“Show Package Contents” Unavailable? Extract .pkg Files Without Installing Them

Sep 26, 2011 - 6 Comments

Extract Package (.pkg) file contents without installing them in Mac OS X

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:
  • 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/
    Extract package files

  • Go to the outputs path in the Finder and check out the extracted files

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.

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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Parakeet says:

    Try Pacifist for a GUI option

  2. Andrew says:

    Pacifist website states that at present, it is *not* compatible with OS X 10.7, but an update is in the pipeline.

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  4. […] “Show Package Contents” Unavailable? Extract .pkg Files Without …Sep 26, 2011 … Extract .pkg Files Without Installing Them. … Extract Package (.pkg) file contents without installing them in Mac OS X. Continuing on with the … […]

  5. […] to grab a file out of a .pkg file? Maybe you want to see what’s inside of a pkg without installing it? No sweat, pkgutil does the […]

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