Chromebooks are now more advanced than ever. You can now open compressed archive files in Chrome OS. Here’s how.
While you may think of Chromebooks as devices that access the web, they also have the added ability to manage local files. Chromebooks with Chrome OS versions 101 and higher can now open several common Linux file formats: ISO, TAR, and ZIP.
Here’s how you can open and use such files on your Chromebook.
How to Open ISO Files on Chromebooks
The ISO file format is familiar to Linux users as the main way to distribute disk images of Linux distributions. You can download, mount, and inspect contents in Chrome OS’s Files app.
Download the ISO from the website as you normally would. In this case, the Debian installation image is downloaded. Debian is the same distro that is installed by default when you set up a Linux environment on a Chromebook.
Double click the file and it will be mounted just like an optical drive or USB stick. You can browse through directories as if you were accessing another drive.
If you have a Linux environment installed on a Chromebook, you can also explore the mounted ISO from the command line. Right-click (or press the trackpad with two fingers) and click “Share with Linux.” ISO files show below /mnt/chromeos/archive, followed by the ISO name. Then you can use standard Linux commands on the directory structure.
In the Files application and on the command line, you cannot change files, only read them.
To unmount it, click “throw outbutton next to a mounted image in the Files app.
Access TAR files on Chrome OS
TAR files are another archive format widely used in Linux for software distribution and backup. You can also mount these in files similar to ISO files. Although GZipped TAR files are common, you still can’t open them with files.
To do it on a Chromebook, you need to share the directory in which the file is located with Linux and use the tar command to extract it from the command line:
tar -xvzf archive.tar
Opening 7-Zip Files on Chromebooks
7-Zip files, or “.7z” files, are an alternative to standard ZIP files that offer an even higher level of compression, thus saving space. Chrome OS has long supported ZIP files, and 7Z files work similarly to the methods shown above. Just double click and you can mount them. Like ISO and TAR files, 7-zip files are read-only.
With more native storage options, Chrome OS is becoming a true operating system
Although Chrome OS is focused on the cloud, with the ability to open ISO, TAR, and 7-Zip files locally, Chrome OS is becoming more than just a glorified browser like it was in the early days. It is evolving into a viable alternative to Windows and macOS. These new file formats add the ability to connect to optical and USB drives on Chromebooks.