The Unarchiver is a much more capable replacement for “Archive”, the built-in archive unpacker program on Mac OS X. The Unarchiver is designed to handle many more formats than Archive Utility, and to better fit in with the design of the Finder. It can also handle filenames in foreign character sets, created with non-English versions of other operating systems. I personally find it useful for opening Japanese archives, but it should handle many other languages just as well.


It is very simple to use and install – simply copy it into your Applications folder or whereever you prefer, and then set archive filetypes to open using it. This can either be done the usual way, or by double-clicking the icon to show The Unarchiver’s preferences.

Supported file formats include Zip, Tar-GZip, Tar-BZip2, RAR, 7-zip, LhA, StuffIt and many other old and obscure formats. See further down the page for a more complete list of supported formats.

Other platforms

The Unarchiver is a Mac OS X app, but the underlying unarchiving code can be run on other OSes too. There is so far no GUI app for any other OS, but there are two command-line tools, unar and lsar, which can be used on Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. These are in development and should be considered beta software, but do work.

The Windows versions are currently cross-compiled with Cocotron on OS X. You can download binary versions on the Google Code download page:

On Linux, you will need to download the source code and compile the tools by hand. To do this, you will need to find and install the required third-party libraries that the XADMaster library depends on (GNUstep, zlib, libbzip2, OpenSSL, and ICU). How to do that depends on which distribution you are using. On Ubuntu, the following should work:

sudo apt-get install build-essential libgnustep-base-dev libz-dev libbz2-dev libssl-dev libicu-dev
cd XADMaster
make -f Makefile.linux
Supported formats

An incomplete list of formats supported by The Unarchiver follows below. The libxad library which is part of The Unarchiver supports even more old formats, especially Amiga-specific ones.

Supported popular formats
Format Support level Notes
Zip Full Full support for the normal zip format, with additional support for AES encryption, Zip64 extensions for large files, Mac OS extensions of many different kinds, and several unusual compression methods (Deflate64, Bzip, LZMA, PPMd). Can also extract .EXE self-extracting files using Zip.
RAR Full Including encryption and multiple volumes. Can also extract .EXE self-extracting files using RAR.
7z No encryption Most compression methods are supported, but no encryption. Also supports Unix extensions.
Tar Full
Gzip Full
Bzip2 Full
LZMA, XZ Full Both the old “LZMA-alone” format, usually named .lzma, and the new .xz format.
CAB Full
MSI Full This format is also used by many other Microsoft formats, meanings that you can use The Unarchiver to extract internal data from DOC and PPT files, and others. There is probably no reason to do this, but you can.
NSIS Extensive Supports many different versions, starting from version 1.1o
EXE Some Many kinds of .exe self-extracting formats are supported. However, if you find one that is not, please post an issue on the bug tracker.
Split files Basic Can join files named .001, .002 that do not use any extra wrapper format.
Supported old formats
Format Support level Was popular on Notes
StuffIt No encryption Mac OS Can unpack all files I’ve been able to locate.
StuffIt X Partial Mac OS Can unpack many files, some more obscure features are still unsupported. JPEG compression is also unsupported.
DiskDoubler Almost full Mac OS All compression algorithms are implemented, but a few rare ones are untested. If you have some files that do not work, please post them in issue 149 on the bug tracker.
Compact Pro No encryption Mac OS
PackIt Full Mac OS
Cpio Full Unix
Compress (.Z) Full Unix
ARJ No multi-part DOS
ARC, PAK Full DOS Full support for all algorithms, including proprietary ones from PAK. Encryption only works in command-line utilities.
Ace Only old files DOS No support for Ace 2.0 and up (WinAce).
Zoo Full DOS
LZH Full DOS, Amiga (as LhA)
ADF FFS Amiga (emulated) Can extract files from Amiga disk images using the regular FFS file system.
DMS FFS Amiga Can extract files from compressed Amiga disk images using the regular FFS file system.
LZX Full Amiga
PowerPacker Full Amiga
Squeeze Full CP/M, DOS
Crunch Full CP/M
… Many other old formats, especially Amiga-specific ones, are also supported through libxad, but I have not made a full survey of which ones.
Supported unusual formats
Format Support level Notes
XAR Full Suggested replacement for Tar on Unix. Used in some newer .pkg files on Mac OS X.
RPM Full Linux package format.
ALZip No encryption Archive format which is mainly popular in South Korea. Support for all known compression methods, including Bzip2, Deflate and obfuscated Deflate.
NSA, SAR Partial Game data file. Can unpack all files I’ve found. If you have ones that do not unpack, please post an issue.
NDS Full Nintendo DS ROM image, which can contain a file system.
If you have a compressed file that The Unarchiver does not open, please post a bug on the bug tracker, and include the file in question, and I will look into whether it is possible to add support for it!

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