Extracting and opening RAR files on a Mac


You just downloaded a file to your Mac. It arrived as a RAR folder. This is a new format that you have never seen before.

This quick overview will cover everything you need to understand about RAR files, their purpose, and how to extract them from a Mac.

What is a RAR file?

You don’t have to know all the details, or you don’t care at all, you can skip to the next section.

A ZIP file is similar to an RAR file. Both file types are archive files that can be used to compress many files into one file. This allows you to upload one file for download (or attach one to an email) and the receivers to only need one file.

RAR stands for Roshal ARchive. It is named after Eugene Roshal who was a Russian software engineer and creator of the format. The RAR format was designed to fix some problems in ZIP and has several advantages: smaller file sizes and the ability to break a RAR into multiple parts. Error recovery is also possible.

However, we have come a long way since the days when ZIP and RAR were used. We now have better methods to compress, encrypt and transfer files. Although 7-Zip is a popular format, it is far from being the standard. It’s important to be able to manage RAR files.

How to Extract and Open RAR Files on Mac

RAR is a proprietary format, so Mac systems do not come with an integrated utility to handle it. The solution is simple: install a third-party tool to open RAR files on Mac.

1. Keka allows you to open RAR files

Keka is an extraction and compression tool. It’s available in both the Mac App Store as well as standalone. To extract a RAR file, double-click it or Control-click it to select Open.

Keka has one drawback, at least for some users. You can’t view the contents of RAR files without first extracting them. This functionality may not be necessary, but it is an excellent tool. Keka is not the app for you if you want to be able to see the contents of an archive and then only select the files that you need.

Keka is capable of creating its own compressed archives but does not support RAR. The formats you can use are ZIP, 7Zip, GZIP and BZIP2.

2. Use unRAR in Terminal for Mac

You will need to Install Homebrew in order to extract a RAR file from the Terminal. This is an all-in-one tool that allows you to install other tools.

Homebrew can be used to install RAR extraction tools with just one command.

This must be entered into the Terminal. You can do this by opening Spotlight (using Cmd + Spa keyboard shortcut), and typing “terminal” before launching the Terminal application.

You may get the message that unRAR must be built from source.

In this case, you will need to install the Xcode command-line tools by using this command.

After unRAR has been installed, you can extract any archive file by opening Terminal and entering this command:

You don’t know how the command line works? Take a look at the beginner’s guide for using the Mac Terminal.

3. To extract RAR files, use The Unarchiver

The Unarchiver is an unpaid RAR extractor that works on macOS. It can be used to quickly open any RAR archive. This tool, like Keka, doesn’t let you view the contents of your RAR files prior to extracting them.

The tool offers many options for customizing your extractions to suit your needs.

It supports non-Latin characters in your archive file names, which is a great feature. You can extract RAR files with foreign characters.

The Unarchiver also supports many other archive formats, such as ZIP, 7Z and GZIP, CAB and others.

4. To unzip RAR files, use The Unarchiver with Automator

The above tools may not be efficient if you regularly extract RAR files. Automator can be used to automate RAR file extraction.

Automator and the Unarchiver can be used together to create a folder action which automatically decompresses all files in your RAR archives.

After creating the action in Automator you can simply place your RAR files in the folder you specify to extract them. This is how you create the action.

  1. Name it Unrar and create a folder on your desktop.
  2. Open The Unarchiver Click the button Extracting Tab, and select Same folder as archive From the Extract archives Dropdown menu
  3. Allow Move the archive into the trash so that it is deleted after being extracted.
  4. Start Automator. Click File > Create. Select Folder Action. Click Choose.
  5. Select Other from the dropdown menu and then choose your Unrar directory.
  6. Drag the Find and Finder Items action to the workflow to the right.
  7. Choose your action in the new addition Unrar Folder from the Search Dropdown and then select Any Select the next dropdown. Next, select File extension Then, follow by Includes Enter, Rare In the box
  8. Drag the Open Find Items action to the right pane.
  9. Choose The Unarchiver From the Get in touch with Dropdown menu
  10. Click Cmd+ S to enter a name and then click Save. Close Automator.
  11. Drag any RAR files you wish to unzip to your Unrar directory on your desktop. The archive will be extracted immediately and all files in it will be placed in the same Unrar folder.

5. Use an online RAR extractor

Online RAR extractors can be very useful if you only need to extract a few files. An online tool doesn’t require you to install anything on your machine. These tools can be accessed through your web browser. They allow you to extract files the same way as your desktop programs.

Extract me is an online tool that allows you to extract RAR files and other archives using a web browser. Archives can be added from your computer, cloud storage services such as Google Drive or Dropbox, and even directly from web URLs.

After you have uploaded your archive, wait for it to be extracted by the site. The site will then allow you to download the individual files from your archive to your computer.

It’s easy to open RAR files on Mac

You don’t need to panic if you come across a RAR file. These RAR extraction techniques for Mac are quick and easy to use.

Although your Mac cannot handle RAR files without built-in tools there are many great default apps that can be installed on all Macs. Most of the time, there is no need to download third-party apps. Stock Mac apps are quite good in most cases. Before downloading any third-party apps, it’s worth looking at them.


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