How-To Geek

Unzip or Unrar Many Files at Once in Linux

If you’ve got a directory with dozens of zipped or rar’d files, you can run a single command to unzip them all in one step, thanks to the power of the bash shell.

For this task, we’ll use bash’s for loop command structure. Replace <var> with a variable name, and <list> with either a command that outputs a list or an explicit list.

for <var> in <list>
   command $<var>;

You can run it on a single line with this syntax instead:

for <var> in <list>;do command $<var>;done

So if you want to unrar a list of files, you could use this command. You don’t necessarily need the quotes, but it helps when the filenames have spaces or something like that in them.

for f in *.rar;do unrar e “$f”;done

If you wanted to use 7zip to extract a list of files:

for f in *.001;do 7z e “$f”;done

Or if you wanted to unzip a list of files:

for f in *.zip;do unzip “$f”;done

You could even chain commands together if you wanted to. For instance, if all your zip files contained .txt files and you wanted to unzip them and then move the unzipped files to another directory:

for f in *.zip;do unzip “$f”;done; for f in *.txt;do mv “$f” /myfolder/;done

The bash shell is just so incredibly powerful… this doesn’t even tap the power, but it should give you a good idea of what is possible.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/28/07

Comments (25)

  1. Mr Linux

    Actually, I’m pretty sure with both these commands you can just do this:

    unzip *.zip
    unzip *.rar

    Seems a bit more straightforward. :-)

  2. The Geek

    That may work sometimes, but didn’t work for me. (just tried it again to make sure)

    The article is mostly illustrating how to use the for / do in bash =)

  3. BookJunkie

    How would I go about ‘rarring’ :) or zipping a bunch of folders?

  4. jose

    Is there a decompressor that extracts almost all file types, if so which?

  5. hoberion

    find -name *.zip -exec unzip {} \;

  6. Ranga

    Try unzip \*.zip – It works in RED HAT flavours, I have not tried it on any other linux.

  7. Alp

    Why didn’t i find this 3 days ago? The only matter is that the files aren’t extracted in subdirectories. I made a similar script myself. Take a look:

  8. Davide Cavestro

    Maybe Alp wants something like this:

    for f in *.zip;do unzip “$f” -d “$f.inflated”;done

    It works on my Debian.

    PS: I’ve not seen Alp link cause it seems broken.

  9. Alp

    Sorry for the broken link, and thanks for pointing that out. It’s fixed now.

  10. Ax3

    Very useful tutorial! Thanks!

    I modified mine a bit to account for archives which ask for confirmation. If you ‘man unzip’ you’ll find a -o switch which: “-o overwrite files WITHOUT prompting”

    So my .sh script amounted to:

    for f in *.zip;
    do unzip -o -d “$f”;

    Hope this helps someone! Regards,

  11. Ax3

    Looks like my previous code post didn’t go thru completely. I meant on the second line of code:

    do unzip -o -d foldername/ “$f”;


  12. 1jackjack

    I know this page is old, but I just found it when looking for a good unrar script, so thought I would post my final solution. The situation: you’re in a directory with a bunch of folders, each one containing a compressed file. I used to use this script, which found and extracted all the *.rar files:

    find -type f -name ‘*.rar’ -exec unrar x {} \;

    But then i noticed some of my compressed files were distributed over many ‘part’ files, and occasionally, all of these would be *.rar files, and so this script would try to do the whole decompression for part file, which was annoying, time consuming and more importantly not the elegant solution! So after a bit of reading, I came up with this:

    for directory in `ls -d */`; do
    rarFile=`ls $directory | grep -i .rar –max-count 1`;
    unrar e $directory$rarFile;

    This iterates through each directory at the current level, and for each one finds just the first *.rar file, and extracts it to the current directory.

  13. Sergio

    thx a lot!!! :)

  14. Kharn

    I know this is old … but 1jackjack .. i found the same thing using

    find -type f -name ‘*.rar’ -exec unrar x {} \;

    i changed it simply to

    find -type f -name ‘*.rar’ -exec unrar x -o- {} \;

    which stops it extracting if files already exist …

    cheers ..

