How can I combine multiple existing zip files into a single file? I'm asking because I have many PDFs to zip, and I want to leverage parallel to save time in zipping them all up (as in ls ./*.pdf | parallel "zip {}.zip {}"). This creates many zip files, but I want to combine the zip files into a single file. I'll then send all these PDFs as one zip file (instead of as many files).

I've heard that two concatenated zip files form a single valid zip file, but in my testing I haven't actually been able to unzip a big concatenated zip file back into multiple files-- For the most part only the first file gets preserved as far as I've been able to make it.

I've considered tarring all my zip files into a single bigfile.zip.tar, but I'd also prefer to avoid this method if possible because I don't think the standard decompression tools my recipient has access to will make it easy to restore a file like that back into many individual PDFs.

  • What's the requirement on the other end? Can they use unix.stackexchange.com/q/4367/117549 or do you need all of the native PDF files as-is in a top-level zip file?
    – Jeff Schaller
    Mar 3, 2020 at 19:37
  • There's also unix.stackexchange.com/questions/151644/…, if it helps
    – Jeff Schaller
    Mar 3, 2020 at 19:38
  • 1
    Also: why not zip all.zip *.pdf and be done with it?
    – Jeff Schaller
    Mar 3, 2020 at 19:39
  • @JeffSchaller That's what we're doing now. Just want to speed things up a bit.
    – mttpgn
    Mar 3, 2020 at 21:12
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    [off topic] for your example, you can avoid the ls with parallel "zip {}.zip {} ::: *.pdf
    – Larry
    Apr 11, 2020 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


I don't think you can concatenate ZIP files easily.

How about gzip files? Unlike ZIP files, they should be easily concatenated as shown here: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/8005114/fast-concatenation-of-multiple-gzip-files. You can also use parallel gzip called pigz: https://zlib.net/pigz/. However, it is difficult to extract a single file from such concatenated gzip file, as stated in the answer from the first link.

Are you sure your recipients are not able to decompress tar files. Most of widely used de/compress programs now support tar archives. There is also an interesting option combining tar and pbzip2, which allows you to use parallel processing from pbzip2: https://linuxconfig.org/how-to-perform-a-faster-data-compression-with-pbzip2.

  • You'd still have to add gzip'd PDFs one at a time to the gzip, and you'd end up with a bunch of concatenated PDFs that aren't very likely to be viewable as PDFs. Even if you used parallel compression it's not addressing the issue of adding multiple PDFs to the same zip/gzip/bzip2 file simultaneously. I don't think pixz (github.com/vasi/pixz) would be able to do that either with each PDF being a separate stream in the xz file, added simultaneously.
    – Larry
    Apr 11, 2020 at 20:16

You basically want to concatenate zip-files. The zip file format does not support that, but it does support not compressing. This may make sense when using .pdf-files that are often already compressed.

So use -0:

zip -0 my.zip *pdf

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