“Show Package Contents” Unavailable? Extract .pkg Files Without Installing Them
Continuing on with the theme of inspecting the contents of app installers, you can also extract package files and sort through their contents without actually installing them. To do this, you can often just right-click on a pkg file and select “Show Package Contents” – but that isn’t always displayed. Assuming that option is unavailable, we can extract .pkg files using a command line tool called pkgutil that is bundled with OS X:
- Launch Terminal (in /Applications/Utilities/)
- Use the following syntax:
- Go to the outputs path in the Finder and check out the extracted files
pkgutil --expand /path/to/package.pkg /output/destination/
Hint: recall that you can drag & drop items into the Terminal to print their full path, making this tip easier by typing: pkgutil –expand [drop file here] /destination/path/
You’ll notice that some package files contain even more package files, quickly leading you into a deeply nested package extraction process. Other than that, this is an excellent way to see what’s contained within packages, particularly the ones where the alt-click “Show Package Contents” option isn’t available, which is increasingly common in Mac OS X Lion, although ultimately it depends on how the package was constructed.