How To Open RAR Files On Windows & Mac (RAR Extractor)

This Hands-on Tutorial Explains What are .RAR Files and how to Open RAR Files. You will also learn about RAR File Opener Tools:

Each of us might have come across the file format .RAR at some point of time. RAR file formats are useful when we wish to transfer large files over the internet.

We will see the usefulness of the RAR file format, how can we create a RAR file, and also learn how they can be opened while using various operating systems. Towards the end of this tutorial, we will take a look at some of the FAQ’s related to the .RAR files.

Open RAR Files

What Is A .RAR File

It is an archive file format that was developed by a Russian software engineer named Eugene Roshal. RAR stands for (R)Roshal (AR)Archive.

You might wonder what is special about this file format when compared to the other common formats that most of us know about Example doc, txt, pdf, or the other archive formats like Zip, 7S to name a few. There are a lot of other things that make this format quite useful.

Let’s look at them:

  • It allows multiple files to be bundled together, thereby avoiding the hassle when multiple files have to be shared. Thus using the RAR format, multiple files can be grouped and sent in one go, instead of sending one file at a time.
  • This file type compresses the data, thereby reducing the file size during transfer. This in turn makes the file transfer process faster.
  • It supports the error recovery mechanism wherein the chance of data loss is greatly reduced.
  • As the RAR files are encrypted, it is thus a more secure way of sharing files from the source to destination.

The below points are worth noting here:

  • The minimum size of a RAR file is 20 bytes and it allows a maximum size of (2^63 – 1) bytes which is equal to 9,223,372,036,854,775,807!!
  • RAR format for windows is command-line based.
  • Windows GUI version of the RAR file format is WinRAR.

How To Create A RAR File

Creating a RAR file depends on the Operating System that you are using.

Enlisted below is the list of software required to create a RAR file for some of the commonly used Operating System.

Operating SystemSoftware to create RAR file (Licensed)
Mac RAR (command-line), SimplyRAR (GUI-based)
LinuxRAR (command-line)
MS-DOSRAR (command-line)

The Licensed software generally has a trial version that can be downloaded for a specific number of days before it is purchased and used.

Once you have the Licensed/Trial software downloaded, you would have to install it on your system to create a RAR file. Ahead in this tutorial, we will be demonstrating how to download, install, and use WINRAR (Trial version) to create a RAR file in the Windows 10 operating system.

We shall also cover the steps for using WINZIP to create RAR files on Mac OS.

Creating A RAR File On Windows OS

To create a RAR file on Windows OS, we need to have a supported software installed on our system. WINRAR is the GUI version for Windows to create a RAR file. Let’s begin by installing WINRAR on our system, described below are the steps for your reference.

Downloading WINRAR

#1) Open WinRAR and click Download WINRAR button.

Downloading WINRAR

#2) Click the ‘Download WINRAR’ button on the next screen.

Click the Download WINRAR button

#3) As indicated on the screen, click RUN and then click YES on the pop up displayed to begin the download of WINRAR.

Click RUN and then click YES

#4) On the pop up displayed, choose the Destination folder by using the ‘Browse’ button. It is the location where the software would be saved.

#5) Now click ‘Install’. Clicking ‘Install’ means accepting the End User License Agreement (EULA) and proceeding to install the software.

Click Install to install software

#6) Click ‘OK’ on the next screen.

Click Ok_ Installation Screen

#7) Once installed successfully, you would get the below screen. Click ‘Done’.

WINRAR installation complete

This completes the installation process of WINRAR on Windows 10. We have WINRAR installed on our system, now, let’s take a look at how we can create a RAR archive file/folder.

Creating A RAR File/Folder

Now, we have installed WINRAR on our system, let’s try to archive a set of 3 files. In the below example, we have 3-word docs named “Work1”, ‘Work2” and “Work3”. These files are located at “This PC > Desktop > Work Records’ on the system.

