip GZ files in Linux, you can use the command line or a graphical user interface (GUI). Additionally, you can use flags with the “gunzip” command for advanced options. Here is the step-by-step guide for each method:

1. Use the Linux Command Line

You can use the command line in the Terminal app to unzip GZ files in Linux. Follow these steps to easily extract GZ files using the command line:

  1. Launch the Terminal app on your Linux system and navigate to the directory where the GZ file is located using the cd command.
cd ~/directory-name
  1. Run the gunzip command followed by the name of the GZ file you want to extract. For example:
gunzip filename.gz
run gunzip command followed by name of gz files in linux
  1. If the extraction is successful, you should see a new file with the same name as the GZ file but without the .gz extension.
you should see new file with the same name

2. Use a Graphical User Interface (GUI)

If you prefer a more user-friendly approach, you can use a GUI tool to extract GZ files in Linux. Here’s how to extract GZ files using the default file manager in Ubuntu:

  1. Navigate to the directory where the GZ file is located using the file manager.
navigate to directory where gz file is located
  1. Right-click on the GZ file and select Extract Here or Extract to from the context menu.
right click on gz file and select extract here
  1. When the extraction is complete, a newly created folder with the identical name as the GZ file should appear.
newly created folder with identical name should appear

3. Use the Gunzip Command with Flags

To use the gunzip command with flags, you can apply various options to modify its behavior. Here are some examples of how to use the gunzip command to manage other operations for the GZ files.

  1. Use the -c option to write the decompressed output to standard output to decompress a file and specify the name of the output file.
gunzip -c file.gz > outputfile
write decompressed output to standard output
  1. Another way to keep the original compressed file is to use the -k option with the gunzip command. This flag preserves the original compressed file after decompression.
gunzip -k file.gz
use the k option with the gunzip command
  1. To force the decompression of a GZ file and overwrite the output file if it already exists, you can use the -f option.
gunzip -f file.gz
overwrite output file if it already exists
  1. To display information about a GZ file without decompressing it, you should use the -l option.
gunzip -l file.gz
to display information about gz file without decompressing

Top 4 Third-Party Tools to Unzip GZ Files

In addition to command-line tools, you can also use other third-party tools for extracting GZ files. These tools provide a user-friendly interface that simplifies the extraction process and allows you to interact with GZ archives effortlessly. Here are some of the popular GUI tools available for extracting GZ files in Linux:

1. File Roller

File Roller, also known as Archive Manager, is a widely used GUI tool that comes pre-installed in many Linux distributions, including Ubuntu and Fedora. It supports various archive formats, including GZ files. Using File Roller, you can easily unzip GZ files by simply selecting the archive and choosing the extraction location. It offers intuitive options for managing compression levels, file permissions, and other advanced settings.

file roller unzip gz files in linux

2. PeaZip

PeaZip is a free and open-source cross-platform GUI tool that supports a wide range of archive formats, including GZ files. It offers a simple and intuitive interface with drag-and-drop functionality, making it easy to extract GZ files. PeaZip also provides additional features like encryption, file conversion, and file integrity checking, enhancing the overall archiving and extraction experience.

peazip unzip gz files in linux

3. Xarchiver

Xarchiver is a lightweight and user-friendly GUI tool for managing archives in Linux. It supports a wide range of archive formats, including GZ files. With Xarchiver, you can easily unzip GZ files by selecting the desired archive and choosing the extraction location. It offers a simple and minimalistic interface, making it suitable to use if you prefer lightweight applications with basic archiving and extraction functionalities.

xarchiver unzip gz files in linux

4. Ark

Ark is an archive manager for KDE desktop environments. It supports features such as drag-and-drop and previewing the contents of archives of various formats. Furthermore, this tool offers essential features for extracting GZ files, such as extracting to a specific directory, preserving file permissions, and handling password-protected archives. It integrates well with the KDE Plasma desktop environment and provides seamless file management capabilities.

ark unzip gz files in linux

3 Commonly Used Commands to Manage GZ Files in Linux

In addition to the commands mentioned earlier in the article, several other useful commands can enhance your ability to work with GZ files in Linux. Here are some of them:

1. zgrep

zgrep command is used to search for patterns in GZ files using regular expressions. It is similar to the grep command, but works with compressed files. Here’s how you can use this command in the Terminal window:

zgrep "searchterm" filename.gz

The command will search for the specified “searchterm” within the given compressed file (filename.gz) and display any lines containing the search term in the standard output. This is helpful when you need to search for specific information within large, compressed files without having to manually decompress them first.

zgrep is used to search for patterns in gz files

2. zmore

zmore lets you view the contents of GZ files one screen at a time. It combines the functionality of more (a text-paging tool) and gzip (a file compression tool). Here’s an example of how to use more with the GZ files in Linux command prompt:

zmore filename.gz

This command will decompress the specified file (filename.gz) on-the-fly and display its contents one screen at a time in the terminal. You can navigate through the content using various keyboard commands. For example, pressing Enter will display the next line, while the Space key presents the subsequent screen or page. To backtrack, simply press b to return to the previous screen, and when finished, hit q to exit zmore mode and revert to the Linux command prompt.

zmore lets you view contents of gz files

3. zless

zless command is similar to zmore, but allows you to freely scroll up and down through the contents of the file using the arrow keys. This makes zless a more versatile tool for examining large compressed files. To use zless, simply type the following in the Terminal window:

zless filename.gz

When this command is executed in the terminal, the specified file is decompressed on-the-fly, and its contents are displayed for easy scrolling using the arrow keys. In addition to scrolling, you can employ other commands, such as press q to exit zless mode and return to the command prompt in your Terminal window.

