Can anyone tell me if it's possible to pipe | this without having to create a physical file anywhere between A and B.tar.gz?

This is what I'm trying to do:

  1. File A
  2. Rename A to B
  3. Tar B.tar
  4. gzip -9 B.tar.gz

So for example:

cp A B | tar cvf - B | gzip -9 B.tar.gz
  • 1
    why would you like to pipe cp A B ?
    – Dor
    Aug 5, 2011 at 11:30
  • 1
    rename is mv. Aug 5, 2011 at 11:44
  • 4
    Please explain why you would like to copy A to B first.
    – speakr
    Jun 21, 2012 at 10:23

3 Answers 3


The following examples can be used to avoid creating intermediary files:

tar with gzip:

tar cf - A | gzip -9 > B.tar.gz

gzip without tar:

gzip -9c A > B.gz

tar without gzip:

tar cf B.tar A

Renaming (moving) A to B first doesn't make sense to me. If this is intended, then just put a mv A B && before either of the above commands and exchange A with B there.

Example with tar and gzip:

mv A B && tar cf - B | gzip -9 > B.tar.gz

  • 1
    This is correct and should be marked as such. You must include a "-" after "tar" for the piped option otherwise you get "tar: Cowardly refusing to create an empty archive".
    – Adambean
    Jul 22, 2017 at 10:38
  • This does not answer the question because the filename stored in the tar file is A, not B. The problem has not been solved.
    – user253751
    Nov 13, 2021 at 12:27

It depends on your version of tar

If you have the version that supports member transforms (--transform or --xform) then you can simply do

tar -c --transform=s/A/B/ A | gzip -9 > B.tar.gz

the | gzip -9 >B.tar.gz can be avoided if your tar supports the -z option

tar -zcvf B.tar.gz --transform=s/A/B/ A

If your version of tar doesn't support --transform then you will have to just copy the file first eg

 cp A B && tar -zcvf B.tar.gz B

However if you are only compressing one file why not skip the tar part all together and just do

cat A | gzip -9 > B.gz
  • I've used cp as you did in your example but rename is mv
    – Bob Vale
    Aug 5, 2011 at 11:45

If you are using cp to make a copy with a different name/location, then just include the full/final pathname you want when creating your completed .gzip file:

tar -cvf existing.file | gzip -1 > ./newdirectory/newnamed.file.tgz
  • 1
    This does not work, produces "tar: Cowardly refusing to create an empty archive".
    – Adambean
    Jul 22, 2017 at 10:37
  • @Adambean Maybe you want to use tar -czf - some-folder > some-archive.tar.gz?
    – tsauerwein
    Sep 5, 2018 at 10:57
  • 1
    @tsauerwein, yes, see my reply to the below answer from 14 months ago...
    – Adambean
    Sep 5, 2018 at 16:23

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