What Is an XAR File?

Your XAR could be a compressed file, a vector drawing, or an Excel backup file

What to Know

  • Some XAR files are compressed files in the Extensible Archive format.
  • Open one with 7-Zip or PeaZip, or the xar utility.
  • Convert to other archives like 7Z or ZIP with a file converter.

This article describes the different formats that use the XAR file extension, including which programs open each type and how to convert the file to a format that will open in other programs.

What Is an XAR File?

A file with the XAR file extension is usually associated with the Extensible Archive format. macOS uses these files for software installations (replacing the need for the GZ format). Safari browser extensions also use this same file format.

Microsoft Excel uses an XAR file to save documents under its AutoRecover feature. No matter what Excel file type is actively being used, all open files are periodically and automatically saved to a default location with this file extension.

The default file format in Xara graphic design software uses this same suffix to indicate that the drawing is in the vector format.

XAR files that open with PeaZip in Windows 10

How to Open an XAR File

Compressed XAR archives can be opened with popular compression/decompression programs. Our two favorites are 7-Zip and PeaZip. If you use 7-Zip, right-click the file and choose 7-Zip > Open archive to open it.

Unix-based systems can use the xar utility to open XAR files. This command will extract the contents of yourfile.xar to the current working directly:

 xar -xf yourfile.xar

If it's a Safari browser extension that you have, it probably has the .safariextz extension attached to it because that's what the browser uses to identify such extensions. To use an XAR file as a browser extension, you have to first rename it and then open the .safariextz to install it in Safari.

However, since a .safariextz file is really just a renamed XAR file, you can open it with one of the decompression programs mentioned above to see its contents. Know, however, that opening this type of file in a program like 7-Zip won't let you use the extension like it was intended, but you will get to see the different files that make up the browser extension software.

Xara Designer Pro X can open XAR files that are drawings. Xara Xtreme for Linux is a free way to open the file.

How to Open XAR Excel Files

By default, as part of its AutoRecover feature, Excel auto-saves open files every so often in the event of a power outage or other unexpected shutdown of the program.

However, instead of saving the document in the format you're editing it in, and in the location you've saved it in, Excel saves to XAR in the following folder:


One example of an XAR file Excel might create is ~ar3EE9.xar. As you can see, the file is randomly named, so searching for it can be difficult. The file is also hidden and may be considered a protected system file.

To recover an Excel file that has been auto-saved, either search your computer for all .XAR files (Everything makes this easy) or open the default location shown above to find these files manually.

Finding an auto-saved Excel document in the above location requires that you're viewing hidden files and protected operating system files. See How to Show Hidden Files and Folders in Windows if you need help doing that.

Once you've found the file, you have to rename the file extension to one that Excel will recognize, like XLSX or XLS. Once finished, you should be able to open the file in Excel like you would any other.

If renaming doesn't work, you can try to open it in Excel directly using the Open and Repair option next to the Open button when browsing your computer for it. For this, you'll need to be sure you've chosen All Files from above the Open button.

XAR file used by Excel

How to Convert an XAR File

If the XAR file is in an archive format, it can be converted to other similar formats like ZIP, 7Z, GZ, TAR, and BZ2 using the free FileZigZag online file converter.

As you read above, the best way to convert one that was auto-saved in Excel is to just change the file extension to one that the software recognizes. If after you've saved the final file to XLSX or some other spreadsheet format, you want to convert that file to a different format, just plug it into a document file converter.

Converting an XAR file that's used by an Xara product is probably best done through the program that uses it. This may be found in something like the File > Save as option or in an Export menu.

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