zless command is similar to zmore

5 Common Errors When Unzipping GZ Files in Linux

Sometimes, GZ extraction may fail or encounter issues. Here are some common errors and issues that you may encounter when unzipping GZ files in Linux and how to resolve them:

  • 💿 “Disk space full” error: When encountering a “disk space full” error while trying to unzip GZ files, it’s necessary to free up space on the disk or move the GZ file to another location with sufficient space. To check the available disk space, you can use the command df -h, which provides an overview of the disk usage and available space on all mounted file systems. To remove unnecessary files or directories and free up space, you can utilize commands like rm to remove files or rmdir to remove empty directories.
  • 🔒 “Insufficient Permissions” Error: If you receive a permission denied error while trying to unzip GZ files, it means you do not have sufficient permissions to perform the operation. To resolve this, you can use the chmod command to change the permissions of the file, granting yourself the necessary read, write, or execute permissions. Alternatively, you can use the sudo command to execute the extraction command with administrative privileges.
  • “Unsupported Compression Method” Error: This error occurs when the GZ file is compressed using a different compression algorithm that is not supported by the extraction tool. To resolve this, ensure that you are using a compatible extraction tool that supports GZ files in Linux. If needed, you can try alternative tools or utilities specifically designed for handling different compression algorithms.
  • 🛠️ “Corrupted GZ File” Error: If you encounter an error stating that the GZ file is corrupted or invalid, it may be due to a file transfer issue or an incomplete download. To resolve this, try re-downloading the GZ file from a trusted source. If the issue persists, you can use file integrity-checking commands like md5sum or sha256sum to verify the checksum of the file and compare it with the provided value.
  • “File Not Found” Error: This error occurs when the specified GZ file does not exist in the given location. To resolve this issue, double-check the file path and ensure that the file actually exists. You can use the ls command to list the files in a directory and verify the presence of the GZ file.

4 Best Practices to Manage GZ Files in Linux

By incorporating these Linux commands and practices, you can enhance your GZ file management, improve efficiency, and ensure the security and organization of your files. Here are some best practices for managing GZ files in Linux:

  • 💾 Regular Backups: Back up all important GZ files to an external storage device or a cloud-based storage solution to prevent data loss in case of system failure or hardware malfunction. You can use commands like rsync or tar with appropriate options to create automated backup scripts.
  • 🔄 Automation: Automate GZ file management tasks using tools like cron or systemd and scripting to save time, ensure consistency, and accuracy. Write scripts that handle the extraction, compression, and organization of GZ files and schedule them to run at specific intervals using cron or integrate them with systemd timers.
  • 🔒 Security: Maintain the security of GZ files by using encryption tools like GnuPG to encrypt sensitive files and setting appropriate file permissions and user access levels to preserve data confidentiality and integrity. Use commands like gpg to encrypt and decrypt GZ files and chmod to set file permissions.
  • 📂 Organization: Organize GZ files in a separate directory, use descriptive file names and consistent naming conventions to make it easy to identify files and understand their contents. Keep a log of compressed and decompressed files to track their usage and manage disk space. Use commands like mkdir to create directories and mv to move files to appropriate locations.

In Conclusion

In this article, I’ve shown you how to unzip GZ files in Linux using the command line, GUI, and multiple flags. I’ve also covered third-party tools, commonly used commands, and best practices for managing GZ files. In addition, you can also easily troubleshoot five common errors when dealing with GZ files in Linux.

To further expand your skills as a Linux user, consider reading my detailed guide on using the grep OR condition to delve deeper into powerful text-searching tools and memory usage optimization to discover effective strategies for managing it. Moreover, if you are using encryption for the compressed files in Linux, you should check out how to fix “gpg: no valid OpenPGP data found” error to address encryption issues. With this knowledge, I’m sure that you will be able to effectively manage and unzip GZ files in Linux while improving your productivity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use the same commands for unzipping GZ files on different Linux distributions?

Regardless of the Linux distribution, you can use the command-line utility gzip to compress and decompress files with the .gz extension. Similarly, you can use the tar command along with gzip to create and extract compressed archives with the .tar.gz extension. Additionally, some distributions may provide alternative compression tools like bzip2 or xz that use different command syntax but have similar functionality.

How can I unzip multiple GZ files in Linux at once using a single command?

Unzipping multiple GZ files at once can save time and effort. By using a single command, you can decompress several files concurrently. To accomplish this, you can either use shell wildcards or list all the filenames. An example of using shell wildcards is running gunzip *.gz to unzip all GZ files in the current directory. This command will decompress all files in the directory concurrently, saving you time and effort.

Can I use gzip and gunzip commands on non-Linux platforms?

Yes, gzip and gunzip commands are also available on non-Linux platforms such as macOS and Windows. On macOS, these commands can be used in the Terminal app, similar to Linux. This means that if you’re familiar with using gzip and gunzip on Linux, you can easily use them on a Mac as well. On Windows, you can use gzip and gunzip commands through the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). WSL allows you to run Linux commands and applications natively on Windows, making it a great option for using gzip and gunzip on a Windows machine. Alternatively, you can also use third-party tools like 7-Zip and WinRAR that support GZ file compression and decompression.

AkshatUX/UI Designer at - Adobe

Akshat is a software engineer, product designer and the co-founder of Scrutify. He's an experienced Linux professional and the senior editor of this blog. He is also an open-source contributor to many projects on Github and has written several technical guides on Linux. Apart from that, he’s also actively sharing his ideas and tutorials on Medium and Attirer. As the editor of this blog, Akshat brings his wealth of knowledge and experience to provide readers with valuable insights and advice on a wide range of Linux-related topics.

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