gzip - macOS


gzip (GNU zip) is a command-line utility used on macOS and other Unix/Linux-based systems for file compression and decompression. It is particularly effective with text-based content and is extensively utilized to save space and speed up file transmission. gzip commonly works with tar files, creating compressed archives.


The basic syntax of the gzip command is:

gzip [options] [file ...]

Here, [options] can be replaced with various flags to modify the behavior of the command, and [file ...] represents the files to be compressed or decompressed.


  • -d, --decompress: Decompress files
  • -c, --stdout: Output the result on standard output, leaving original files unchanged
  • -k, --keep: Keep input files, don’t delete them
  • -r, --recursive: Operate recursively on directories
  • -l, --list: List the compression information for specified files
  • -f, --force: Force compression or decompression
  • -h, --help: Display help message and exit
  • -v, --verbose: Provide verbose output
  • -1, --fast to -9, --best: Control the speed of compression, -1 being the fastest with the least compression and -9 being the slowest with the best compression
  • -t, --test: Test the compressed file integrity
  • -q, --quiet: Suppress all warnings


  • Without any options, gzip compresses the specified files.


  1. Basic Compression:

    gzip filename.txt

    This command compresses filename.txt to filename.txt.gz and removes the original file.

  2. Keeping Original Files:

    gzip -k filename.txt

    Compresses the file but retains the original filename.txt.

  3. Decompressing Files:

    gzip -d filename.txt.gz

    Decompress the given .gz file.

  4. Verbose Mode Compression:

    gzip -v filename.txt

    Compress filename.txt displaying detailed information during the process.

  5. Recursive Compression of Directories:

    gzip -r foldername/

    Compress all the files recursively in foldername directory.

Common Issues

  • File Overwrite: By default, gzip will overwrite files without warning. Using the -k option can prevent this.
  • Memory Usage: Very large files might consume considerable memory. Adjusting the compression level can sometimes mitigate this issue.
  • File Permissions: Running gzip might result in permission-related errors if the user does not have the appropriate rights. Using sudo may be required in such cases.


gzip can be effectively used with other commands for powerful command-line workflows. For example:

tar -cvf - directory/ | gzip > archive.tar.gz

This command chain creates a compressed tarball from a directory.

  • gunzip: Specifically for decompressing gzip files
  • zcat: Tool to display the content of a compressed file
  • tar: Archiving utility often used in conjunction with gzip for creating compressed archives

View the official documentation for gzip here for more detailed information and advanced usage.