What Is a BZ2 File?

How to open, edit, & convert BZ2 files

A file with the BZ2 file extension is a BZIP2 Compressed file. They're normally used only on Unix-based systems for software distribution.

BZ2 is often the compression used for popular file containers that don't support compression (like TAR files), so they may have a name like data.tar.bz2. Others that are holding compressed PNG image files, for example, might be named something similar like image.png.bz2.

A CPU that supports multi-threading can benefit from the upgraded PBZIP2 file compressor.

How to Open a BZ2 File

BZ2 files can be opened with most popular compression/decompression programs. Of them, PeaZip is a good choice because it fully supports the format. This means it can open the file as well as compress one using the BZIP2 compression method to make a BZ2 file.

BZ2 file open in PeaZip

BZ2 archives can contain only one file, so if you're wanting to put multiple files into one, you have to wrap them in another archive format such as TAR.

Apple's Archive Utility can open BZ2 files on a Mac for free, as can The Unarchiver. Some other BZ2 openers for macOS include Incredible Bee's Archiver and Corel's WinZip, though neither are free to use past the trial.

Another option that works on all operating systems is B1 Online Archiver. It can open BZ2 files online in your web browser; no software download necessary.

You can use the free RAR app from RARLAB to open BZ2 files on an Android device. iOS users can install Zip Browser on iPhone or iPad.

Linux systems can extract the contents of the archive without any external software. Use this command in a terminal, but replace file.bz2 with your own file:

bzip2 -dk file.bz2

This command will keep the original file on your computer. Use bzip2 -d file.bz2 to have the original deleted after the extraction.

Files that are stored in a TAR file, but compressed with BZIP2, can be extracted with this command (again, replacing file.tar.bz2 according to the name of your own file):

tar xvjf file.tar.bz2

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the file but it's the wrong application or you'd rather have another installed program open it, see our How to Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for making that change in Windows.

How to Convert a BZ2 File

The easiest way to convert this file to another archive format is to use one of the options from this list of Free File Converters for Occasionally Used Formats.

FileZigZag is one example that runs in your browser to convert BZ2 to GZ, ZIP, TAR, GZIP, TBZ, TGZ, 7Z, and other similar formats. Just upload the file to that website and choose which format to convert it to. You then have to download the converted file back to your computer before you can use it.

BZ2 conversion at FileZigZag

AnyToISO can be used to convert TAR.BZ2 files to ISO.

Since BZ2 files are archives, it means they're not in a "regular" format like PDF, MP4, TXT, CSV, etc. This means that you can't convert to one of those formats (i.e., BZ2 to TXT).

However, if you have a BZ2 file that contains one of those files, you can easily convert one to a new format by just extracting it out of the archive first, with a file extractor like PeaZip. Finally, you can use a file converter on the TXT file (or whatever file you're working with) to save it to a new format.

If you're looking to do the reverse, and compress something like a BSP (Quake Engine Game Map) file to a BZ2 file, you can use the same file compression tool (like PeaZip). If you need help, TF2Maps.net has a great tutorial on compressing BSP to BZ2.

Still Can't Open It?

If the file won't open after trying the suggestions above, the most likely reason is that you're not actually dealing with a BZ2 file. It's easy to do this if you've misread the file extension.

For example, BZZ is a similar extension but it has nothing to do with an archive. Those are instead project files created by a program called BuzzBundle. Attempting to open one with the archive openers above will probably result in an error.

BZA is another, but it, confusingly, is an archive and so it might be usable with the same programs described above. Files using that extension are created by IZArc.

  • Can 7ZIP open BZ2 files?

    Yes. Most programs that can open ZIP files, including 7ZIP and WinRAR, can extract BZ2 files.

  • How do I create a BZ2 file?

    You can only create BZ2 files in Linux. After installing BZ2 with the sudo command, use the syntax $ bzip2 filename.

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