How to Open & Extract RAR Files from Any Device

With the rise of the internet, compressing files for uploading and downloading purposes has become relatively commonplace. One of those compression standards is the .rar extension, which can create more densely packed archives than other formats.

How to Open & Extract RAR Files from Any Device

In this article, you’ll see the easiest way to extract RAR files on your particular platform.

How to Extract RAR Files on a Windows PC

Extracting RAR Files using WinRAR

The most apparent program to use when extracting “.rar” files would be WinRAR. The extension is proprietary, after all. Although technically, you have to pay for the program after the 40-day trial period, WinRAR never deactivates any of the program’s core functions. Therefore, you can download the trial, then keep using it indefinitely.

When using WinRAR, extract files by doing the following:

  1. Option 1: Right-click on the file and choose “Extract files…” to open the extraction menu. You can also choose “Extract Here” to uncompress all files in the current directory or “Extract to [folder name]” to use the current “.rar” name as the extraction folder.
  2. Option 2: On WinRAR, click on “File,” then on “Open Archive.” Browse your folders to find the file you want to open, then click the “Extract to” button.
  3. Option 3: Double-clicking on a RAR file in Explorer will also automatically open it in the WinRAR window. From here, you can use the “Extract to” button as normal.

Extracting RAR Files using WinZip

Another popular archiving tool, WinZip, is one of WinRAR’s major competitors. WinZip is a paid app too, but a trial version is available for download. Unlike WinRAR, however, WinZip will lock you out of the program after the trial period is over. Archive files such as Zip, 7Zip, and RAR can be opened by the program.

If you have WinZip installed, you can open archives by doing the following:

  1. Option 1: Right-click on the RAR file, hover over the “WinZip” icon, then choose “Unzip to…,” “Unzip to here,” or “Unzip to folder [folder directory/name].”
  2. Option 2: Right-click on the RAR file, hover over the “Open with” icon, then choose “WinZip” or “Choose another app” if unlisted, then extract the RAR from within WinZip.
  3. Option 3: Double-click on the RAR file directly in Explorer to open it in WinZip, then choose an extraction option.

Extracting RAR Files using 7-Zip

Both freeware and open-source software, 7-Zip has become the archiving tool of choice for PC users for a while now. Because it doesn’t cost anything and is compatible with all other archive file types, many users recommend downloading the 7-Zip installer. If you have 7-Zip, you can open archive files by doing the following:

  1. Option 1: Right-click on an archived folder in Explorer, hover over the “7-Zip” menu option, then choose “Extract files…” to open the extraction menu. You can also select “Extract Here” to unzip all files in the current directory or “Extract to [folder name]” to unzip as a folder.
  2. Right-click on the archived folder in Explorer, hover over the “7-Zip” menu option, select “Open archive” to open the 7-Zip application window, then choose your extraction option.

  3. Option 3: Double-click on the RAR folder using Explorer to open it in 7-Zip, then click on the “Extract” button in the top menu and choose a folder location to unzip the archive.

How to Extract RAR Files on Mac

There are macOS versions for the paid archive tools, namely WinZip and WinRAR, which are used similarly to their PC versions. In addition, the macOS comes with a built-in Archive Utility program which allows you to extract archive files without having to use any other app.

Extracting RAR Files using the Built-In Archive Utility

  1. Double click the archive file. There are no extra commands needed as Archive Utility is launched automatically. If you change the name of the archive file, the resulting extracted folder will be the same as the archive filename.

Extracting RAR Files using Unarchiver

A free archival app, Unarchiver is easily downloaded from the Mac App Store, it is more versatile than the native archival tool on macOS. Unarchiver is also compatible with a lot more archive file types. This is a great tool to have, and because it’s free there really isn’t a reason not to install it. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Open Unarchiver.
  2. Click on “File” on the menu.
  3. Choose whether to “Unarchive to Current Folder,” “Unarchive to Desktop,” or “Unarchive to.” The last option lets you specify the location to place your files.
  4. Choose the file you want to extract, then click on “Unarchive.”
  5. The extracted file should show up as a folder named after the original archive.

