pax [options] [patterns]

Portable Archive Exchange program. When members of the POSIX 1003.2 working group couldn’t standardize on either tar or cpio , they invented this program. (See also cpio and tar.) Note that until native drivers for tape drives exist for Mac OS X, pax can’t write to tape. Note also that pax doesn’t preserve resource forks or HFS metadata when copying files that contain them.

pax operates in four modes, depending on the combinations of -r and -w:

List mode

No -r and no -w. List the contents of a pax archive. Optionally, restrict the output to filenames and/or directories that match a given pattern.

Extract mode

-r only. Extract files from a pax archive. Intermediate directories are created as needed.

Archive mode

-w only. Archive files to a new or existing pax archive. The archive is written to standard output; it may be redirected to an appropriate tape device if needed for backups.

Pass-through mode

-r and -w. Copy a directory tree from one location to another, analogous to cpio -p.


Here are the options available in the four modes:

                     None:       c d f       n     s     v                  U G   T
-r:         c d f i k   n o p s   u v  D         Y Z E U G   T
-w:     a b   d f i       o   s t u v x  H L P X       U G B T
-rw:          d   i k l n   p s t u v  D H L P X Y Z   U G   T

Append files to the archive. This may not work on some tape devices.

-b size

Use size as the blocksize, in bytes, of blocks to be written to the archive.


Complement. Match all file or archive members that don’t match the patterns.


For files or archive ...

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