zcat - decompress and concatenate files to standard output


zcat [options] [files]


zcat copies each file argument to standard output in sequence. If any file given is compressed, its decompressed content is copied. If a file given does not exist, and its name does not end with one of the known extensions, zcat tries the compressed file names corresponding to the formats supported until one is found. If a file fails to decompress, zcat continues copying the rest of the files.

If a file is specified as ’-’, data are read from standard input, decompressed if needed, and sent to standard output. Data read from standard input must be of the same type; all uncompressed or all in the same compressed format.

If no files are specified, recursive searches examine the current working directory, and nonrecursive searches read standard input.

The formats supported are bzip2, gzip, lzip, xz, and zstd.

Exit status is 0 if no errors occurred, 1 otherwise.


-h, --help

display this help and exit

-V, --version

output version information and exit

-A, --show-all

equivalent to ’-vET’

-b, --number-nonblank

number nonblank output lines


equivalent to ’-vE’

-E, --show-ends

display ’$’ at end of each line

-M, --format=<list>

process only the formats in <list>

-n, --number

number all output lines

-N, --no-rcfile

don’t read runtime configuration file

-O, --force-format=<fmt>

force the input format

-q, --quiet

suppress all messages

-r, --recursive

operate recursively on directories

-R, --dereference-recursive

recursively follow symbolic links

-s, --squeeze-blank

never more than one single blank line


equivalent to ’-vT’

-T, --show-tabs

display TAB characters as ’^I’

-v, --show-nonprinting

use ’^’ and ’M-’ notation, except for LF and TAB


verbose mode (show error messages)


set compressor and options for bzip2 format


set compressor and options for gzip format


set compressor and options for lzip format


set compressor and options for xz format


set compressor and options for zstd format

Valid formats for options ’-M’ and ’-O’ are ’bz2’, ’gz’, ’lz’, ’xz’, ’zst’, and ’un’ for uncompressed.


Report bugs to zutils-bug [AT]
Zutils home page:


Copyright © 2024 Antonio Diaz Diaz. License GPLv2+: GNU GPL version 2 or later <>;
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.


The full documentation for zcat is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If the info and zcat programs are properly installed at your site, the command

info zutils

should give you access to the complete manual.