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How to Open a Rar File

Updated on May 30, 2010

You just received a file through your computer that has an extension you've never seen before. It's a "Rar" file. What is this thing? And more importantly, how can you open it to see what it is that someone you know has sent to you? Don't worry; the name may be strange and the file may be different but the process for opening it is something that you've probably done plenty of times before. And even if you haven't, it's a relatively easy thing to learn how to do.

But first, what is a Rar file? Why are you even receiving this thing?

A "Rar" file is basically just another name for a "Zip" file. You've surely sent and received Zip files before so you know that they take the information you are trying to send and compress it in order to reduce the size of the file to make sending it over the Internet easier. If you've unzipped a zip file, you know that the material looks basically the same as it did in its bigger format; it was just reduced so that it could be attached to email. A "Rar" file is basically the same thing.

So why not just call is a Zip file?

Okay, okay, the "Rar" file is a little bit different than a Zip file. The way that the file is compressed differs in that it uses a more complex algorithm for the compression. As far as you're concerned, this doesn't mean much at all. What does matter on your end is that the "Rar" file is compressed to smaller sizes than a Zip file can be so you're able to send more in open file in one email attachment if you use Rar than if you use Zip. That's probably why you're receiving a Rar file. Someone wanted to send you a big file that couldn't be zipped down to an e-mail-attachable size so they sent it as a Rar file instead.

Okay, great, you know what a Rar file is now. So how do you open it?

You'll need to download a program that is capable of opening a Rar file. The most commonly used program for this purpose is probably BitZipper. You can get a free trial download of it online by typing BitZipper into your favorite search engine. There are plenty of other software programs that you can download for free that will also be able to open your Rar file. If you want to play around with your different options, head over to CNET downloads ( and type "open rar" or "open compressed files" into a search. You can download any of the software available that says it can be used to open these files. Once you have downloaded the software, you can follow the simple step-by-step instructions available on the program to complete opening of the Rar file. If you're not too good at things like this, make sure that the program you download has a "Wizard" interface. That's the step-by-step thing that will run you through an easy method of using the program. It's as easy as telling a Zip file to unzip.


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  • profile image

    Adam 3 years ago

    You should use website like to find software that open rar files

  • alocsin profile image

    alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

    Good information on rar.. Linking this to my Compressing hub and voting it Up and Useful.

  • profile image

    Recover Deleted Emails 7 years ago


    Can we use this utility on UBUNTU operating system?.

    Thanking you and looking forward to hearing from you soon!

  • profile image 7 years ago from bear, de, 19701

    Thanks a lot for providing information regarding RAR files i too agree with your point that they reduce the size of the file.In transferring the files in email and or through gtalks etc--- we can easily transfer through these RAR files.Once again thankyou for providing such wonderful article i mean a detailed details about RAR.

  • Creativologist profile image

    Creativologist 7 years ago

    Be careful here. RAR is a popular format for sending virus infested files. So before you click on a .rar file, you should check it with your anti-virus first.

  • profile image

    Vinu 7 years ago

    one of the advantage of RAR file is that it compress the file and save you bandwidth while sending it online.

  • profile image

    colorzone 7 years ago

    WinMount can mount RAR files on a new drive, so that you can use files inside it directly. There is no extraction time before you use them, and you don't need disk space to hold these huge files. WinMount saves your time and disk space! (

    or decompress rar with winmount ( )

  • save my system profile image

    save my system 7 years ago from United Kingdom - London

    Nice hub. Thanks for sharing what is rar files and its advantages over zip file. I am using winrar but I greatly rely on software's like multi zipper etc.

  • adorababy profile image

    adorababy 7 years ago from Syracuse, NY

    I am sure many of the readers have appreciated your post as not too many people out there know what the "Rar" file is all about. Thank you for simplifying things. Keep posting.

  • profile image

    Abry  7 years ago

  • profile image

    Grout Cleaning 7 years ago

    There is an online solution which lets you open rar files without downloading any software. It can be useful on mobile devices like PSP and phones.

  • profile image

    bigz 7 years ago

    you are awesome,but the sound from a man in china.

  • gloria_solomon profile image

    gloria_solomon 7 years ago

    Thank you, this info was very useful. What about images that has a strange file extention, how do you retrieve the images? is there a downloable program for that?

  • johneee profile image

    johneee 7 years ago from San Jose, CA

    Thanks, never knew what that was.

