How to Open or Extract RAR Files on Windows and Mac

Have you ever downloaded a file from the Internet only to find that you can’t open it due to the strange .rar extension? This is because your computer cannot open this file format by default.

RAR is a compressed file format that allows you to download and transfer large amounts of data from one computer to another. However, special software is required to access the data within RAR archive files. Here’s everything you need to know about how to open or extract RAR files on Windows or Mac.

What is a RAR file? 

A RAR file, short for Roshal Archive Compressed File, is a compressed file that may contain one or more other files or folders within it. It’s an analog of your regular folder on your computer where you keep more files and data, only it doesn’t take up as much storage space.

The only downside to a RAR file is that before you can access the files inside it, you need to open the RAR file and extract its contents. That’s why you need special software.

Normally you will come across a RAR file when you download something from the internet. For example from a file sharing website or when you download computer software. Using RAR files helps to keep file sizes small which in turn allows for faster downloads. You may also come across RAR files which are split into parts. This is also done to simplify the download process.

How to open or extract RAR files on Windows

There are many applications that you can use to open and extract RAR files on Windows. Depending on your goals, you may end up choosing a different app. However, we recommend that you narrow your choice to two applications: WinRAR or 7-Zip.

Use WinRAR to create, open, and extract RAR files on Windowsopen a RAR file using WinRAR

WinRAR is the default option when it comes to software for opening RAR files. It was made by the developers of the RAR file format. Besides manipulating your RAR files, it also allows you to create your own RAR files and even encrypt them.

After installing the software, you don’t need to do anything else. Find your RAR file and double-click to open it and extract its contents. In addition to helping you open and extract RAR files, WinRAR also allows you to create and open ZIP archives, as well as other archive formats. This is the only tool that can do it all when it comes to archives. The only problem with this app is that you have to buy it for around $ 40 before you can use it.

Use 7-Zip to open and extract RAR files on Windowshow to Extract a RAR file

If you don’t need extended functionality and just want an app that allows you to open and extract RAR files on Windows, you can use a free and open source analog of WinRAR – 7-Zip.

To get started with 7-Zip, you need to download the software from the website and install it on your Windows computer. Later, you can double-click on any RAR file to open it and extract its contents. You can do this with or without opening the 7-Zip app first. To extract the contents of your RAR file, right-click and select 7-Zip > Extract.

How to open or extract RAR files on Mac

Mac has a native program hidden in a system folder called Archive Utility that allows you to create compressed files and manage various archives. However, it doesn’t give you much control over the process. Also, it can only handle a limited amount of archive formats.

If you need to extract RAR files on Mac, one of the best options is The Unarchiver. This app allows you to create, open, and extract RAR files, as well as almost any other type of archive format on your computer. Compared to the archive utility, The Unarchiver is a comprehensive tool that gives you additional features when it comes to unzipping your archives.

While The Unarchiver cannot be used to create RAR files, it makes it easier to unlock and extract RAR files. After downloading the app for free, you can double-click the RAR file to open and extract its contents.

How to open or extract RAR files online

Another method you can use to open or extract RAR files on your computer is to use the free web-based tool Unzip-Online. It is an online file extraction website that you can access from any web browser, regardless of the operating system running on your computer. Unzip-Online is the perfect alternative for those who don’t want to install any additional software for extracting RAR to open a RAR file using un-zip online

Unzip-Online supports RAR, ZIP, 7Z, and TAR archive formats. To extract RAR files, open the tool in your browser and select Browse. Locate the RAR file on your computer and select Open. Then select Unzip File. The uncompressed files will be displayed on the screen and you can then save them to your computer.

How to open password protected RAR files

When trying to open a RAR file you may find that it is protected with a password and you cannot unpack it. This is especially annoying if you are the one who decided to password protect your files and then forgot the password.

If you can’t remember the correct password, you can try using a RAR password cracker to access your files. A good example of such an app is RAR Password Cracker Expert. It’s a free app that you can program to use both brute force and a dictionary attack to try all your options for cracking the password. However, be aware that decrypting a password-protected RAR file is a difficult task and may take a long time.

Time to start unpacking

Using archives is a great way to save space on your device or to reduce file download time. At the same time, not being able to access hidden files in an archive can be frustrating. With the knowledge of this article, you should be able to open a RAR file on your computer no matter what operating system you are using. 

Do you use RAR files regularly? What software do you use to open or extract RAR files? Share your experience with unzipping RAR files in the comment section below.

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