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23.14 File Archives

A file whose name ends in ‘.tar’ is normally an archive made by the tar program. Emacs views these files in a special mode called Tar mode which provides a Dired-like list of the contents (see section Dired, the Directory Editor). You can move around through the list just as you would in Dired, and visit the subfiles contained in the archive. However, not all Dired commands are available in Tar mode.

If Auto Compression mode is enabled (see section Accessing Compressed Files), then Tar mode is used also for compressed archives—files with extensions ‘.tgz’, .tar.Z and .tar.gz.

The keys e, f and <RET> all extract a component file into its own buffer. You can edit it there, and if you save the buffer, the edited version will replace the version in the Tar buffer. v extracts a file into a buffer in View mode. o extracts the file and displays it in another window, so you could edit the file and operate on the archive simultaneously. d marks a file for deletion when you later use x, and u unmarks a file, as in Dired. C copies a file from the archive to disk and R renames a file within the archive. g reverts the buffer from the archive on disk.

The keys M, G, and O change the file's permission bits, group, and owner, respectively.

If your display supports colors and the mouse, moving the mouse pointer across a file name highlights that file name, indicating that you can click on it. Clicking Mouse-2 on the highlighted file name extracts the file into a buffer and displays that buffer.

Saving the Tar buffer writes a new version of the archive to disk with the changes you made to the components.

You don't need the tar program to use Tar mode—Emacs reads the archives directly. However, accessing compressed archives requires the appropriate uncompression program.

A separate but similar Archive mode is used for archives produced by the programs arc, jar, lzh, zip, and zoo, which have extensions corresponding to the program names. Archive mode also works for those exe files that are self-extracting executables.

The key bindings of Archive mode are similar to those in Tar mode, with the addition of the m key which marks a file for subsequent operations, and M-<DEL> which unmarks all the marked files. Also, the a key toggles the display of detailed file information, for those archive types where it won't fit in a single line. Operations such as renaming a subfile, or changing its mode or owner, are supported only for some of the archive formats.

Unlike Tar mode, Archive mode runs the archiving program to unpack and repack archives. Details of the program names and their options can be set in the ‘Archive’ Customize group. However, you don't need these programs to look at the archive table of contents, only to extract or manipulate the subfiles in the archive.


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