XKCD Tar comic

I could never remember the correct options for all those different compression programs. Tar, unzip, gzip - you name it and I forgot it. Patool remembers all those options for me now so I don’t have to.


Various archive types can be created, extracted, tested, listed, compared, searched and repacked with patool. The advantage of patool is its simplicity in handling archive files without having to remember a myriad of programs and options.

The archive format is determined by the file(1) program and as a fallback by the archive file extension.

patool supports 7z (.7z, .cb7), ACE (.ace, .cba), ADF (.adf), ALZIP (.alz), APE (.ape), AR (.a), ARC (.arc), ARJ (.arj), BZIP2 (.bz2), BZIP3 (.bz3), CAB (.cab), CHM (.chm), COMPRESS (.Z), CPIO (.cpio), DEB (.deb), DMS (.dms), FLAC (.flac), GZIP (.gz), ISO (.iso), LRZIP (.lrz), LZH (.lha, .lzh), LZIP (.lz), LZMA (.lzma), LZOP (.lzo), RPM (.rpm), RAR (.rar, .cbr), RZIP (.rz), SHN (.shn), TAR (.tar, .cbt), XZ (.xz), ZIP (.zip, .jar, .cbz), ZOO (.zoo) and ZSTANDARD (.zst) archive formats.

It relies on helper applications to handle those archive formats (for example xz for XZ (.xz) archives).

The archive formats TAR, ZIP, BZIP2 and GZIP are supported natively and do not require helper applications to be installed.


The easy way with pip:

sudo pip install patool

And on Windows:

c:\python3\scripts\pip install patool

Or after downloading the patool .whl file:

c:\python3\scripts\pip install patool-1.9-py2.py3-none-any.whl

You will need at least Python 3.10.

If you install from source read the installation instructions.


After installation there should be a /usr/bin/patool binary under Unix systems, under Windows should exist a file c:\python3\scripts\patool.

Use patool to run for Linux or OSX systems, on Windows use c:\python3\python3.exe c:\python3\scripts\patool.

See the following chapter for usage examples.


# extract two archives
patool extract otherarchive.rar

# test if archive is intact
patool test --verbose dist.tar.gz

# list files inside an archive
patool list package.deb

# create a new archive
patool create --verbose file1.txt dir/

# list differences between two archive contents
patool diff release1.0.tar.gz

# search archive contents
patool search "def urlopen" python-3.3.tar.gz

# compress the archive in a different format
patool repack linux-2.6.33.tar.gz linux-2.6.33.tar.bz2