Here’s a quick tip on storing a number of files into a single archive file quickly and easily in Ubuntu. The instructions will also work for those who use other distros as long as they are using Gnome and Nautilus.

  1. Load up Nautilus (Places > Home Folder)
  2. Copy all the files you want to store in the archive to a single location. For example, I’ll often copy all the files and folders that I want to add to my home folder first.
  3. Highlight all the files to be included in the archive. You can select files and folders one at a time by holding down the Ctrl key while clicking on the desired file/folder.
  4. Right-click one of the highlighted files and select “Create Archive…”
  5. Name the archive and click “Create”.

Depending on the size of the files that you’ve selected, you’ll soon have a new zip file sitting in the folder where the source files are located.

Advanced Options

You might have noticed that there are a number of options on the Create Archive dialog. I’ll briefly describe each one.

  • The archive type drop-down allows you to select between a number of different archive types: ar, cbr, cbz, jar, rar, tar, tar.bz2, tar.gz, tar.lzma, and zip. I’ve linked each archive type with a page that describes the format in more detail.
  • The “Location” option allows you to specify the location where the created archive is stored.
  • Some archive types (cbr, cbz, rar, and zip) allow you to set a password that encrypts the archive contents and only allows access if the password is provided. Note that the encryption strength varies with the format, see the format documentation for details on the strength and weaknesses of its form of encryption.
  • The “Encrypt the file list too” option takes advantage of the rar file format’s ability to not only encypt the contents of the archive file, but the name of the files contained in the archive as well. This option is only available for the rar and cbr archive types.
  • You can split the resulting archive into a series of files that all have a max size specified by the “Split in volumes of …” option. Again, this is a rar-specific option and is only available for the rar and cbr archive types. This option is useful if you need to send a file larger than the maximum size allowed by email attachment or a storage location on the web.

An important thing to know about the different archive options is that not all of them compress the file contents to make them smaller. Some of the options merely put all the files together into a single file and don’t reduce the space taken at all. If you wish to compress the contents of the archive, do not use the ar or tar formats as they only archive the files and do not compress them.

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