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

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5 Answers 5

up vote 57 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
Equally in Ubuntu (at least in version 12.10) less zipfile displays the binary filecontent as @heiglandreas said. –  user12287 Jul 9 at 15:36

Try unzip -l your_zip_file.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 at 14:39

Please use


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

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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.

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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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