Open Zip, RAR, TAR and BIN files on Mac

Most of the files you download from the Internet are usually in an archive format and have one of the formats used for compressed and archived files. Opening these ZIP, RAR, TAR and BIN files on a Mac seems impossible on the first try because your machine is not compatible with these formats by default.

Attempting to open these incompatible file formats will just throw an error on your screen letting you know that the file you’re trying to open can’t be opened. Since these file formats are some of the common ones, and you’re likely to come across them now and then, you’ll want to do something to make your Mac compatible with these formats.

Fortunately, there are ways to add support for the aforementioned file formats to your Mac.

Open ZIP, RAR, TAR, BIN and EXE on Mac with Unarchive

If you are looking for a single application or utility that can handle all the file formats mentioned above, then The Unarchiver is the app or utility that can do it all. It’s a great freeware that adds support for basically all existing archive formats and allows you to decompress them on your Mac.

  • Launch the App Store on your Mac, search for The Unarchiver, and install it on your machine.
  • Once it’s installed, you’ll need to set it as the default app for your unsupported file formats. To do this, first launch the app by clicking Launcherssearch The Unarchiverand click application.
Unarchive menu in the Search Bar
  • You will most likely arrive at the Preferences pane for the app. If you don’t, click Archiver menu at the top and select Interests to get to the window.
Unarchive Options menu
  • Make sure you are in Archive Format as this is where you can choose the format the app will open on your Mac. Select all the ones you want the app to open and you’re done.
  • If you don’t have the option to choose a file format, you’ll need to manually set the app as the default app for each file format. To do this, select any file with one of the formats mentioned above, right click on it and select Receive information.
Get information selected in the right-click menu
  • When the Get Info menu opens, look for an option that says Open with. Use the drop-down menu to select The Unarchiver from the list and then click the button that says Change all. It will associate the application with all files in the same format as your current file.
Open with and change all highlighted in the Get Info window

The next time you double-click your file, The Unarchiver will automatically launch and open it for you.

You will need to perform the steps above for each file format you want to open with the app.

Open ZIP on Mac without app

Since ZIP is an extremely popular and widely used format, macOS had to make an exception and include it in their supported file formats. You can actually open ZIP on Mac without installing any third-party apps.

Using the Graphical User Interface:

  • To open a ZIP file on your Mac, locate it using Finder.
  • Double click on the ZIP file and it will be extracted in the same folder.
sample zip file and extract file

You will then be able to view the extracted contents of the archive.

Use Terminal to Open ZIP on Mac

The Terminal app also supports decompressing ZIP archives without installing anything on your Mac.

  1. Launch End use your preferred way on your computer.
  2. Enter the following command and press enter. It will set your desktop as the destination folder for the extracted files.

    desktop cd

Terminal window with command: cd desktop
  • Enter the following command instead with the actual name and path for your file. You can drag and drop your file into Terminal and the path will be added.


Terminal window with command: extract

The contents of your ZIP file should now be available on your desktop.

Open RAR on Mac using two methods

If it’s just the RAR format you want to open on your Mac, you have two ways to do it.

Use Extractor to open RAR on Mac

There is a free app on the App Store that allows you to extract RAR as well as several other archive formats on your machine.

  1. Launch the App Store, search for Unpacker, and download it to your Mac.
  2. Open the app and you will see an interface asking you to add a repository. Drag and drop your RAR archive into the app and it will open for you.
Main window of the extractor

Use terminal to open RAR on Mac

You can also open RAR files with Terminal, but you need to install a utility first.

  • Launch End on your Mac.
  • Enter the following command and press enter. It will install Homebrew, a software management system.
ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"
Terminal window with command: cd desktop unrar x sample.rar

Open TAR on Mac using only terminal

Just like ZIP, Mac also has built-in TAR support, and you can open TAR files on your Mac without installing any utilities.

Terminal window with command: cd desktop tar -xzf sample.tar

It will extract the contents of the TAR archive to your desktop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.