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How can I view the files in a ZIP archive without decompressing it?

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Is it possible to do the same for a regular unix archive? (tar/gzip/bz2/ etc) –  ThorSummoner Oct 17 '14 at 16:59

8 Answers 8

up vote 116 down vote accepted

The less utility is capable of peeking into a zip archive. In fact, if you look at the outputs of unzip -l zipfile and less zipfile, you will find them to be identical.

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Note, that less zipfile on MacOS-X displays the binary filecontent, so you see a lot of garbage instead of the content of the zip-file. Then you should opt for the ``ùnzip -l zipfile``` –  heiglandreas Jan 25 '13 at 9:59
I get slightly more information from unzip compared to less. Just saying. –  matt burns May 7 '13 at 10:57
@ayaz In what system does less list zipfiles? I see comments telling that it does not work on MAC, Ubuntu, and here I use Debian. Debian also shows binary garbage. –  Dr Beco Aug 12 '14 at 4:38
In Ubuntu, try view [zipfile]. –  Samuel Lampa Sep 10 '14 at 16:07
You need the lesspipe helper installed to enable zip file support for less. It's standard on many linux systems but not on OSX, but you can install it with brew. –  pimlottc Jun 18 at 19:37

Try unzip -l files.zip | less

Also, See man unzip for more options

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You can skip the pipe to less command. It is great idea in a big collection of files, though. –  user12287 Jul 9 '14 at 14:39

You can make the zip appear as a directory (in which you use cd, ls, etc.) by mounting it with the fuse-zip virtual filesystem.

mkdir foo.d
fuse-zip foo.zip foo.d
ls foo.d
cat foo.d/README
fusermount -u foo.d
rmdir foo.d

Another relevant FUSE filesystem is AVFS. It creates a view of your entire directory hierarchy where all archives have an associated directory (same name with # tacked on at the end) that appears to hold the archive content.

ls ~/.avfs/$PWD/foo.zip\#
cat ~/.avfs/$PWD/foo.zip\#/README

Many modern file managers (e.g. Nautilus, Dolphin) show archive contents transparently.

AVFS is read-only. Fuse-zip is read-write, but beware that changes are only written to the zip file at unmount time, so don't start reading the archive expecting it to be modified until fusermount -u returns.

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Nice, Giles. Thanks. Just a quick: can one add files to it by justing "cp"ing to the directory? –  Dr Beco Aug 12 '14 at 4:45
@DrBeco With fuse-zip, yes. With avfs, no. –  Gilles Aug 12 '14 at 9:15
Thank you Gilles. –  Dr Beco Aug 22 '14 at 23:33

Its actually unzip -l file.zip | grep "search" or if you have a lot of files

for i in `ls *zip`; do 
  unzip -l $i | grep "search"; 

Update: Changed from '-p' to '-l' in order to search for files.

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Please use


for the same. This is a simple and easy to remember one.

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(yaa) Yet another answer:

Alias this command:

alias vless='/usr/share/vim/vim73/macros/less.sh'

and you can use vless file.zip to take advantage of vi (or vim) less script.

(also good to substitute less, so you can have colors)

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At least in Ubuntu, the possibly easiest command is:

view [zipfile]

This will open up the file listing in your standard text editor (nano, vim etc).

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To list zip contents:

zipinfo -1 myzipfile.zip

For detailed output:

zipinfo myzipfile.zip
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Nice answer, you don't have to parse the output just to get filenames. –  Antoine Pelisse Oct 31 '14 at 23:04

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