Open and Extract RAR files on Mac

Mac natively only opens a number of compressed file formats, such as ZIP, TAR, or GZIP. RAR files are not included. To be able to open RAR files on Mac, you will need to install a rar extractor.

There are several apps for opening rar files on Mac, the one I recommend in this article is The Unarchiver. It’s a lightweight yet powerful application. If Windows has Winrar for handling archives, on Mac, we have The Unarchiver.

Download the RAR Extractor for Mac

You can download The Unarchiver from the developer’s official website or via the Mac App Store.

If you use macOS 10.7 or later, you can install via the Mac App Store. For earlier versions, you can only download and install it manually from the website.

Open your RAR files

After you install The Unarchiver, you can open any RAR files on your Mac computer.

Simply double click the RAR file and The Unarchiver will take over, asking you to choose a folder to extract compressed data into. That’s how it works after being installed by default.

If The Unarchiver doesn’t open the file automatically, you can right-click on the rar file, then select Open WithThe Unarchiver. You can also set The Unarchiver to be the default archive opener on your Mac by following below walkthrough.

First, right-click on a random RAR file. Then select Get Info, scroll down to the Open with section. Next, select The Unarchiver in the dropdown menu. Click the Change All… button below “Use this application to open all documents like this one”. Now, when you double click a RAR file, The Unarchiver should automatically open it for you.

Change the default RAR opener on Mac
Change the default RAR opener on Mac

In some cases, the default Mac utility may fail when uncompressing ZIP, TAR, GZIP files. You can use The Unarchiver to open them instead.

The Unarchiver also have a few app preferences that let you use it the way you want.

Go to the app’s preferences by opening The Unarchiver in the Applications folder, or you can type The Unarchiver into Spotlight search and run it.

The Unarchiver's preferences

Now, in the Archive Formats tab, you can enable the application to handle more archive formats such as Gzip (.gz), Gzip Tar Archive (.tgz, .tar-gz), Tar, (.tar). These formats are disabled by default.

In the Extraction tab, there are a number of useful options when opening RAR files.

  • You can choose to extract an archive to the same folder as the archive, a specific folder, or choose to always ask for a destination folder before extracting.
  • Choose when to create a new folder for extracted files.
  • Choose to open the extraction folder or move the archive to the trash after extracting it.

Related post: Open Zip & Rar files on iPhone & iPad

BetterZip: An advanced app to open and create archives on Mac

The Unarchiver is lightweight, easy to use and works like a charm. For most users, this application is good enough to handle RAR files on Mac. However, if you’re looking for a more versatile rar opener, I also have got you covered!


BetterZip is the next suggestion. Like The Unarchiver, the app can open most archive formats including RAR. The difference between the two is the ability to handle archives. BetterZip comes with more advanced features for creating and managing archive files.

You cannot create archive files using The Unarchiver but you can with BetterZip. Some of the notable features include:

  • Create archives with these formats: ZIP, TAR, 7-ZIP, RAR, TGZ …
  • Add files, delete files, move and rename files inside an archive without extracting it.
  • Remove specific files from archives created on Mac so they look and behave well on Windows.
  • Preview content inside your archive without extracting it.
  • Protect your data with passwords.

If you just want to extract Rar files downloaded from email or the Web, The Unarchiver will work just fine. If you need to make or modify archives on Mac, then BetterZip is recommended.


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