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How to Open RAR Files on Mac?

RAR files are widely used by people who want to compress files and save disk space or share more easily. Unfortunately, as many of you already know, there’s no native macOS app to uncompress and extract RAR files.

That’s why we’ve shown in this article a reliable way for users to open RAR files on Mac. So, keep reading to learn more about the best tool that gets the job done and gives you access to compressed files in a RAR archive.

Commander One

What is RAR?

RAR is a compressed file format that’s short for Roshal Archive, named after the software engineer that developed it – Eugene Roshal. Created by WinRAR archiver, the RAR file format contains one or more compressed files and folders with various data. One of its most popular uses is to archive software online, which is why when you download a new app or an installer, it mostly comes in a RAR file.

Other than compressing contents, a RAR file also offers the possibility of adding password protection to data. So, if you don’t want anyone to access the files you’ve compressed, you can just add a password and share it only with the people who are supposed to access it. Keep in mind that if you want to use RAR files on Mac, you’ll need to install a third-party application to get access to them.

What is the Difference Between RAR and ZIP Files?

If you’ve been using computers for a while, then you may be familiar with the ZIP file format when it comes to archiving. Developed by Phil Katz, ZIP has been around since 1989 and it was one of the first tools that works on both Mac and Windows.

When talking about the differences between the two formats, ZIP is free to use and supported by most operating systems. ZIP doesn’t require any additional software to work on Mac. The RAR format, unfortunately, doesn’t work in this way.

Another significant difference between the two formats is that the compression rate for ZIP files is lower than that of RAR and the latter uses a better encryption algorithm to protect sensitive data. This means you’ll save a lot more space and you’ll get better protection with RAR files overall.

Compare RAR and ZIP Files

Best Ways to Unzip RAR Files on Mac

As mentioned above, you’ll need to install a third-party application if you want to extract and open RAR files on Mac. While there’s no shortage of applications that you can use for this, we recommend sticking to the top-rated ones.

Below, we explain two methods for opening RAR files that we’ve used and tested. First one is through an application called Commander One and the second one is via Mac Terminal.

Criteria when choosing Mac RAR opener

If you’re on the hunt for a RAR opener for Mac, we suggest taking the following criteria into consideration before you pick one:

  1. It should have the ability to archive and unpack all popular archive formats. Among the most popular formats beside RAR are ZIP and 7Z. It should also be able to create archives of less popular formats, such as GZip and BZip. An app with the support of one format is not enough, even though in most cases it is required to work with RAR archives, as it is often used on servers for incremental backup of files.

  2. The application should be able to view the contents of the archive without having to unpack, as well as updating files in the archive. Without this feature, it won’t be convenient at all.

  3. It should have flexible archiving settings and compatibility of created archives with Windows. These are archiving profiles, and ignoring macOS service files and folders.

  4. One of the key factors for many users is the design of the application, as finding faults in the design of Mac applications can be quite disappointing. Users appreciate macOS for its unique design and ease of use, and can’t use programs that have an outdated interface. That is why a decent Mac RAR opener should keep up with current standards and technology.

  5. Finally, there should be support for it. There is no point in using a software whose latest version was released 5 years ago.

Commander One

Compress files with Commander One

We said we tested an app to open RAR files on Mac and here it is. Commander One is an all-in-one tool to handle all archive files and easily manage all your data. This free file manager offers a dual-panel interface so you can decompress RAR files in one screen and do some other task in the other.

Keep in mind, though, that to work with .rar files in Commander One, you’ll have to upgrade to the Pro version. The free version is limited to .zip files.

Besides offering you the ability to open RAR on Mac Terminal, Commander One comes with many other functions, including:

  • Can be used as an FTP manager.
  • Lets you access Amazon S3, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and other cloud storage solutions on your Mac.
  • Can easily mount iOS or Android devices to manage data.
  • Terminal emulator.
  • Includes various themes.
  • Functions as a dual-panel file manager.

How to Extract RAR Files on Mac via Commander One

Now that you know Commander One is one of the best apps, you’re probably wondering how to unzip RAR files on Mac. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can open the archives using Commander One:
Download and install Commander One on your Mac.
Navigate to the RAR file you want to decompress.
Control-click on the file and select “Extract file” from the list of options.

