How to Unzip a File in Linux: A Step-by-Step Guide

Unzipping a file in Linux is a breeze if you know the right commands. Essentially, you’ll be using the ‘unzip’ command in the terminal, specifying the file you want to unzip, and voila – your file will be ready to use. It’s a handy skill to have up your sleeve, so let’s dive into the details.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Unzip a File in Linux

Before we get into the steps, it’s important to understand what we’re trying to achieve here. Unzipping a file in Linux means we’re going to extract the contents of a compressed file, also known as a zip file. This is useful because it saves space and makes transferring files easier. Plus, it’s a common practice, so knowing how to do it is pretty essential.

Step 1: Open the Terminal

Open the terminal window by pressing CTRL+ALT+T or searching for ‘Terminal’ in your applications.

Getting to the terminal is your first step because it’s where all the magic happens. The terminal is the command line interface that allows you to perform tasks by typing commands, instead of clicking around with your mouse. Think of it as having a conversation with your computer – you ask it to do something, and it responds.

Step 2: Navigate to the Directory

Navigate to the directory where the zip file is located using the ‘cd’ command followed by the directory path.

If you’re not familiar with the ‘cd’ command, it stands for ‘change directory’. It’s like telling your computer, “Hey, let’s go to this folder.” You’ll need to know the path to the directory where your zip file is located. You can find out the path by right-clicking the folder and checking its properties.

Step 3: Use the ‘unzip’ Command

Type ‘unzip’ followed by the name of the zip file you want to unzip and press Enter.

The ‘unzip’ command is the star of the show here. It’s the command that tells your computer to open up that zip file and spill the beans – or, in this case, spill the contents. Make sure to type the name of the file exactly as it appears, including the ‘.zip’ extension.

Step 4: Check the Unzipped Files

Verify that the files have been unzipped by using the ‘ls’ command to list the contents of the directory.

The ‘ls’ command is like taking a peek inside the folder to make sure everything’s in order. It’ll display a list of all the files in the directory, including the ones you’ve just unzipped. This step is like double-checking your work to make sure everything went according to plan.

Once you’ve completed these steps, the files you’ve unzipped will be ready to use. They’ll be sitting in the same directory as the original zip file, unless you specified a different location in the ‘unzip’ command.

Tips: Unzipping Files in Linux

  • Make sure you have permission to unzip the file. You might need to use ‘sudo’ before the ‘unzip’ command if you’re not the file’s owner.
  • If you want to unzip the files to a different directory, use the ‘-d’ option followed by the path to the desired directory.
  • To unzip multiple files at once, you can use the wildcard character ‘*’ in the file name.
  • If you only want to extract specific files from the zip, use the ‘unzip’ command followed by the file names you want to extract.
  • Keep in mind that the ‘unzip’ command can also display the contents of a zip file without extracting it by using the ‘-l’ option.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I don’t have the ‘unzip’ command?

If your Linux distro doesn’t come with ‘unzip’, you can install it using your package manager, such as ‘apt-get install unzip’ for Debian-based systems.

Can I unzip a file with a password?

Yes, you can unzip a password-protected file by using the ‘-P’ option followed by the password. But remember, only use this if you have the right to access the file.

How can I zip a file in Linux?

To zip a file, you can use the ‘zip’ command followed by the name you want for the zip file and the files you want to compress.

What if the zip file is large and takes too long to unzip?

You can stop the process by pressing CTRL+C, and try unzipping it again by specifying only the files you need to extract.

Is there a way to unzip a file without using the terminal?

Yes, you can use a graphical file manager and right-click the zip file, then select ‘Extract Here’ or ‘Extract to…’ to unzip it.


  1. Open the terminal.
  2. Navigate to the directory where the zip file is located.
  3. Use the ‘unzip’ command followed by the name of the zip file.
  4. Check the unzipped files with the ‘ls’ command.


Unzipping a file in Linux is a fundamental skill that can save you time and space on your computer. Whether you’re a developer, a student, or just someone who likes to keep their files organized, mastering the ‘unzip’ command is a must. It’s all about knowing the right commands to type into the terminal – and now that you’ve got these under your belt, you’re ready to tackle any zip file that comes your way. Remember, the terminal is your friend, and with a few keystrokes, you can unleash the full potential of Linux. So go ahead, unzip those files, and let the content breathe. Happy unzipping!