Please follow the below steps to see how a RAR file/folder can be created:

#1) Open Windows Explorer and go to the folder location that contains the files that need to be converted to RAR format. In our case, it is ‘This PC > Desktop > Work Records’

Work Records

#2) Now select all the 3 files (Shift + Click) and right-click to get the menu options. Select the option “Add to Work Records.rar”. This will create a RAR folder grouping all the three selected files in a folder named “Work records.rar” (the same name as the folder in which the three files are currently placed).

Add to Work Records.rar

#3) On selecting this option “Work Records.rar” file is generated and placed in the same location as the current files.

Work Records File

#4) In the list we have some more options that can be used to create a RAR file- “Add to archive…”, “Compress and email…” and “Compress to ‘Work Records.rar’ and email”.

More options that can be used to create a RAR file

#5) In case we need to change the name and location of the RAR file that we are creating then the “Add to archive…” option can be used. We get the below screen when this option is selected.

Archive name and parameters

  • Browse button can be used to select the location where the RAR file is to be saved.
  • Archive-name can be used to change the name of the RAR file which is otherwise set to the name of the current file/folder location.
  • Archive format can be selected as RAR (as selected by default).
  • OK – when clicked creates and saves the RAR file.

#6) In a scenario where we want to directly create and email a RAR file then the option “Compress to ‘Work Records.rar’ and email” or “Compress and email…” can be used.

Thus, so far we have seen how we can create a RAR file using the WINRAR on Windows.

WINRAR – Key Facts

  • WINRAR software is available for 32 bit as well as 64 bit Windows operating system.
  • It might surprise you that WINRAR also supports other archive formats like ZIP, 7-Zip, TAR, GZIP to name a few. This means that if you have WINRAR on your system then the mentioned formats can be un-archived using WINRAR.
  • WINRAR is available in a number of different languages and for various versions of Windows too.
  • WINRAR is a paid software, however, its trial version is available for a 40 days period after which, if required, we can purchase its licensed version.

Creating A RAR File On Mac OS

Although, Mac operating system has Apple’s Archive Utility tool that enables decompressing archived formats like ZIP, GZIP, TAR, etc. It, however, does not have inbuilt support for un-archiving the RAR files.

As in the case of Windows OS, WINRAR is also available for Mac OS but only as a command-line software. There is no GUI version available for WINRAR to access it on Mac OS. Due to the command line (Terminal) version, RAR or Mac lacks user-friendliness. Thus using RAR for Mac is not popular.

In fact, there is very little support in terms of the software available when it comes to creating a RAR file on Mac. SimplyRAR is an open-source utility (GUI based) that can be used to create RAR files on a Mac OS.

However, it is to be noted that the developers of this Utility are no longer providing any support as they probably are not in business anymore.

Follow The Below Steps To download SimplyRAR:

  • Open SimplyRAR and click the Free Download link.

To download SimplyRAR

  • Once downloaded, install the software on the system.
  • After the installation is completed, open the utility program.
  • Drag the file(s) or folder that is to be converted to RAR format into the utility program window.
  • Now click the CREATE RAR button.
  • When prompted, select the desired location to Save the RARed file/folder.
  • Now click OK.
Utility/ApplicationCostTrial VersionSupported OSCreates archive formatWebsite for Download
WINRAR/RAR$30.35/Free for AndroidAvailableWindows, Mac, Linux, Android, FreeBSDRAR, ZIPRARLAB
SimplyRAROpen SourceNAMacRARSimplyRAR

How To Open RAR Files

Just as the software is needed to create a RAR file similarly an external software is required in order to open a RAR file. Neither of the operating systems has inbuilt support for opening the RAR file with the exception of Chrome OS.

Moving ahead with this tutorial, we will take a look at the software availability to open a RAR file on Windows and Mac OS.

There is various software available to open a RAR file. The software available to open a RAR file is both commercial (licensed) as well as open-source (freeware). In this topic, we shall take a look at both the types of software i.e. the license and the freeware.

