What Is an XAR File?

How to Open, Edit, and Convert XAR Files

Screenshot of several XAR files that open with PeaZip in Windows 10
XAR Files.

A file with the XAR file extension is usually associated with the Extensible Archive format.

macOS uses these types of XAR files for software installations (replacing the need for the GZ archive format). Safari browser extensions also use this same XAR file format.

Microsoft Excel uses the XAR file format 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 an .XAR file extension.

XAR files are also used as the default file format in Xara graphic design software.

How to Open an XAR File

XAR files that are compressed archive files can be opened with popular compression/decompression programs. My two favorites are 7-Zip and PeaZip. With 7-Zip, for example, you can right-click the XAR file and choose 7-Zip > Open archive to open it.

If an XAR file is a Safari browser extension file, 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 I mentioned above to see its contents. Please 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 products can open XAR files that are intended for use in those graphics programs.

How to Open XAR Excel Files

By default, as part of its AutoRecover feature, Microsoft Excel auto-saves open files every 10 minutes in the event of a power outage or other unexpected shutdown of Excel.

However, instead of saving the document in the format you're editing it in, and in the location you've saved it in, Excel uses the .XAR file extension in the following folder:


Note: The <username> section is named whatever your username is. If you're not sure what yours is, open up the Users folder in Windows and look at the folders listed - you'll probably spot yours, which is probably your first or full name.

One example of an XAR file Excel might create is ~ar3EE9.xar. As you can see, the XAR 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 (using the built-in search function or a free tool like Everything) or open the default location I showed above to find the XAR files manually.

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

Once you've found the XAR 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 the XAR file doesn't work, you can try to open the XAR in Excel directly using the Open and Repair... option next to the Open button when browsing your computer for the XAR file.

For this, you'll need to be sure you've chosen the All Files option from above the Open button instead of the default All Excel Files option.

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 I mentioned above, the best way to convert an XAR file that was auto-saved in Excel is to just change the file extension to one that Excel recognizes. If after you've saved the final file to XLSX or some other Excel format, you want to convert that file to a different format, just plug it into a free 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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