Under my current directory, I have two sub-directories:

   - file1.png
   - file2.png
   - fileN.png

   - fileA.txt
   - ...
   - fileZ.txt

When I tar compress the two directories by :

tar -cvzf result.tar.gz dir_1/ dir_2/ 

I got result.tar.gz but it maintains the directory structure. I mean when I extract the result.tar.gz, I got dir_1 & dir_2 again.

How can I tar compress so that the directory structure is not remained, which means when I extract the tar.gz file, I only get files


2 Answers 2


I think you can do this with the -C option.

From the tar man page:

-C directory, --cd directory, --directory directory
    In c and r mode, this changes the directory before adding the following files.
    In x mode, change directories after opening the archive but before extracting
    entries from the archive.

This means that you should be able to run

tar cvzf result.tar.gz -C /path/to/dir1/ . -C /path/to/dir2/ .

to achieve what you want.

  • I got error "tar: could not chdir to 'dir1/file1.png'"
    – user842225
    Jun 12, 2014 at 12:11
  • I am guessing you missed the spaces between the directory name and the asterisk (*). If we replace all spaces by underscores it should look like this: tar_cvzf_result.tar.gz_-C_dir1/_*_-C_dir2/_*
    – arnefm
    Jun 12, 2014 at 12:13
  • Then I got error "tar: dir1: Cannot stat: No such file or directory"
    – user842225
    Jun 12, 2014 at 12:26
  • 3
    @user842225 That's because the directory paths are relative, you need to either prepend ../ to the second one or use absolute paths. Also you can't use * because it would expand to the list of files in the current directory, you can use . instead. Jun 13, 2014 at 1:41
  • Yes, gilles is correct, that is why my example uses absolute paths. Using relative paths with tar -C tends to get confusing.
    – arnefm
    Jun 18, 2014 at 17:21

With GNU tar, you can use the --transform option to rewrite file names when adding or extracting them to/from an archive. With BSD tar or with pax, the option -s does the same thing.

To remove the leading directory component (so that dir_1/subdir/somefile is stored as subdir/somefile):

tar -czf result.tar.gz --transform '!^[^/]*/!!' dir_1 dir_2

To remove all directory components (so that dir_1/subdir/somefile is stored as somefile):

tar -czf result.tar.gz --transform '!^.*/!!' dir_1 dir_2

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.