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How to Extract and Open RAR files on Mac

How to Extract and Open RAR files on Mac

If you’re a Mac user, you may have encountered the challenge of opening .rar files, which are not natively supported on macOS. RAR files, which stand for Roshal Archive, are compressed files that can contain multiple files and folders. They’re particularly useful for downloading and sharing large quantities of data efficiently. In this comprehensive guide, I will share my personal experiences and methods on how to open RAR files on your Mac using different tools and applications, including the Mac Terminal and the versatile Commander One app.


Common Scenarios:

Scenario 1: Downloading Software 📦

  • Often, when downloading software or large sets of files from the internet, they are compressed into RAR archives to reduce file size and facilitate quicker downloads.

Scenario 2: Sharing Documents 📂

  • When sharing multiple documents or high-resolution media files, compressing them into a RAR file can make the sharing process more efficient and manageable.

Scenario 3: Organizing Backup 🗄

  • Creating backups of important files by archiving them into RAR format is an effective way to keep data organized and reduce storage space.

Step-by-Step Guide. How To Extract RAR Files On Mac:

Method 1: Using Terminal with Unrar 🖥

  • Open the Terminal application on your Mac. You can find it using Spotlight (Command + Space) and typing ‘Terminal’.
  • Install Homebrew if you don’t have it by pasting /bin/bash -c “$(curl -fsSL” into Terminal.
  • Once Homebrew is installed, type brew install unrar to install the unrar utility.
  • Navigate to the directory where the RAR file is located using the cd command.
  • To extract the RAR file, type unrar x [filename.rar], replacing ‘[filename.rar]’ with the actual file name.

Note: If you’re new to using Terminal, it’s a powerful tool that allows you to navigate and control your Mac using text-based commands.

Conclusion: Using Terminal with Unrar is a straightforward method for advanced users comfortable with command-line interfaces.

Method 2: Commander One App 🚀

  • Download Commander One from the official website or the Mac App Store.
  • Install and open Commander One on your Mac.
  • Navigate to the location of the RAR file within the Commander One app.
  • Right-click on the RAR file and select ‘Extract’ from the context menu.
  • Choose the destination folder where you want the extracted files and click ‘Extract’.

Note: Commander One is also equipped with other features like FTP client, cloud storage management, and more. It can be a good all-in-one solution.

Conclusion: Commander One provides a user-friendly interface for those who prefer GUI applications over command-line tools.

Useful info: Simple and efficient way to handle large file uploads to Amazon S3.


Precautions and Tips:

Essential Insights 🛠

  • Before installing new software like Homebrew, ensure that your Mac’s operating system is up to date to avoid any compatibility issues.
  • Always verify the source of the RAR files you download to protect your Mac from potential malware.
  • For sensitive data, consider password-protecting your RAR files. Most RAR tools support encrypted files.

Understanding File Compression on Mac

As I delved deeper into the world of file management and compression on Mac, I discovered that while the .zip format is natively supported by macOS, other formats like .rar require third-party utilities for unpacking. This highlighted the importance of having the right tools at hand for handling various file types, especially for professionals who frequently deal with a myriad of different files.

One effective utility that I’ve consistently used for both compressing and decompressing files is Keka, which can be downloaded from Keka’s official site. Its user-friendly interface lets you compress and decompress files just by dragging and dropping them onto the app window.

During my various projects, The Unarchiver has also served me well. It’s a robust and easy-to-use program that can be found in the Mac App Store and supports many file types, including RAR.

An important aspect to remember about file compression is that while it reduces file size, it can also lead to data degradation if not done properly, especially for certain types of media files. So, use the right tools and options to maintain the quality of your data.


In conclusion, opening RAR files on a Mac might seem daunting at first, but with the right knowledge and tools, it becomes a simple task. Whether you are more comfortable with using Terminal and command-line utilities or prefer a graphical user interface like Commander One, there’s a method that suits your technical skills and preferences. By following this guide, I hope you feel equipped to handle RAR files on your Mac with confidence and ease.


A RAR file is a compressed archive that can contain multiple files and folders. You might need to unpack it on a Mac to access or edit its contents.

No, macOS does not come with built-in tools to extract RAR files. Third-party software is necessary for this task.

You can use Unarchiver, a free program that handles the extraction of RAR files and many other compressed formats on Mac. Visit The Unarchiver for more information.

Download a RAR extraction tool like The Unarchiver from its official website or the Mac App Store, then follow the installation instructions provided.

Yes, you can use the command line tool unar, available through Homebrew, to extract RAR files on Mac. It's suitable for users comfortable with Terminal.

Some RAR extraction tools, like Unarchiver, may allow you to preview contents, but generally, the file must be extracted to view all contents fully.

Ensure that your software is up to date and that the RAR file is not corrupted. If issues persist, try using another extraction tool or check the file for damage.

Yes, most RAR extraction tools for Mac will prompt you to enter the password before you can extract a password-protected RAR file.

Typically, the contents of a RAR file are extracted to the same directory where the RAR file is located, unless you specify a different location.

Yes, there are online services that can extract RAR files, but they may have size limits and security risks. It's generally safer to use a dedicated tool on your computer.