I have a .deb file that I want to unpack and examine, but not install. I'm currently looking for where i can download dpkg for OSX, but can't find it. If you have a link, please share.


7 Answers 7


ar is already installed on my mac on OS X. So just do

ar -x path/to/deb/file.deb

that's it. No need to install other software.

  • 1
    Users of XCode 4 can run /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/usr/bin/ar.
    – zpletan
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 18:19
  • @zpletan Why not /usr/bin/ar ?
    – topskip
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 20:46
  • 1
    ar comes from XCode (unless you installed it with MacPorts/Homebrew/etc), but XCode 4 comes from the App Store and therefore doesn't install anything in /usr/bin by default. I think you can change it from preferences, but that's the default.
    – zpletan
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 15:58
  • @zpletan I've never installed anything in /usr/bin, so ar must be from the default installation. (Unless I am totally mistaken.)
    – topskip
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 20:09
  • 2
    This doesn’t generally work. I’ve got a .deb file that unpacks beautifully with dpkg but ar fails because it thinks the package contains a different set of folders, with different names, than it actually contains. Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 10:58

You can install dpkg using MacPorts or just download the sources.

  • 1
    Thanks for the reply. This is actually the method I used.
    – Thomas
    Commented Aug 30, 2010 at 20:09

While not OSX specific, if you have Docker for Mac installed, you could use an Ubuntu container to look inside the contents of the package:

docker run -it -v $(pwd):/data ubuntu:latest /bin/bash
dpkg -c /data/foo.deb
  • got a typo in spelling ubuntu though. But I have used your solution. Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 7:30

At least on recent macOS versions, you can also use tar to extract UNIX archives:

tar xf package.deb
  • Yes but is dpkg a Unix archive?
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 1, 2022 at 16:47

if you use MacPorts you can install dpkg and more package (like do it in debian or ubuntu).

after installing Macports go and install dpkg from here.

also you can find more info about dpkg in osx here. (This is now down - I don't know if temporarily or permanently)

  • @Thomas, MacPorts, formerly called DarwinPorts
    – Am1rr3zA
    Commented Aug 30, 2010 at 20:16
  • 6
    DarwinPorts.com is a rip off of MacPorts.org. MacPorts.org used to be at DarwinPorts.org - see trac.macports.org/wiki/DarwinPortsFraud
    – Chealion
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 2:58
brew install dpkg
dpkg -c file.deb # This will give you contents list
dpkg -x file.deb # This will extract
  • 1
    Welcome to Ask Different. If you can explain how this is better than the accepted answer to use a built in command like ar please consider making an edit to elaborate.
    – bmike
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 23:39
docker run -it -v $(pwd):/data ubuntu:latest /bin/bash
# or with fish
# docker run -it -v (pwd):/data ubuntu:latest /bin/bash
cd data
dpkg -x wkhtmltox_0.12.6-1.focal_amd64.deb out
ls out/usr/local/bin/

works well for wkhtmltoimage and wkhtmltopdf

  • This is the same as apple.stackexchange.com/a/418659/237 or if extra information it should be an edit to that
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 1, 2022 at 16:40
  • @mmmmmm it's dpkg -x not dpkg -c
    – Dorian
    Commented May 2, 2022 at 17:18
  • Then I think it would make sense to describe why it is different and the benefit. People shouldn't be copying code without understanding it so an explanation should always be given
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 2, 2022 at 18:12

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