How to Extract RAR Files on a Chromebook

The Chromebook is a rather limited platform. By default, no additional programs can be installed on it unless the app has been approved by Google. Fortunately for those that want to extract files, you do not really need any additional programs as Chrome OS has archive support by default. To extract a file on Chromebook, follow the steps below:

  1. Double click the RAR file you want to open. Chrome OS will mount this file as if it was an external drive. This is normal. Click on the archive file from the menu on the left.
  2. You will be shown the list of files that are within the archive, choose the files that you want to extract, and then choose “Copy.”
  3. Navigate to our preferred destination folder, right-click and choose “Paste Here.”
  4. Eject the archive file to remove it from the mounted drive menu. You can delete the archive if you no longer need it, otherwise close the window.

Alternatively, you can enable the Google Play Store on your Chromebook. You can then search the store for RAR archive tools that you can use to extract archive files. Some of the more popular ones will be listed under the Android Apps below.

How to Extract RAR Files on an Android Device

As Android devices are, by their nature, mobile, downloading compressed files can become a necessity in order to avoid exhausting mobile plan data caps. For Android, a majority of the tools required for opening archives can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. Particular device models may come with their own archiving software as per their factory settings, but usually, there aren’t any by default. Some of the more popular apps from the Play Store are:

Extracting RAR Files using RAR

An all-in-one compression program, archiver, extractor, and basic file explorer, the RAR app can easily open any archive file type. With over 700,000 reviews giving it 4.4 out of 5 stars, it is arguably one of the best archiver apps on Android. Starting the app opens a file explorer that allows you to search for the archive you want to extract. The extraction options are on the menu at the top.

Extracting RAR Files using ZArchiver

Another popular app, ZArchiver is a straightforward archiving tool does its job remarkably well. To extract an archived file, open it within the app, then select where you want the files to be decompressed.

Extracting RAR Files using RS File Manager

Unlike the previous apps, the RS File Manager is a fully featured file explorer with archive functionality. If you want to download an app that’s more than just an extraction tool, this may be right up your alley. Tapping on an archive file from within RS File manager gives you the option to extract it to the location of your choice.

How to Extract RAR Files on an iPhone

Unlike Android, the iPhone comes with an archiver by default. Unfortunately, this only natively supports Zip files. To open RAR files or 7Zip files, you will have to download third-party software from the Apple App Store.

Extracting RAR Files using iZip

One of the more popular apps for extracting archived files like RAR, Zip, and 7Zip, iZip is a free tool that accomplishes the task remarkably well. To open a RAR file using iZip, follow these steps:

  1. Open the iZIp App.
  2. Select “Document Browser.”
  3. Locate your archived file then tap on it.
  4. On the popup windows asking you to open the file, tap on “YES.”
  5. When prompted to unzip all files, tap on “OK.”
  6. The file will be extracted to the Files folder of iZip. You can see the uncompressed files there.

Extracting RAR Files using Unzip

Another popular archiver app, Unzip is easy-to-use, and can extract RAR files by doing the following:

  1. Open the Files app on your iPhone.
  2. Locate your archive file, then tap and hold until a menu appears and choose “Share.”
  3. Scroll to the right until you see “More,” the three dots icon and tap on it.
  4. Tap on “Unzip” and then “OK.”
  5. Open Unzip then tap on the name of the file you shared. This will create a new folder named after the RAR file. You can now browse the uncompressed files from here.

Additional FAQ

Here are a couple of frequently asked questions that often pop up when how to extract RAR files is discussed.

1. Why are RAR files used instead of zip files?

Although both compression formats perform the same functions, RAR files are more optimized. RAR compression is denser than that of both Zip and 7Zip, resulting in smaller archived files. Although the difference may not be as noticeable for smaller file sizes, when you’re trying to archive gigabytes of data, the contrast is much more apparent.

2. What exactly are RAR files used for?

RAR files are used mainly to decrease the amount of data consumed by either uploading or downloading files. Depending on your data plan, bandwidth may come at a premium, and minimizing the size of a file is a good way to keep data usage in check. If you’re constantly uploading or downloading files, archiving them beforehand can make a huge difference, and the RAR format offers the better compression rate

Still a Very Popular File Format

Although there are newer archive formats now available that offer free open-source archiving functions, the RAR extension is still very popular. Its better compression rate, along with the seemingly endless trial version of the WinRAR program, has gone a long way to prolonging the life of this decades-old format.

Do you know of other ways on how to extract RAR files? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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