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How to open RAR files

Knowing how to open RAR files can be a useful skill if you're regularly downloading different drives, files, and applications from third-party websites. Unlike zip files, RAR files aren't natively supported by Windows, so you'll need an application specifically designed to handle them. 

Our favorite programs for opening RAR files are 7-Zip on Windows and The Unarchiver on MacOS. Here's how to use them to open RAR files.

7-Zip (Windows)

Step 1: Download 7-Zip from the official website. If you’re running the latest version of Windows 10, chances are you want the 64-bit version, but it’s a good idea to confirm which version of Windows you’re running first.

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.

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Step 2: Locate the RAR file that you want to open in Windows File Explorer, then right-click it, and select Open With > 7-Zip.

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Step 3: With the RAR file now open, you have a number of options for what you can do with it. You can access individual files within the RAR archive by double-clicking them, or navigate through folders in the same way to dig deeper into the RAR file.

If you want to be able to access the files within the RAR archive more easily in the future, you can also click the Extract button and select a save location. The RAR file will then be extracted, leaving all of its components files and folders accessible through the Windows File Explorer.

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The Unarchiver (MacOS)

Zipping up files on MacOS is an essential feature of the operating system, but you need to be able to unpack them, too. Apple has a native tool for uncompressing files by just clicking on them, but it’s a streamlined option that doesn’t allow any control over the process. For those seeking a complete tool, we suggest another option.

An oldie but a goodie, Unarchiver easily trumps the built-in archive unpacker that comes with MacOS — aka the aptly titled Archive Utility. The program touts support for a more significant number of file formats, including RAR files, and offers additional functionality more akin to 7-Zip than other available offerings on the web. Though Unarchiver cannot create RAR files, it still allows you to open RARs with just a few steps.

Step 1: Download Unarchiver from the official site, or head over to the App Store to download the application. Afterward, extract the file and launch the program.

Step 2: Once opened, ensure the box beside 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.

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Step 3: The utility will then automatically create and save a file with the same name as the RAR file in the previously specified location. Then, simply double-click the RAR file to launch it in the appropriate program.

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