  • profile image

    Marina 7 years ago

    ALSO, dont forget, for Windows users, best un-zipper would be WinZip, also available at CNET

    It usually come with the system, but if u dont have it, go ahead and download a full free version at CNET

  • profile image

    nirtu 7 years ago

    useful for me , thanks

  • Lymond profile image

    Lymond 7 years ago from UK

    Good, basic, no confusing bits rar program with low overheads and a cool frog background is 'rar frog' ( and its FREEWARE! :¬) (works with vista 64)

  • profile image

    colorzone 8 years ago

    WinMount can mount RAR files on a new drive, so that you can use files inside it directly. There is no extraction time before you use them, and you don't need disk space to hold these huge files. WinMount saves your time and disk space! (

    or decompress rar with winmount ( )

  • jessicab profile image

    jessicab 8 years ago from Alabama

    This is a very good hub because I have had many problems with these files. Thanks.

  • sukhera143 profile image

    sukhera143 8 years ago from Home

    good hub.

  • joebhoy profile image

    joebhoy 8 years ago from Manila

    great hub. thanks for sharing. i'm using winrar to open a .rar files.

  • profile image

    powerborn 8 years ago

    I downloaded an album today and it is in .rar format. I used winrar for that, but the uploader made it where you have to create a password to access files. I read a tutorial about "Adding to Archive" and making a password but to no avail, I still get this error, "CRC failed to encrypted files". Does anybody know the solution, I've have been trying to listen to this album for a year. You can send your replies to or just here too. Thanks and Peace!

  • profile image

    Zipeg 8 years ago

    Zipeg is free and works on both Mac and Windows. Just google it.

  • profile image

    skywagger 8 years ago

    I dont understand why somebody would PAY to for a program not as good as 7zip; thats free.

  • Rockney profile image

    Rockney 9 years ago from Orange County, California

    Great article!

  • profile image

    alvin j lejeune 9 years ago

    hi kathryn i thanks very much for the info it reallay was a big help.

  • profile image

    picholes 9 years ago

    I download a movie and my windows media player shows , can't play the movie because have an extension (.rar) if I install that download will help me to watch the movie???????????

  • profile image

    vikas k karwal 9 years ago

    its a nice explanation of the RAR file . infact no other source i have ever seen explaining it so beautifully.

    Thanx dear.

  • profile image

    Frankie 9 years ago


    thx for the info

  • profile image

    JOEY from Phils 9 years ago


    Thanks for initiating & you're helping many simpletons (me included) with yours.


    Thanks Dude & you convince me with your testament!

    God bless you all.


    PS: I pray you both get the chance to visit our country-Philippines!

  • Susan Ng profile image

    Susan Ng Yu 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

    I use WinRAR to open RAR files as well as other compressed file types like ZIP files. Once it's installed, it integrates itself into the Windows shell. Double-clicking on the RAR or ZIP file opens it up so you can see what's inside. Right-clicking it then selecting one of the Extract options in the menu that appears uncompresses the folder/file. (Is "uncompress" a word? :p)

  • singpec476 profile image

    singpec476 9 years ago from Not Too Far Away

    Hi Kathryn another great hub I use most files at sometimes or another but there is a lot of people that will find this very useful.

  • profile image

    Bill 9 years ago

    Thanks for the tip Kathryn. I browsed around on the BitZipper web site, and they actually have a step by step guide on how to open RAR files:

    and you can even get it for free:


  • profile image

    Shriram 9 years ago

    It's a excellent explanation of opening of .RAR extn. file. Appriciated

  • Miz Molly profile image

    Miz Molly 9 years ago from Australia

    Thanks Kathryn,

    I downloaded my first .rar file last night, and have been scratching my head about it!

  • Misha profile image

    Misha 10 years ago from DC Area

    7Zip works best for me. It is free, and in addition to all mentioned formats it can work with tar and gz files, which comes real handy when you run a website or two on UNIX-like platform:)

    PS Blerim, to the best of my knowledge winzip can't open rar files

  • profile image

    tasneem 10 years ago

    plz help me how to open my file

  • blerim profile image

    blerim 10 years ago from BOSTON

    winzip works the best for these files

  • profile image

    Joshua Cloutier 10 years ago

    I just wish they had it for free the rar opener

  • Dumbledore profile image

    Dumbledore 10 years ago from Somewhere in Ohio

    Very nice explanation of the "rar" file type, which I had also not heard of before. However, you may point out to your readers that they should use caution when opening compressed files from unknown sources. The reason is that most anti-virus packages do not scan within compressed files.

  • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

    Ashok Rajagopalan 10 years ago from Chennai

    And you can use that 'rar' program to unzip zip files, rar files and many other zipped extensions.

    Useful hub for many, Kathryn!