And that’s it! This RAR extractor for Mac gets the job done for you in just three simple steps. No more wasting time looking for solutions that are either costly or come with a nasty user interface.

How to Use Commander One as Your Default RAR File Extractor on macOS?

To make Commander One your Mac’s default program for RAR files, follow the steps below:

  1. Command-click on any RAR file and select Get Info.
  2. Expand the “Open With” section.
  3. Click on the dropdown field and choose Other.
  4. Select Commander One and click on Add.
  5. Now click on Change All to open all RAR files in Commander One by default.

How to Extract a RAR File on Mac via Terminal?

Now let’s talk about the second method: extracting RAR files on Mac with the help of Terminal. Here are some ways you can do that.

To Start Using Mac Terminal

To extract RAR files using Terminal, you first need to install one of the third-party apps we’ve listed below.

The Unrar console application

WinRAR is one of the most popular applications for extracting RAR files, not just on Mac, but also on Windows. On macOS, it’s only available in the Command Line version, which means you have to enter commands and pass them to your Mac.

Here’s how RAR extraction works on Mac with WinRAR:

  1. First, download the macOS version of WinRAR on your computer.
  2. Then, copy the files, “default.sfx”, “rar”, “rarfiles.lst”, and “unrar”. Go to the folder “usr/local/bin” by clicking on Go > Go to Folder in the menu bar while you’re in Finder.
  3. WinRAR software
  4. Now open “unrar” and also Terminal. In the “unrar” window, you’ll be able to see a list of all commands you can use.
  5. Unrar file
  6. In Terminal, type “unrar [filename.rar]” to extract its contents. Note: don’t forget to remove the brackets.


Homebrew is a package manager on macOS that allows users to install missing packages and perform other functions using a command-line interface. Here’s how it works:

  1. First, download Homebrew on your Mac. You can also install it by typing the following command in Terminal:

    /bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL

  2. Now type “brew install unar” in Terminal.
  3. Mac Terminal's window
  4. Now just type “unar [filename].rar” in Terminal and your RAR file will be extracted.

There’s another way to extract RAR files on Mac using Terminal. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how it works:

  1. Open Terminal by looking for it using Spotlight or in Finder.

  2. Type the following commands:

    cd ~/Downloads/extraction_destination
    unrar x ~/Downloads/The-archive.rar

  3. The “cd” command should be changed to the directory where you want the RAR file to be extracted.

  4. ~/ – is an abbreviation for the first part of the path, name /Users/*Username*.

  5. unrar - tells the app to execute the decompressing process in the specified path.

As you can see, using Terminal to extract RAR files on Mac requires a lot of additional work and some coding knowledge. Therefore, it’s a lot easier to just add Commander One and use its user-friendly interface to get the job done instead of dealing with a command-line interface.

Commander One has a built-in “terminal” in the Pro version. This makes it a great macOS Terminal alternative.


Now that you have all the knowledge about unpacking RAR Mac apps and the entire process involved, including the differences between RAR and ZIP, it’s time to see which method is best and most efficient.

First, we suggest that you always pick an app that has the best and most intuitive user-interface. Why make things more complicated than they have to be?

Second, always go for an app to extract RAR files that gives you lots of extra functions. Commander One is the perfect example of a tool like that. It can handle RAR files with ease on your Mac computer while giving you the ability to use its two panels to easily manage data.

Moreover, you can add extra security to your archives and even add cloud storage to your MacBook. You can download it for free and test its ability to open RAR on Mac and other features yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

To extract multiple RAR files on Mac, there’s nothing extra you have to do. It’s common for files to be compressed in two or more RAR archives as it saves space and makes distribution easier. Just make sure you have all the parts of the archive and then extract them using software that supports RAR files, such as Commander One, like you normally would.
Commander One is a software that works with RAR, ZIP, 7ZIP, and many other file types on Mac. It’s a free tool that has a dual-panel interface for increased productivity and ease of use. The free version only lets you open .zip files. To get RAR files to work on Mac in Commander One, you’ll have to upgrade to the Pro version.
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Commander One

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  • Requirements: Mac (Mac OS X) macOS 10.13 51.85MB of free space.
  • Version 3.7(3831). (25 Sep, 2023). Release notes
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