Instead of giving the names of files or archive members on the command
line, you can put the names into a file, and then use the
--files-from=file-of-names (-T file-of-names) option to tar. Give the name of the file
which contains the list of files to include as the argument to
--files-from. In the list, the file names should be separated by
newlines. You will frequently use this option when you have generated
the list of files to archive with the find utility.
-T file name
Get names to extract or create from file file name.
If you give a single dash as a file name for --files-from, (i.e.,
you specify either --files-from=- or -T -), then the file
names are read from standard input.
Unless you are running tar with --create, you can not use
both --files-from=- and --file=- (-f -) in the same
Any number of -T options can be given in the command line.
The following example shows how to use find to generate a list of
files smaller than 400K in length and put that list into a file
called small-files. You can then use the -T option to
tar to specify the files from that file, small-files, to
create the archive little.tgz. (The -z option to
tar compresses the archive with gzip; see gzip for
In the file list given by -T option, any file name beginning
with ‘-’ character is considered a tar option and is
processed accordingly.1 For example,
the common use of this feature is to change to another directory by
specifying -C option:
$ cat list
$ tar -c -f foo.tar --files-from list
In this example, tar will first switch to /etc
directory and add files passwd and hosts to the
archive. Then it will change to /lib directory and will archive
the file libc.a. Thus, the resulting archive foo.tar will
$ tar tf foo.tar
Notice that the option parsing algorithm used with -T is
stricter than the one used by shell. Namely, when specifying option
arguments, you should observe the following rules:
When using short (single-letter) option form, its argument must
immediately follow the option letter, without any intervening
whitespace. For example: -Cdir.
When using long option form, the option argument must be separated
from the option by a single equal sign. No whitespace is allowed on
any side of the equal sign. For example: --directory=dir.
For both short and long option forms, the option argument can be given
on the next line after the option name, e.g.:
If you happen to have a file whose name starts with ‘-’,
precede it with --add-file option to prevent it from
being recognized as an option. For example: --add-file --my-file.