Extract Installer and Package Files in Mac OS X Easily with Pacifist
Pacifist is a powerful Mac OS X utility that gives you full access to package and installer files and their contents, without running the installer itself. Using Pacifist, you can open installers, find out what is in them, discover what is going to be installed and where, and best of all, extract individual apps, files, and folders directly out of them.
Beyond package (.pkg) files, Pacifist will also read and extract from .dmg, .zip, .tar, .tar.gz, .tar.bz2, .xar, and even Mac OS X Installer apps. There are plenty of troubleshooting and trick situations where this would be valuable. For example, if you have a Mac OS X Snow Leopard DVD laying around you could use Pacifist to extract the Preview.app and necessary files from the OS X 10.6 installer without running through the OS installation itself. This would let you use our recent tip to run the old version of Preview in OS X Lion, despite not having Snow Leopard actually installed anywhere.
Pacifist is free to download as shareware, and it’s well worth the $20 to add to an advanced Mac users toolkit.
For casual users, you may be want to remember that some of the features in Pacifist are bundled into OS X already, albeit on a more limited basis. The OS X Installer has a little used ability to see what and where files will be installed, and the command line tool pkgutil lets you extract .pkg files contents, but neither is as full featured as Pacifist, and certainly not as user friendly or as flexible.