Unlike as for creating a RAR file, there are a number of Licensed and Open source software available to open a RAR file. We will see how to open a RAR file using WINRAR on Windows operating system in detail. Further, we shall also take a look at the process of opening a RAR file on the Mac operating system.

After a lot of research and analysis, we have listed below the various utility software and the operating system they can be used for your quick reference. The table also helps you to compare the cost of various utilities along with the file format it supports. The link for their respective downloads has also been mentioned there.

Utility/ApplicationCostTrial VersionSupported OSOpens archive format
WINRAR$30.35AvailableWindows, Mac, Linux, Android, FreeBSDRAR, ZIP, CAB, LZH, GZ & TAR.GZ, TAR, ARJ, BZ2, TAR.BZ2, ISO, UUE, JAR, 7Z, Z, XZ etc.
WINZIP$35.34AvailableWindows, Mac, iOS, AndroidRAR, ZIP TAR, IMG, 7Z, CAB, BZ2, TGZ, ISO, Zipx, GZ etc.
The UnarchiverOpen SourceNAMacZip, RAR (including v5), 7-zip, Tar, ISO, BIN, Gzip, Bzip2
iZipOpen SourceNAMacRAR, ZIP, 7-ZIP, ZIPX, TAR etc.
BetterZip 4$24.95AvailableMacZIP, TAR, TGZ, TBZ, TXZ, 7-ZIP, RAR, Apple Disk Images (DMG), TNEF (winmail.dat), ARJ, LHA, LZH, ISO, CHM, CAB, etc.
Extract NowOpen SourceNAWindowsRAR, ZIP etc.
PeaZipOpen SourceNAWindows, Linux, BSDRAR, ACE, ARJ, CAB, DMG, ISO, LHA, UDF, ZIPX, etc.
B1 Free ArchiverOpen SourceNAWindows, Mac, Linux, AndroidRAR, B1, ZIP, JAR, XPI, 7Z, ARJ, BZ2, CAB, DEB, GZIP, TGZ, ISO, LZH, LHA, LZMA, RPM, TAR, XAR, Z, DMG

Open A RAR File On Windows

As mentioned above, Windows OS does not have inbuilt support for un-archiving the RAR files. Thus an external tool is required to open RAR files on Windows operating system. We shall see the steps to open a RAR file with WinRAR. WinRAR allows both the operations of archiving and un-archiving a RAR file.

In the previous topic of creating a RAR folder on the Windows operating system, we saw how to download the WinRAR utility software. With WINRAR installed on your system, we shall now see how to open a RAR folder. Let’s try to open the same RAR folder “Work Records.rar” that we previously created.

#1) Open the “Work Records.rar” folder location in the Windows Explorer.

Open RAR file on Windows

#2) Right-click on the folder and select the option Open with WINRAR.

Open with WinRAR option

#3) The WINRAR window opens as seen below.


#4) Select the file(s) and click Extract To and you would get the screen pop up where the destination of the extracted files can be selected as shown below.

Destination of the extracted files

#5) The files are extracted and saved at the selected location from where they can be accessed.

Open A RAR File On Mac OS

Mac operating system has Apple’s Archive Utility tool that enables to decompress archived formats like ZIP, GZIP, TAR, etc. It, however, does not have inbuilt support for un-archiving the RAR files. Thus just like in the Windows operating system, an external tool is needed to open RAR files on Mac operating system as well.

WinZip is one such utility software. Do not get confused by the name. Although, WinZip is used for Zipping files it supports un-archiving of various other formats besides.Zip.

Let’s see the steps to open a RAR file using WinZip below:

  • Download and install WinZip on your Mac system from here
  • Goto the file/folder location that you want to Unarchive.
  • Right-click the file/folder and select the Services menu from the Context Menu.
  • Now choose to unzip.

Un-archiving a RAR file is quite easy. In fact, with a large number of Open source utility applications available, un-archiving is quite easy when compared to the limited options as to whether Licensed or open source is available to create a RAR file/folder.

