How to Open RAR Files in Windows 11/10

Learn the different methods to easily open RAR (.rar) files on Windows 11 and 10, with native solutions and third-party options included.

RAR files are a popular form of data compression that is commonly found on the internet. These files are often used to compress large files, making them easier to share, download, and store.

However, with the release of Windows 11/10, many users have struggled to figure out how to open these files on their systems. In this article, we will provide detailed instructions on how to open RAR files in Windows 11/10 and give tips on downloading, extracting, and managing them with ease.

How to Open RAR Files in Windows 11/10

Table of Contents

  1. What are RAR Files?
  2. Are RAR Files Safe?
  3. Opening RAR Files in Windows 11/10
  4. Step 1: Download a RAR File Extractor
  5. Step 2: Install the RAR File Extractor
  6. Step 3: Open the RAR File
  7. Step 4: Manage the Extracted Files
  8. Frequently Asked Questions

What are RAR Files?

RAR stands for "Roshal Archive," named after the Russian programmer who created the compression format. RAR files are similar to ZIP files but use a different compression algorithm that can result in higher compression rates. This means that RAR files can often be smaller in size than other compressed files, making them a popular choice for sharing large files.

The RAR file format was developed by Eugene Roshal, who released the first version in 1993. Now, it's maintained by his brother Alexander Roshal as part of the WinRAR software application. The file extension “.rar” is recognized worldwide and can be opened on almost any computer platform using tools such as PeaZip or 7-zip. 

Today, the RAR archive format has become an industry standard for compressing digital information. It saves time and money when sending large emails or downloading multimedia from the internet in bulk quantity. Users love it because it operates without compromising data quality or integrity. It's important to know how you can open these files on Windows 11/10.

Are RAR Files Safe?

RAR files are generally safe, depending on what’s inside them. As with all types of compressed archives, the content stored within a RAR can vary greatly depending on its origin and who created it. You should exercise caution when downloading or opening these files, especially if they have been sourced from unknown websites or individuals.

While some may contain legitimate materials such as photos or documents, others could potentially include malicious software like viruses or malware that could damage your computer. You should always scan RAR files from suspicious or unknown sources with your antivirus app before opening or extracting them.

Opening RAR Files in Windows 11/10

Now that you know what RAR files are and how to stay safe when opening them, let's look at how to open them in Windows 11/10. Here's a rundown on how to open a RAR file on Windows 11/10:

  1. Download and install a RAR file extractor of your choice.
  2. Open the location of your RAR file, and right-click on it.
  3. Look for a context menu that is associated with your RAR file extractor.
  4. Hover your mouse over the extractor option, and choose "Open" or "Extract here."
  5. If you chose to extract the file, you could select a path to extract the files to. This may also differ depending on the extractor you are using.
  6. If the RAR file has a password, you need to enter it. Some extractors also give you extra choices, like choosing how much compression or picking certain files.

Now, let's dive into the steps in more detail.

Step 1: Download a RAR File Extractor

Windows can't natively open and extract RAR files, so you must download a program to do the job. While no single RAR extractor can be definitively said to be the best, WinRAR is an industry-recognized standard for unpacking files archived in the popular RAR format. It's available as both a paid and freemium version.

7-Zip may be a good option for people looking for a free alternative that provides functionality similar to WinRAR; it supports dozens of formats beyond RAR compression with Windows 11 and 10 versions available. It's free and open source, making it a great choice for users on a budget.

Whatever extractor you select should include all the required features. To help with your choice, below is a list of five file extractors that can open RAR files:

Step 2: Install the RAR File Extractor

file extractor installers

Once you've found a trustworthy extractor, download the latest version compatible with your system from the official website and launch the installer. The on-screen instructions guide you through each step, making the process a breeze. After the installation, you will have immediate access to the tool, allowing you to extract compressed files easily. 

Most extractors are lightweight, meaning they won't cause your system to slow down since the software takes very little memory and processor power. After installation, you may be prompted to restart your system, so save any open files first.

Step 3: Open the RAR File

After installing the extractor, open the location where your RAR file is stored and right-click it. A context menu with an option to open or extract the file content with the RAR extractor you just installed should appear. Typically, you'll see options like "Open," "Extract," or "Extract here."

open or extract rar file with winrar

Opening and extracting a RAR file are two very different actions. When you open a RAR file, it merely displays the contents of the compressed archive. It's similar to opening a folder on your computer. You can see what’s inside without doing anything to the archived items themselves.

Extracting, however, is an entirely different process. Extraction refers to decompressing and unpacking those archived files so that you can use them for whatever purpose they were intended for in the first place. Extracting a RAR file means uncompressing its contents into individual documents or packages that can be used as stand-alone items on your device without further steps.

Step 4: Manage the Extracted Files

If you choose to extract the RAR file, it's vital that you manage its contents properly. Once the RAR file has been extracted, you can access the contents like any other file on your system. You can move, copy, delete, or modify the files.

In addition to these basic steps, several tips can help you manage RAR files more effectively:

  • Organize your RAR files: Create a separate folder for all your RAR files and organize them by category or date. This will make finding the files you need easier and keep your system organized.
  • Delete unnecessary files: After extracting the contents of a RAR file, make sure to delete the original file to free up space on your system.
  • Remove the original RAR file: When you're done extracting the contents of a RAR file, make sure to delete the original file from your system. This will free up space and prevent redundant copies from cluttering your system.
delete rar file after extracting

These tips will help you use RAR files efficiently and save time when extracting them. With the right tools and instructions, opening compressed files in Windows 11/10 should be easy and straightforward. Knowing how to open RAR files on your system is essential for efficiently managing large archives.


What is a RAR file?

A RAR file is a compressed file format commonly used to share and store large files. It is similar to other compressed file formats, such as ZIP, but uses a different compression algorithm that can result in higher compression rates.

How do you open a RAR file?

You need to download a RAR file extractor to open and extract RAR files. Several free and paid options are available online, but WinRAR is the most popular and reliable option.

What are the benefits of using RAR files?

RAR files have several benefits over other compressed file formats. They use a more efficient compression algorithm which allows for higher compression rates, resulting in smaller file sizes. It’s also a widely used format, meaning most extractors can open it.

Is it safe to open a RAR file?

It's safe to open a RAR file if you know where it came from and what's in it. It might be unsafe if it came from a suspicious website or an unknown source. To stay safe, only download RAR files from trusted websites or people you know. Always scan RAR archives before opening or extracting the contents using antivirus software.

What is the difference between ZIP and RAR?

The main difference between ZIP and RAR is their compression algorithm. ZIP uses a compression algorithm known as DEFLATE, a relatively simple algorithm that compresses data without too much processing power. On the other hand, RAR uses a more advanced compression algorithm capable of achieving higher compression rates than ZIP.

What are some common issues with RAR files in Windows?

One common issue with RAR files in Windows is that they may not open correctly if they are corrupted or incomplete. This can happen if the file is not downloaded or transferred correctly.


The ".rar" file type is a popular form of data compression, and many users are still trying to figure out how to open them. This article provided instructions for opening RAR files in Windows 11 and Windows 10 and tips on downloading, extracting, and managing them. Opening RAR files should be a breeze with the right tools and instructions.

We hope this article was helpful and you now know how to open RAR files on your system. Take advantage of this brilliant file format to compress data and maximize your storage space.

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