Question: What is a TAR File?
Did you find a TAR file on your computer and wonder what program should open it? Maybe someone emailed you a TAR file but you're not sure how to use it. Perhaps you tried to open the TAR file but Windows told you that it could not open it.
Before you can open a TAR file (assuming it's even a file format that's intended to be viewed or edited), you'll need to determine what kind of file the .TAR file extension refers to.
Answer: A file with the TAR file extension is a Consolidated Unix Archive file.
Other types of files may also use the TAR file extension. If you know of any additional file formats that use the .TAR extension, please let me know so I can update this information.
How To Open a TAR File
The easiest way to open a TAR file is to double-click on it and let your PC decide which default application should open the file. If no program opens the TAR file then you probably don't have an application installed that can view and/or edit TAR files.
Warning: Take great care when opening executable file formats received via email or downloaded from websites you're not familiar with. See my List of Executable File Extensions for a listing of file extensions to avoid and why.
TAR files, being a relatively common archive/compressed format, can be opened with most popular zip/unzip tools. PeaZip and 7-Zip are probably my favorite free file extractors that support TAR files, but check out this List of Free File Extractors for a number of other choices.
If you know anything else useful about TAR files, please let me know so I can update this page.
Tip: Use Notepad or another text editor to open the TAR file. Many files are text-only files meaning no matter the file extension, a text editor may be able to properly display the file's contents. I highly doubt this will be useful... unless you think your TAR file isn't a Consolidated Unix Archive file.
If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the TAR file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open TAR files, see my How To Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for making that change in Windows.
How To Convert a TAR File
There are two main ways to attempt to convert a TAR file to another file type:
- Open the TAR file in its default program and choose to save the open file as another file format.
- Use a File Conversion Online Service or Software Program to convert the TAR file to another file format.
The first option involving opening the TAR file in its native program is preferable because it's both easier and will probably result in a more accurate file conversion. Of course if you don't have a program that opens TAR files, a third-party file conversion tool (the second option) could be very useful.
Important: You cannot usually change a file extension (like the TAR file extension) to one that your computer recognizes and expect the newly renamed file to be usable. An actual file format conversion using one of the methods described above must take place in most cases.
Still Having Problems Opening or Using a TAR File?
See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more. Let me know what kinds of problems you're having with opening or using the TAR file and I'll see what I can do to help.