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How to create a text file with TextEdit on macOS

macOS comes with some of the best stock apps you’ll find on any desktop OS. Its Photos app is unparalleled, and recent Macs that come with newer macOS versions will come with the iWork apps installed by default. This includes apps like iMovie and Garage Band. macOS has excellent apps for editing videos, and managing an extensive photos library and it stands to reason that it would come with a simple text editor that can create a text file.

The stock text editing app on macOS is TextEdit and when you save a document created in this app, it doesn’t present TXT as a format to save the file as. It will list DOC but not TXT and that might make users think the app can’t create a plain text file. That isn’t true. You need to tweak one little setting in the app to create a text file with TextEdit.

Text file with TextEdit

When you open TextEdit on macOS, it opens as an RTF editor. This is its default mode and in this mode you can apply various formatting styles to text. A TXT file has no text styles applied to it. As such, the file that you make in TextEdit has components that can’t be part of a simple TXT file which is why it doesn’t show up as a save option.

To open TextEdit as a simple text editor instead of an RTF editor, you need to go to the app’s preferences. The Preferences window has two tabs. For our purpose, the New Document tab is what’s important. The very first section on this tab is the ‘Format’ section and it has two options that you have to chose from; Rich Text, and Plain Text. Select the ‘Plain Text’ option, and then open a new TextEdit file. This time, it will open a simple text editing window.

The text that you type and save will be saved as a simple TXT file. You can change the font that’s used but that is a system specific setting. You cannot give the text a color, underline it, bold it, or strike it through. All these basic text styles will no longer work.

Although you cannot apply any formatting styles to the text, you can now use TextEdit to create all sorts of other files e.g., an SRT i.e., subtitle file, or a script, or any other file that’s basically a text file but with a different file extension.

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