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Have a .RAR file? Here’s how to get that sucker open

Although you’re more likely to encounter a ZIP file than a RAR file in your everyday activities, the latter has numerous advantages over the former, offering everything from a higher level of compression to comprehensive support for error recovery. RAR files even allow users to split and save single files into multiple parts, providing a simple means of creating an archive that spans several mediums.

Related: Have a file that’s too big for email? Here’s how to share it for free

However, while ZIP files can be opened in nearly every operating system without third-party software, RAR files require external software to use. Windows users can always purchase the premium WinRAR application to open the files — the file archiver initially built in conjunction with the proprietary format — but most users will likely want to snag one of several free offerings on the web with RAR support and built-in functionality.

Using 7-Zip (Windows)

Step 1: Download, install and launch 7-Zip — Navigate to the 7-Zip download page and select the download link corresponding to your desired version of the software. Alternatively, select your desired version of 7-Zip from the table below, or simply download the latest standard executable file. When in the installer, select your desired destination folder for the utility and click the Install button in the bottom-right corner of the window. Click the Finish button when done and launch the program.

Download Link Type Windows Description
Download .exe 32-bit x86 7-Zip for 32-bit Windows
Download .exe 64-bit x64 7-Zip for 64-bit Windows x64 (Intel 64 or AMD64)
Download .7z x86 / x64 7-Zip Extra: standalone console version, 7z DLL, Plugin for Far Manager
Download .7z Any 7-Zip Source code
Download .7z Any / x86 / x64 LZMA SDK: (C, C++, C#, Java)
Download .msi 32-bit x86 (alternative MSI installer) 7-Zip for 32-bit Windows
Download .msi 64-bit x64 (alternative MSI installer) 7-Zip for 64-bit Windows x64 (Intel 64 or AMD64)

Step 2: Open the file in 7-Zip — Once opened, locate the RAR file you wish to open within the main 7-Zip interface. To do so, peruse the resulting folder directly and double-click the RAR file to access the contents of the file. Alternatively, right-click said file and select the Open option near the top of the resulting drop-down menu.

Open Rar in 7-Zip

Step 3: Open or copy the file — Now simply double-click the RAR file to launch the file in the appropriate program, or if you wish to save the save the file elsewhere on your computer, highlight the file in question and click the Copy button housed beneath the navigation bar. Afterward, select a save location for the file in the pop-up window, and click the gray OK button in the bottom-right corner.

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Need an alternative? Try RAR Opener

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Who doesn’t like having alternatives? While 7-Zip remains an excellent tool for opening RAR files, there are other solutions available for those looking to streamline the process. RAR Opener, a free download available on the Microsoft Store, is the perfect example. The app is a very basic, plugin-like tool with a few big blue buttons to both pack and unpack RAR files. It’s also directly integrated with Windows 10, and is a great pick if you need to deal with RAR, ZIP, TAR, LZH, and other file formats.

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