How to Open .RAR Files in Windows 10

This short guide will explain step by step how to open RAR Files in Windows so that you can access the contents of the file.

NOTE: the steps in this tutorial are identical if you’re trying to open a .DMG or .tar.gz file in Windows as well – so this guide could just as easily be called “How to Open .RAR, .DMG and .tar.gz Files in Windows” :) Those formats are typically found on Mac and Linux/Unix systems – so being able to open them on a Windows device can be very handy.

a .RAR file in Windows 10 File Manager

  1. Going into almost no detail at all, a .rar file is a lot like a .zip file. It’s one or more files/folders all combined into one file – a RAR. Here’s how you open .RAR Files in Windows 10 so you can get to the contents inside.
  2. Unlike ZIP files, RAR files require software that doesn’t come included with Windows itself. Fortunately there’s a fantastic, small and free app that does let you open .RAR files. Head over to the 7-Zip download page (link opens in a new window/tab) and download the 7-Zip for 64-bit Windows x64 (Intel 64 or AMD64) version of 7-Zip, unless you’re absolutely certain you don’t have a 64-bit version of Windows 10 (to find out which you have, follow this short guide).
  3. select the version of 7-zip you want to download

  4. Double-click the 7-Zip installer file to install the app. Make sure to install it to the default location – which is in C:\Program Files\. If you need to install it to another location you can, just make sure to remember exactly where, you’ll need to know in an upcoming step.
  5. After you’ve installed 7-Zip, double-click (or tap if you have a Windows 10 tablet) the .RAR file you want to open.
  6. an arrow pointing at a .RAR file in Windows 10 File Manager

  7. Select More apps from the menu that appears.
  8. the windows 10 open a file dialogue box

  9. Now select Look for another app on this PC
  10. the how do you want to open this file dialogue box in windows 10

  11. When the “Open With” dialog box appears, double-click your C: drive and then the Program Files folder (as illustrated in the screenshot below).
  12. a windows 10 file manager with an arrow pointing at the program files directory

  13. Open the Z-Zip folder.
  14. a windows 10 file manager with an arrow pointing at the 7-zip directory

  15. Select the file 7zFM.exe and then click Open
  16. a windows 10 file manager with an arrow pointing at the file named 7zFM.exe

  17. 7-Zip will launch and open the .RAR file. Now it’s time to extract (copy) the files and folders out from inside the RAR. Select all of the files/folders and then click the Extract button.
  18. the 7-zip app main window

  19. By default, the files and folders will be extracted to the same location the RAR file is in – click OK to begin that process.
  20. the 7-zip extract files window

  21. Depending on the size and the number of files stored in the .RAR file, it may take anywhere from under a second to a few minutes to copy all of that data. Once the process has completed, all of data that was inside the RAR file is now accessible! Note: the next time you have to open a RAR file you won’t have to repeat this process – the RAR will simply open with 7-Zip.
  22. the windows 10 file manager showing an open RAR file in Windows

  23. That’s it – you’re done!

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24 thoughts on “How to Open .RAR Files in Windows 10”

  1. .RAR files can be password protected, the same as .ZIP files. You’ll need to get the password from the person who created the .RAR file. Hope this helps :)

  2. Thanks for the great explanation. Why can’t all help search lead to such easy to understand instructions. Well done!

  3. Thank you so much thank you thank you I thought I wasted 3 hours because I couldn’t open it! Thank you thank you so much!

  4. @Tichomir –
    Probably has something to do with licensing. Or Microsoft just doesn’t want to acknowledge it as a format.

  5. Tichomir Dunlop

    Does someone know why RAR files cannot be opened by default in Windows 10? Thanks!

  6. Valerie Lowe-Williams

    Thanks for the 7-Zip file, but now I can’t run the program. My computer keep saying this App can’t run on your PC find a version from your publisher! Does this app work on windows 10? what app can I use?

  7. Wow! I’ve never heard of a PC having 7-Zip pre-installed, that’s pretty amazing. You’re totally right about Winzip working – as does WinRAR. Unfortunately, both still cost $, and I’ve never found a feature in either one that isn’t in 7-Zip as well…

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