How to Password Protect a RAR File

You may want to password-protect RAR files when they contain sensitive information. Here, you will learn how to set a password for WinRAR and secure files on Windows and Mac PCs.
Password Protect a RAR File

It is crucial to password-protect RAR files. Doing so makes them easily transferrable and prevents your information from unwanted and unintentional exposure and unauthorized access. Considering this, the following sections teach how to password-protect RAR files on Windows or Mac computers.

WARNING: When using WinRAR or any other archiving tool to encrypt your data, ensure that you note the password and keep it in a safe place.

Password Protect a RAR File on Windows

WinRAR is the best tool to password-protect a RAR file on Windows, which you can download from its official website. Although WinRAR is a paid program that offers a 40-day trial period, you can continue using it forever, even after the trial ends.

Assuming that you have already downloaded and installed the app on your Windows computer, the steps given below explain how to set a password for WinRAR to protect your data:

Step 1: Choose RAR as the Archive Type in WinRAR

Right-click the file or folder you want to set the password for. Hover the mouse pointer over the WinRAR option in the context menu, and click Add to archive from the submenu. On the Archive name and parameters box, ensure that the RAR radio button is selected in the Archive format section.

Add to archive

Click Set password from the lower-right area.

Set password

Step 2: Set a Password and (Optionally) Choose an Encryption Structure

Type a strong password in the Enter password field, and retype it in Reenter password for verification. Optionally, check the Encrypt file names box to enhance the protection. Click OK to save the changes.

Enter password

Step 3: Define the Destination Folder and Encrypt the RAR File

Back on the Archive name and parameters box, click Browse from the upper-right area and set a destination folder. Next, click OK to save the RAR file with WinRAR.

save the RAR file

Note: WinRAR creates a separate archive file when you compress an object, leaving the original piece intact. To ensure data security, do not forget to delete the main content from your PC.

Additional Tips

To password-protect an existing RAR file:

  • Double-click the file to open it in WinRAR
  • Go to Options > Settings
  • Go to the Compression tab
  • Click Create default
  • From here, follow the instructions explained above to set a password for the WinRAR file.

Add a Password to RAR Files on Mac

Unfortunately, no free tool password-protects RAR files on Mac. The paid programs you can try include UnRarX, RAR Extractor – Unarchiver, etc.  However, if you don’t want to invest funds, luckily, there is a workaround you can use to compress and encrypt your content in a ZIP archive instead. The best thing is that this workaround is free, as it requires you to run merely a few commands in the Terminal window. Therefore, you don’t have to install any app on your Mac computer to use this method.

Also Read: How to Password Protect a ZIP File on Mac

The step-by-step process to password-protect RAR files using the Terminal commands on Mac is given below:

Step 1: Launch Terminal

Create a new folder on the desktop and move all sensitive files into it. Next, launch Finder, go to Applications > Utilities, and double-click Terminal.

Add a Password to RAR Files on Mac

Step 2: Password-Protect the Folder

Inside the Terminal window, type zip -er <filename>.zip, press Spacebar, and drag the target folder from the desktop into it to add the correct path to the command.

Note: Replace <filename> with the archive file name you want to create. For example, to create an encrypted file as, the command will be zip -er followed by the path of the folder you dragged into Terminal.

Once done, press Enter, type a strong password, and press Enter again. When Terminal prompts, retype the password for confirmation and press Enter to password-protect the file on Mac.

Close the Terminal window when done.

Step 3: Access the Encrypted File

Close all windows and boxes. Click Go from the menu bar at the top, and go to Home. You will find the encrypted ZIP file here.


Who can access the contents of a password-protected RAR file?

Anyone with the correct password can open the RAR file and access its data. The trouble starts once you forget your password and cannot recall it.

Is there any way I can get my password back if I forgot it?

It is neither recommended nor should you pick this route, as it’s illegal and unethical. However, if you own the file, you can recover your forgotten password using web solutions and third-party apps. Check the detailed guide here.

Which is the best solution to password-protect RAR files?

WinRAR would be your best bet when using Windows, as it’s non-technically free. On the other hand, if you are a Mac user, you may need to pay a hefty amount to encrypt RAR files using a Mac-compatible app. As a workaround, taking the Terminal commands route would be good to keep your data safe when on an Apple computer.

Is there a way to password-protect an existing unsecured RAR file?

If you have a plain compressed file with no security measures, you can password-protect the RAR archive by opening it in WinRAR (on Windows), going to the Options menu, and clicking Settings. On the box that opens next, go to Compression, click Create Default, and continue from there. Nevertheless, the easiest way to get the identical output would be by uncompressing/unarchiving/extracting the contents from the RAR file and recompressing them using any of the above-mentioned methods.


It is easy to set a password for WinRAR on a Windows PC, as the tool is free and works perfectly even after its trial period. On the contrary, encrypting an archive on a Mac is pretty challenging. Although you can simplify the process using a third-party program, most of them prompt you for payment before securing your data. Therefore, the best workaround on Macs is not to password-protect RAR files but to encrypt them as ZIP using the built-in Terminal app.

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