How to Open a RAR File on Windows 10/11 (Without WinRAR)

So you have come across a RAR file, and you need what’s inside. This article will show you how to open a RAR file on Windows 10 for free.

To open RAR files, download and install 7-Zip and proceed to right-click on the RAR file you wish to open. Hover over 7-Zip and select Extract to (named folder). The files will be extracted from the RAR file and stored in the folder 7-Zip you selected.

There are various compressed files, and 7-Zip does an outstanding job of being able to extract most of them.

Let’s begin by going through each step.

What is a RAR file?

It’s a type of compression for files that is not an open format. It was developed by a Russian software engineer named Eugene Roshal. (Roshal ARchive). It was released in March 1993.

Like Zip files, a RAR file takes any type of file and compresses it to a smaller version.

Steps to open a RAR file archive

how to install 7-zip
Install 7 Zip
Finish 7 Zip Installation
  1. Download and install 7-Zip. It is free, lightweight, and well-coded. It will also install the extra contextual menu item you need for quick and convenient extraction.
  2. After you have installed 7-Zip, open Windows File Explorer.
  3. Navigate to the RAR file you want to open.
  4. Right-click on the RAR file.
  5. Hover your mouse pointer over 7-Zip and select Extract to Folder Name in the slide-out menu.
  6. The extracted contents of the RAR file will now be in the selected folder from the menu.
how to extract rar files using 7-zip
the new folder containing the rar file's extracted contents

This way, you have a copy of all the extracted files in a new folder, instead of working with the files directly in the compressed state.

Do I need an application to open RAR files?

Yes, third-party software is needed to work with them.

Unfortunately, this type of compression isn’t free. There is no native support within Windows to handle them, yet.

Microsoft will add native RAR support in Windows 11 soon, so you won’t need a third-party application.

Generally, there is only one other piece of software I will recommend. And that is WinRAR.

The only downside is that it’s not free.

However, if you need to create them, this would be your chosen program.

Note: 7-Zip is not able to create RAR archives.

What are the advantages of using RAR files?

Using RAR compression allows for slightly better compression ratios compared to Zip files. Other features include storing file attributes in the NTFS file system.

Is WinRAR required to unzip RAR file?

No, other free utilities are available, so you don’t have to purchase and install WinRAR. However, you will need it to create your own RAR files.

Can Chrome open RAR files?

Natively at this stage, no. The Chrome browser cannot open RAR files unless installing an extension enables this ability.

You can find such an extension by searching for it in the Chrome Web Store.


With so many compression types, your safest format will be a Zip file. However, RAR files are only about four years younger than Zip files.

If you need every bit of critical space on the media you are storing your compressed file on, RARs might be for you.