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. RARs even allow users to split and save single files into multiple parts, providing a simple means of creating an archive spanning several mediums.
While zip files can be natively opened on nearly every OS without third-party software, RARs 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.
Here’s our guide on how to open RAR files on Windows and Mac OS X. Also, check out our guide on how to password protect a folder.
Skip ahead to opening RAR files on Mac OS X.
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||.exe||32-bit x86||7-Zip for 32-bit Windows|
|Download||.msi||32-bit x86||7-Zip for 32-bit Windows|
|Download||.msi||64-bit x64||7-Zip for 64-bit Windows x64 (Intel 64 or AMD64)|
|Download||.msi||IA-64||7-Zip for IA-64 Itanium CPU|
|Download||.exe||ARM||7-Zip for Windows Mobile / Windows CE (ARM)|
|Download||.zip||32-bit||7-Zip Command Line Version|
|Download||.tar.bz2||Any||7-Zip Source code|
|Download||.7z||31-bit||7z Library, SFXs for installers, Plugin for FAR Manager|
|Download||.tar.bz2||Any||LZMA SDK (C, C++, C#, Java)|
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.
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 top 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 of the window.
Unarchiver easily trumps the built-in archive unpacker program in Mac OS X — the aptly-titled Archive Utility — touting support for a greater number of file formats and offering additional functionality more akin to 7-Zip than other available offerings on the Web. Though Unarchiver also lacks the ability to create RAR files, it still allows you to open RARs with just a few steps.
Step 1: Download, install and launch Unarchiver — Navigate to the Unarchiver download page and click the dark-gray Download button on the right-hand side of the page prior to selecting a save location for the resulting zip file. Afterward, extract the file and launch the program.
Step 3: Extract and open the archive — Once opened, ensure the box directly left of RAR Archive is checked — along with any other archive types you wish to open with the Unarchiver — and click the Extraction tab located at the top of the application window. Afterward, select your save location for the resulting file from the drop-down menu near the top of the window, control-click the RAR file you wish to open, and choose the Unarchiver from the drop-down menu beside the Open With option.
The utility will then automatically create and save a file with same name as the RAR file in the previously-specified location. Then, simply double-click the RAR file to launch the file in the appropriate program.
What do you think of our quick guide on how to open RAR files? Do you need further guidance or have an better, alternate method? Let us know in the comments below.