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How do I view .cbr or cbz files (FAQ)

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Geo (RIP):
(This FAQ was originally posted by Serj, thought it would be good to be posted up here too)

Question "How do I READ these files after I've downloaded them?"
Answer - Read part 3 below if you are in a hurry.

Table of Contents (TOC)
1. Digital Comics
2. What are CBR, CBZ, CBT, RAR, ZIP and TAR files?
3. How do I view these files (read comics)?
4. What's so good about the CDisplay/Comical/FFView programs?
5. How do I make my own CBR, CBZ or CBT files?

1. Digital Comics

The comics that we read are digital pictures of the original physical comics. The pictures are placed in a directory and are in a certain sequence based on the name of the picture file. The file is compressed into a computer archive and computer software can be used to read these picture archives.


2. What are CBR, CBZ, CBT, RAR, ZIP and TAR files?

Computer files are generally compressed into archive data sets to save space and to organize information better. Common archive formats are RAR, ZIP and TAR. Comics have a “special” set of extensions to designate them as “comics”. CBR, CBZ and TAR files are comic archive files. A CBR file is the same as an RAR file, CBZ the same as a ZIP file, and CBT the same as a TAR file. The designations allow computers to associate comic reading software with files and allow other non-comic products to use the standard extensions.

The ZIP format takes one or more files and compresses them as one file, with a .zip file extension. The RAR format does the same (and has better compression sometimes).

The TAR format is found primarily on UNIX and Linux operating systems; it can be used on Windows and Mac platforms, although the ZIP format has become the most popular. (Most users are not familiar with .tar files.) The .tar file bundles files together, although without any compression. If a user wishes to compress them, they are advised to use gzip (which turns the compressed file into *.tar.gz ) .

Software programs for making/opening/viewing the contents of these .zip, .rar and .tar files can be found on the Internet.


3. How do I view these files (read comics)?

There is a plethora of software to read digital comics. The most popular no-cost software is listed at the top of each operating system group.


* CDisplay, the Windows Sequential Image Viewer for Windows by David Dayton.
Available here:   or here:

* pixelComic, a skinnable comic book viewer written in C++.
Available here:

* CBViewer
Available here:

For a list of other viewers as well as how they work try here -


* cbrPager: a simple comic pager for Linux (using GTK+)
Available here:

* QComicBook (using Qt)
Available here:

* Comical, the UNIX, Linux and MacOS X Sequential Image Viewer (using wxWidgets)
Available here:

* PyComicsViewer, for Linux and Windows
Available here:

* CBView, written in GTK2-perl
Available here:

* Asparagino's Comic Viewer
Available here:

Try Perfect Viewer -
Available here:

Mac OSX:

* FFView
Available here:

* Comic Book Viewer
Available here:

* Jomic (written in Java, so should be cross-platform as well)
Availabe here:

* Comical (Open Source Platform)
Available here:

These are free software image viewing programs designed specifically for reading digital comic book files, particularly those in .cbr and .cbz formats (and .rar and .zip formats, if they haven't had their file extensions changed to .cbr and .cbz yet).


4. What's so good about these digital comic viewing programs?

They're a great way of viewing image archives, including various options which are optimised for digital comics!


5. How do I make my own CBR, CBZ and CBT files?

Place all comic scans into a folder and rename them in page order, eg. 001 002 003 and then archive the files using WinZip, WinRAR or other compression software. Now just rename them with the different extentions. Remember .zip files are .cbz; .rar files are .cbr; and .tar files are .cbt. (Viewers, like CDisplay, can read .all of these file formats, among other extensions, but the de facto standard has become .cbz and .cbr. We recommend you use these two formats.)

You can rename a *.cbz file to a *.cbr file and CDisplay will still view it, although it isn't recommended. (This might be because WinRAR can read both .zip and .rar files.) Please stick to the original file format/extension name, especially if you're distributing files via DC++ and/or Bit Torrent.

Also, if you are using WinRAR to rar images into an archive for CDisplay to view, you can just rename the extension from *.rar to *.cbr before you actually start the archiving process.


Thanks again Geo!

Unfortunately, it seems like the recommended viewers for Windows machines in this FAQ are all out of date or not working for Windows 7.

Is there some (free) viewer that people can recommend that does work for Windows 7?

(I normally look at .cbr and .cbz files on my Mac, but am house-sitting for a friend who has a PC.)

Sorry P, no clue but if you find something say on Google please come back and let us know.  A link would be great too, I can add it to the FAQ.

Good luck!

John C:
Remember, at the most primitive, you can always extract the files from the archive (ZIP automatically, RAR with third-party software) and use the local image viewers to read through.  It's not necessarily optimal if you're used to the specialized software, but it should work well enough.


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