The tar command in Windows Command Prompt is a powerful tool used for archiving and managing file collections into a single archive file commonly known as tarball. Originally developed for UNIX, this command is essential for bundling a set of files, compressing, or extracting archives. It is particularly useful in backup processes, data distribution, and file storage optimization.


The basic syntax of the tar command is as follows:

tar [options] <operation> [<options>] <archive-file> [<file or directory>...]


  • <operation> is one of the key operations like -c (create), -x (extract), or -t (list).
  • <options> modify the behavior of the specified operation.
  • <archive-file> is the name of the tar file to create or extract.
  • <file or directory> specifies the files or directories to be archived or extracted.


Here are some of the common options/flags used with the tar command:

  • -c: Creates a new archive containing the specified items.
  • -x: Extracts files from an archive.
  • -t: Lists the contents of an archive.
  • -f: Specifies the filename of the archive.
  • -v: Verbose mode; display progress in the terminal.
  • -z: Compress the archive using gzip.
  • -j: Compress the archive using bzip2.
  • --exclude=<pattern>: Exclude files that match the pattern.
  • -C: Changes to a specific directory before performing any operations.


  1. Creating an archive:

    tar -cvf archive.tar file1.txt file2.txt folder/

    This command creates an archive named archive.tar containing file1.txt, file2.txt, and everything in the folder directory.

  2. Extracting an archive:

    tar -xvf archive.tar

    Extracts the contents of archive.tar to the current working directory, displaying the names of files as they are extracted.

  3. Viewing the content of an archive:

    tar -tvf archive.tar

    Lists the contents of archive.tar without extracting it.

Common Issues

  • File Not Found: Ensure paths are correct when creating or extracting archives.
  • Permissions Error: Run the command prompt as an administrator if you encounter permission issues.
  • Compression not working: Make sure to include the -z or -j options for gzip or bzip2 compression respectively.


The tar command can be integrated with other CMD commands for advanced tasks. For example, combining it with find can be useful:

dir /B | findstr /R ".*\.txt$" > list.txt
tar -cvf text_files.tar -T list.txt

This script archives all .txt files listed in list.txt into text_files.tar.

  • gzip/gunzip: Tools for file compression and decompression.
  • zip/unzip: Manage zip archives.
  • find: Searches for files in a directory hierarchy.

For more information on using the tar command, visit the GNU Tar documentation.