Is there a way to zip all files in a given directory with the zip command? I've heard of using *.*, but I want it to work for extensionless files, too.

  • 4
    Have you tried navigating one-level up from your desired directory and doing zip myarch.zip mydir/*?
    – Joseph R.
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 16:46
  • 19
    or better zip -r myarch.zip mydir/*
    – Adam
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 17:52
  • 46
    or better zip -r myarch.zip mydir Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 16:42
  • 1
    *.* means any file with a dot. In cp/m and dos all files had a dot, and it made you type it (could not do *). Therefore people came to see *.* as all files. Eventually Microsoft added long-filenames that could have zero, or more dots. To find a file that has a dot on windows you have to type *.*.*. Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 16:51

6 Answers 6


You can just use *; there is no need for *.*. File extensions are not special on Unix. * matches zero or more characters—including a dot. So it matches foo.png, because that's zero or more characters (seven, to be exact).

Note that * by default doesn't match files beginning with a dot (neither does *.*). This is often what you want. If not, in bash, if you shopt -s dotglob it will (but will still exclude . and ..). Other shells have different ways (or none at all) of including dotfiles.

Alternatively, zip also has a -r (recursive) option to do entire directory trees at once (and not have to worry about the dotfile problem):

zip -r myfiles.zip mydir

where mydir is the directory containing your files. Note that the produced zip will contain the directory structure as well as the files. As peterph points out in his comment, this is usually seen as a good thing: extracting the zip will neatly store all the extracted files in one subdirectory.

You can also tell zip to not store the paths with the -j/--junk-paths option.

The zip command comes with documentation telling you about all of its (many) options; type man zip to see that documentation. This isn't unique to zip; you can get documentation for most commands this way.

  • 15
    You might want to add, that it is considered a good practice to contain everything in the archive in a top-level directory - so that one doesn't pollute his/her current directory on extraction.
    – peterph
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 16:54
  • @peterph done. Though this is less a convention in zip files than in e.g., tarfiles, I'm afraid.
    – derobert
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 16:59
  • unfortunately yes. Probably due to the windows heritage of drag'n'drop to the desktop and linux heritage of working with source codes.
    – peterph
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 17:03
  • 4
    Keep in mind that * shell-globbing doesn't include dotfiles (ie. filenames beginning with .). This is another advantage to zipping the whole directory by name.
    – mrb
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 17:29
  • 1
    But using -r includes the directory itself, which breaks what I'm doing. Wouldn't * include . and ..?
    – tkbx
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 17:30

In my case I wanted to zip each file into its own archive, so I did the following (in zsh):

$ for file in *; do zip ${file%.*}.zip $file; done
  • 3
    There's no mkv here? Also nothing here is particularly zsh-specific. You'll want to properly quote any variable containing a file name, so zip "${file%.*}.zip" "$file" with the double quotes around both variables.
    – tripleee
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 11:08
  • 1
    @tripleee Firstly, thanks for pointing out my erroneous reference to mkv. Secondly, quoting arguments is unnecessary in zsh, unlike in bash. That's why I specified that this was a command for zsh. Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 16:20
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    Replacing the last semi-colon with an ampersand might speed it up significantly (If the number of files in the directory is reasonable...). Otherwise find . -type f -maxdepth 1 -print0|xargs -r0 -n1 -P64 -I{} bash -c 'f="{}"; zip "${f%.*}.zip" "$f"' (with -P adjusted depending on your CPU threads...) (Many GNU dependencies...) Commented May 18, 2018 at 17:30
  • 2
    to zip each file into its own archive, do gzip * Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 22:40

Another way would be to use find and xargs: (this might include a "." directory in the zip, but it should still extract correctly. With my test, zip stripped the dot before compression) find . -type f -exec zip zipfile.zip {} +

(The + can be replaced with \; if your version of find does not support the + end for exec. It will be slower though...)

This will by default include all sub-directories. On GNU find -maxdepth can prevent that.

  • (unlike the solutions using *, this will include dotfiles and won't fall over if there are too many files in a directory) Commented May 17, 2018 at 16:04

Another (slow) method to do this (which adds one file to the zip at a time):

for f in * .[^.]*; do
    [ -r "$f" ] || continue # Skip directories or non-existant files (Probably ".[^.]*" if directory has no dotfiles). Using -e will allow directories to be used as well
    zip zipfile.zip "$f" # If directories are included, you probably want to add -r

This has the dotfile issues of * (workaround added) and would be start zip once for each file, adding it to the archive. In bash, it would deal with a large amount of files.

It would be slower than most of the other methods, but is relatively simple.

  • 1
    I would say this is less simple than the accepted answer, and slower, which prompts the question: "Why would anyone do this?". If you can answer that question, I recommend you put that context in your answer, otherwise I think it is a bad answer to an old question that has a good answer already.
    – Centimane
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 16:21
  • @Centimane: I note the limitations. I feel this has educational value. (If not skipping directories, it is quite simple). If you want a much faster answer using a (standard) external tool instead, my other answer covers that. (with the dotfiles handling removed (which affects correctness without their absence mentioned in the question), I feel it is quite elegant): for f in *; do zip zip.zip "$f"; done Commented May 18, 2018 at 17:09
  • 1
    Note that the accepted answer doesn't use an external command and would be faster. In what scenario would this answer be useful?
    – Centimane
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 19:00
  • 2
    @Centimane With tar when there are more files than what bash can pass as parameters. (find + xargs are better, for loops are easier...). It is a (unique) answer to the question. It is certainly not the optimal answer. (Non optimal answers can still be useful for similar problems, if someone has a slightly different situation - e.g. wanting tar file any directories in it) Commented May 18, 2018 at 22:18

If you want to avoid using globs you can do

cd mydir
zip -r ../my.zip .

It's not pretty, but it gets the job done :)


Not .zip files, but gzip * is a brief command that will compress each file in a dir into its own .gz and delete the original. Really handy in many cases, as many other tools can work with the .gz files directly.

user@computer:~/test$ touch test1.txt
user@computer:~/test$ touch test2.txt
user@computer:~/test$ touch test3.txt
user@computer:~/test$ ls
test1.txt  test2.txt  test3.txt
user@computer:~/test$ gzip *
user@computer:~/test$ ls
test1.txt.gz  test2.txt.gz  test3.txt.gz
  • I think the question is asking how to zip an entire folder, not individual files in a folder
    – Aurovrata
    Commented Jan 21 at 11:04

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