  15. momo

    I found a variation of the command above will extract files to each sub-directory rather than the parent directory, see below

    find -type f -name ‘*.rar’ -execdir unrar x -o- {} \;

  16. momo

    Apologies the script above does not cater for rar files over many parts.
    It will extract and overwrite the previous file even with the -o- option.

    the rar files above will be processed 3 times, each time extracting the same file which will overwite the last

    It is probably best to stick with -exec option rather than -execdir, unless someone else can figure out a way around this

  17. Bob Hazard

    If you copy and paste the above make sure you change the ‘quotes’ to the proper unix single quotes because the webpage has converted them into curly front/back quotes

  18. ShadowGnu

    Thanks! Kharn, you had exactly what I needed. Much appreciated from a linux noob.

  19. hayshun

    Is there an easy way to rename the results to the same name as the directory they were extracted in?

  20. Hamid

    Why don’t you simply use

    unzip ‘*.zip’
    unrar e ‘*.rar’

    Just use the apostrophe around the name template using wildcards.

  21. Boondoklife

    here is a script that I use to unrar and unzip find in a predefined location.


    echo “Started: “`date +%m/%d/%y\ %H:%M\ %Z`
    echo “As:”`whoami`

    # ************
    # Add a quick check to see if another check is running
    if [ -f “$LOCKFILE” ]; then
    echo “Already running!”
    echo Creating Lock File
    touch “$LOCKFILE”


    echo ” ”
    echo “Searching for rars in $DOWNLOADDIR”
    echo ” ”
    ARCHIVES=$( “$FINDCOMMAND” “$DOWNLOADDIR” -type f -regex .*\.[Rr][Aa][Rr] )
    for f in $ARCHIVES; do


    PARTCHECK=$(expr “$f” : ‘.*\([Pp][Aa][Rr][Tt][0-9]\+\.[Rr][Aa][Rr]\)’)

    echo Processing: “$f”

    if [ “$PARTCHECK” ]; then
    echo Multipart Archive Detected
    PART1=$(expr “$f” : ‘.*\([Pp][Aa][Rr][Tt]0\+1\.[Rr][Aa][Rr]\)’)
    if [ “$PART1” ]; then
    echo Extracting Multipart Archive
    nice -n 19 unrar x -o+ “$f” “$DOWNLOADDIR”
    if [ “$?” == “0” ]; then
    if [ “$DOWNLOADDIR” != “$CURDIR” ]; then
    echo Removing “$CURDIR”
    nice -n 19 rm -fR “$CURDIR”
    echo Extraction Successful
    echo Extraction Failed
    echo Skipping Archive Part
    nice -n 19 unrar x -o+ “$f” “$DOWNLOADDIR”
    if [ “$?” == “0” ]; then
    if [ “$DOWNLOADDIR” != “$CURDIR” ]; then
    echo Removing “$CURDIR”
    nice -n 19 rm -fR “$CURDIR”
    echo Extraction Successful
    echo Extraction Failed
    echo ” ”

    echo “Searching for zips in $DOWNLOADDIR”
    ARCHIVES=$( “$FINDCOMMAND” “$DOWNLOADDIR” -type f -regex .*\.[Zz][Ii][Pp] )
    for f in $ARCHIVES; do
    nice -n 19 unzip -o “$f” -d “$DOWNLOADDIR”
    if [ “$?” == “0” ]; then
    if [ “$DOWNLOADDIR” != “$CURDIR” ]; then
    echo Removing “$CURDIR”
    nice -n 19 rm -fR “$CURDIR”
    echo Extraction Successful
    echo Extraction Failed
    echo ” ”


    rm “$LOCKFILE”

    echo “Finished: “`date +%m/%d/%y\ %H:%M\ %Z`

  22. Boondoklife

    The above does require your find command to support regular expressions, if your not sure check the man file.

  23. gbviswanad

    how can extract all files which are in format of at single command to remove the bzip2 and unzip that file , is this possible in linux

  24. Fabian

    I notice this is an old thread but I still see people replying so I give this a go.

    find -type f -name ‘*.rar’ -exec unrar x -o- {} \;

    This does almost exactly what I want the script to do. But what should be added to rename the unpacked file to it’s parent directory?

    So for example I have ‘This.Doc.Is.Important’ as parent dir and with a filename called ‘Important.txt’ so after unpack it should be renamed as ‘This.Doc.Is.Important.txt’

  25. Faiz Lotfy

    I have been using these instructions for a while. I have a question about it. If one is uncompressing multiple files which all contain, among others, a file with the same name, one is always asked by bash if eh wants to abort, overwrite or rename this file…how can one do that? How can one use the commands in the main post above, and answer yes, for example, to questions asked by the executing shell?


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