Open RAR Files

Most archived files use the zip format but some use other types. For this reason, knowing the techniques for opening RAR files is necessary.

System Requirements

  • File compression / extractor software
  • Computer running Windows or Mac


  1. Download the Software: Unlike zip files, neither Windows nor the Mac have built in applets for extracting this compression format. This means you need to download an application that can open it.
    This isn’t hard to do. A lot of the utilities that can open zip files can handle RAR too, along with other formats. Go to your favorite download sites and choose a program. Some are shareware but a lot are free and do the job well. After downloading the file, run a virus scan. Double click the .exe file and follow instructions.
  2. Opening RAR Files: After the software is installed, double click to open it. You’ll see several options there. Choose “open file” or something similar. Go to the folder where the RAR is located. Choose select and click “open” in the dialog box.
    You will see the contents of the archive now. Look for a button that says “extract” or something like that. Click it. You’ll be presented with a dialog box. Choose the folder where you want the files extracted.
    Note: this is not the program itself. What will be extracted are the installation files. For this reason you should choose the Temp folder. If you don’t have a Temp folder for opening RAR files, right click Window Explorer. Choose “new folder”. Press F2 and rename it to “temp”.
  3. The File Extraction: After choosing the extraction folder, continue by clicking yes or ok. The files will be extracted into the folder you chose. In this example it is the Temp folder. Depending on the number of files, the extraction can take a few seconds or more.
    When the extraction is finished, click “close”. If you have to extract or unzip more archives, repeat the process. Otherwise, close the utility. You are now done with the process of opening RAR files.
    Now go to the Temp folder. Depending on the software, you’ll see the .exe files, DLL and other types. Double click install.exe or setup.exe. Follow the instructions given. When the program is installed, return to the Temp folder and delete all its contents. If you need to reinstall, just open the archives again.

Tips and Warnings

  • As stated, opening these files can be done with most zip programs. But a few don’t support this format. Before downloading, read the supported file formats first. If it’s included, then you can download it.
  • Instead of opening the program and looking for the archive, you can use a shortcut. Go to Windows Explorer. Go to the folder where the archive is located. Double click. The file extractor will open with the files visible. Now you just need to click “extract”.
  • If someone has sent you archives in this format, you don’t have to worry you won’t be able to use them. Opening RAR files is easy as long as you have the right tools.