Further reading => Ways to open 7z files

Difference Between RAR And ZIP File Format

Almost all of us would have sometimes or the other thought of how RAR and ZIP files differ. At the same time, most of us understand that ZIP and RAR are both archived file formats that contain one or more files in a compressed form.

Let’s get a basic understanding of the ZIP format after which it would be easier to understand the differences between the ZIP and RAR formats.

The ZIP file format – an external software named PKZIP was created by Phil Katz in 1989. However, now many software provides built-in support for ZIP files. For example as the release of Windows 98 and Mac OS – versions 10.3 there is built-in support available for zipping and unzipping the files without the need for external software.

Another feature available through ZIP is to provide the user with the choice of compressing a file or not while zipping it is. Moreover, the user can also make a choice as to the type of compression algorithm to be used.

Here one needs to know that there are different algorithms for compressing a file and the difference mainly lies as to how much of compression is needed.

Let’s now take a look at the differences in ZIP and RAR file formats that will help us to decide what archive format is beneficial for us in a situation.

An archive file format developed by Phil Katz in 1989 named as PKZIP utility.An archive file format developed by Eugene Roshal in 1993 named as RAR software
In-built support is provided by operating system Windows 98 and later, Mac OS ver 10.3 and laterIn-built support is provided by just Chrome operating system.
The file extensions for zipped files are .zip, .ZIP and MIMEThe file extensions for zipped files are .rar, .r00, .r001, .r002.
No external software needed, as in-built support is provided by Windows 98 and later.Software like WINRAR can be used to create and open RAR files on Windows OS
No external software needed, as in-built support is provided by Mac OS ver 10.3 and laterSoftware like The Unarchiver can be used to create and open RAR files on Mac OS
The minimum size of a RAR file san be 22 bytes and with a maximum of (2^32 – 1)bytes.The minimum size of a RAR file san be 20 bytes and with a maximum of (2^63 – 1)bytes.

FAQs About RAR Extractors

Q #1) How to put a password on WINRAR?


  • Go to the RAR file/folder location.
  • Right-click and select Open with WinRAR from the context menu.
  • On the WinRAR window, click the ADD option.
  • On the pop-up window that opens click the Set Password button.
  • Enter and Re-enter the password.
  • Click Ok.

Set Password

Q #2) What program allows you to open RAR files?

Answer: The RAR files can be opened by a variety of utility software available in the market. There are Licensed as well as Open source software available for the same. WINRAR is a Licensed software that allows support of RAR files.

It has a trial period of 40 days for which it can be used before having to pay for its License. However, there is a variety of other software available that are open source and greatly preferred E.g. 7- Zip, Extract Now, etc.

Q #3) Can WINRAR compress RAR files?

Answer: Yes. WINRAR is the Windows GUI version of the RAR file format. It can thus be used for compressing and de-compressing the RAR files. But it should be remembered that WINRAR is a Licensed software and cannot be used after a trial period of 40 days without purchasing its license.

Q #4) How to zip files with WINRAR?

Answer: Although WINRAR is used to create and open RAR files, it supports archiving and unarchiving of zip files too.

Follow the below steps, in order to zip a file using WINRAR:

  • Go to the file/folder that you want to zip.
  • Right-click over it and select Add to archive.
  • Now Click the radio button ZIP in the pop-up window that opens.

button ZIP


This tutorial aimed at explaining what a RAR file is and how we can create and open a RAR file/folder.

The aim was to help you to get a good understanding of various utility software available to create and open a RAR file and to be able to compare the differences so that it is easier for you to choose the best suitable software for you to work with RAR files.

We have taken a look at creating a RAR file in two main operating systems i.e. Windows and Mac.

Similarly, we also took a look at opening a RAR file on Windows and Mac operating systems. The difference between RAR and ZIP format was also discussed in-depth.

Hope this tutorial would have given you a good understanding of RAR files along with the benefits/limitations of the available utility software.