You just downloaded a file and it arrived as a RAR archive. You've never seen a format like this and, however, you just can't break it down to access the goodies that are waiting for you.
This quick reference guide will walk you through everything you need to know about what RAR files are, why they exist, and how to open and extract RAR file contents on Mac.
What is a RAR file?
If you already know this or you just don't care, skip to the next section for the actual instructions.
A RAR file is similar to a ZIP file. Both are "archive" file formats that can be used to compress many individual files into a single file. That way, all you have to do is provide one file to download (or attach a file to an email), and recipients only have to download one file instead of many separate files.
How does file compression work?
How does file compression work? Learn the basics of file compression and the difference between lossy and lossless compression.
RAR stands for R.oshal ARChives named after the Russian software developer who created the format. The RAR format was created to fix some of the errors in the ZIP format. It has several advantages: smaller file sizes, the ability to split a RAR into multiple chunks, and troubleshooting.
Even so, we've come a long way since the days of ZIP and RAR and now have better ways to compress, encrypt, and transfer files. The 7-zip format is a popular option, but far from the standard. Hence it is still important to know how to deal with RAR files.
How to open and extract RAR files on Mac
The RAR format is proprietary, so it is not surprising that Mac systems do not have a built-in utility for handling it. However, the solution is as simple as installing a free third-party tool that can open RAR files.
Here are five RAR extraction options that you can choose from.
1. Open RAR files with Keka
Keka is a compression and extraction tool that is available in both the Mac App Store and as a standalone installation. Once installed, all you need to do is double-click a RAR file to extract it, or right-click and select one to open.
The downside to using Keka, at least for some users, is that you cannot examine the contents of a RAR file without first extracting it. You may never need this functionality. In this case, this is a great tool for the job. However, if you want the ability to take a look at the contents of an archive and only get the files you need, Keka is not the app for you.
Note that Keka can create its own compressed archives, but does not support the RAR format. They are limited to ZIP, 7-Zip, TAR, GZIP, and BZIP2 formats.
Download: Keka (free)
2. Use unRAR on the Mac Terminal
To extract a RAR file using the terminal, you need to install Homebrew, an all-in-one tool for installing other tools.
For example, Homebrew allows you to install a RAR extraction tool with one command:
brew install unrar
You'll need to type this into Terminal, which can be accessed by opening Spotlight (using Cmd + Space Keyboard shortcut), enter "terminal" and start Terminal.app.
If you get a message that UnRAR needs to be built from source, e.g. B .:
You must first install the Xcode command line tools with this command:
Once UnRAR is installed, you can extract any RAR file by navigating to that file in Terminal and typing this command:
unrar x example_file.rar
Not sure how to navigate the command line? First, check out our beginner's guide to using the Mac Terminal.
The Unarchiver is a free RAR extractor for macOS. You can use it to open any of your RAR archives with a single click. As with Keka, this tool won't let you see what's in your RAR files before extracting them.
Otherwise, the tool has a lot of customizable options so your archives will be extracted the way you want.
One of its handy features is that it supports non-Latin characters for your archive filenames. This allows you to extract RAR files whose names contain foreign characters.
The Unarchiver also supports many other archive formats including ZIP, 7Z, GZIP, CAB and others.
Download: The Unarchiver (free)
4. Try using Unarchiver With Automator to extract RAR files
If you regularly extract RAR files, the above tools may feel inefficient for the task. Fortunately, you can use Automator to automate the RAR extraction task.
The Unarchiver works with Automator to create a folder action that automatically decompresses all files in your RAR archives.
After creating this Action in Automator, all you need to do is put your RAR archives in the specified folder to extract them all. To create the action:
Create a new folder on your desktop and name it Unrare.
to open The unarchiver, press the extraction Tab and select Same folder as the archive of the Extract archives to Drop down menu.
Activate Move the archive to the trash Therefore your archive will be deleted after the extraction.
Start Automator, click File> New, choose Folder actionand click on Choose.
At the top, click the drop-down menu and select Otherand choose yours Unrare Folder.
Drag the named action Find Finder Items via the workflow on the right.
In the newly added action, choose yours Unrare Folder from the search Dropdown, then choose Any from the following drop-down list. Next, choose File extension followed by containsand enter rar In the box.
Drag another action named Open the Finder Items over to the right area.
Choose The unarchiver of the Open with Drop down menu.
Press Cmd + S.Enter a name for your workflow and click save up. Then close Automator.
Copy all the RAR archives that you want to unzip into the Unrare Folder on your desktop. Your archive will be extracted immediately, with all files placed in it Unrare Folder.
An online RAR extractor can be useful when you only want to extract one or more archives. With an online tool, you don't have to install anything on your computer. These tools work through your web browser and allow you to extract your files just like your desktop programs.
Extract Me is one such tool that allows you to extract RAR and many other archive formats using a web browser. You can add your archives from your computer, cloud storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox, and even direct web URLs.
After uploading an archive, wait a few seconds for the site to extract it. You can then download individual files in your archive to your computer.
Opening RAR files on Mac made easy
Now you don't have to sweat any more when you come across a RAR file. Quickly do whatever you come across with these simple RAR extractors for Mac.
While your Mac can't handle these files with built-in tools, there are some great standard apps that come installed on all Macs. In most cases, you don't need to download a third-party app as standard Mac apps are pretty good in most cases.
A complete guide to standard Mac apps and how they work
Like most operating systems, your Mac has a handful of standard apps that cover all kinds of use cases: office work, web browsing, email, tasks, navigation, photo management, music, and …
About the author
(52 articles published)
Mahesh is a tech writer at MakeUseOf. He has been writing technical guides for about 8 years and has covered many subjects. He loves teaching people how to get the most out of their devices.
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