Many times I need to extract different kinds of archived files using commad-line. But not all the time I remember the exact command for any type of file archive. So, I have to waste time and search again. How can I avoid this?


2 Answers 2


You can use the following shell script (I named it extract and I put it in ~/bin):


if [ $# -lt 1 ];then
  echo "Usage: `basename $0` FILES"
  exit 1

# I found the following function at https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/168/37944
# which I improved it a little. Many thanks to sydo for this idea.
extract () {
    for arg in $@ ; do
        if [ -f $arg ] ; then
            case $arg in
                *.tar.bz2)  tar xjf $arg      ;;
                *.tar.gz)   tar xzf $arg      ;;
                *.bz2)      bunzip2 $arg      ;;
                *.gz)       gunzip $arg       ;;
                *.tar)      tar xf $arg       ;;
                *.tbz2)     tar xjf $arg      ;;
                *.tgz)      tar xzf $arg      ;;
                *.zip)      unzip $arg        ;;
                *.Z)        uncompress $arg   ;;
                *.rar)      rar x $arg        ;;  # 'rar' must to be installed
                *.jar)      jar -xvf $arg     ;;  # 'jdk' must to be installed
                *)          echo "'$arg' cannot be extracted via extract()" ;;
            echo "'$arg' is not a valid file"

extract $@

Don't forget to make the script executable:

chmod +x ~/bin/extract


extract file_1 file_2 ... file_n 
  • Nice one. I find that zip sometimes extracts into the current directory, when I want it it its own subdirectory. Using unzip -d basename $arg might help.
    – crafter
    Sep 8, 2013 at 20:57

The dtrx command is your friend on that matter.

It uncompresses any archive file by guessing its type. It will also make sure the files you uncompress will be put in a new directory ; avoiding messing up the current working dir with tons of files.


sudo aptitude install dtrx


dtrx stuff.zip

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