If you spend any time using a computer, then you probably know what .txt files are. They are files that contain plain unformatted text and have a variety of uses for many different applications. If you’re not familiar with them, no worries we will explain further here.
While TXT files are very simple text files, they are also very versatile and commonly used across many operating systems on all types of computers and devices. You may have even seen them on your phone.
My name is Eric and I have been a software engineer for over 20 years. Over that time, I have worked with many different types of files and formats. TXT files are very common in the software development world and something that I work with all the time.
If you would like to find out more about TXT files, what they are, how to create them, what they are used for, and more. Keep reading and we will explore this everyday file format some more.
What is a TXT File?
Before we get around to creating a .txt file on your Mac, let’s first take a look at what a TXT file is.
A TXT file, also called a text file, as its name implies is a file that contains text. The text can be any ASCII characters and usually (but not always) has a .txt extension. These files contain plain text that can be viewed and read by the human eye.
They do not contain any graphics or the kind of formatting you might see in a .doc or .pdf file. These are just simple files but there are a few different encoding standards that they can use. The encoding is not that important to us, since most applications handle that part of it.
This encoding decides how the characters are read and displayed and it is done behind the scenes by the application. There can also be differences from operating systems for things such as the end of line characters known as line feed (LF) and carriage return (CR).
These tell the reader when to start the next line. Mac, Windows, and Linux all handle these differently but most modern text applications can detect and display this properly no matter what system it was created on.
If not you may see one long line of text that never wraps around or breaks on the display or you may see the text on multiple lines but they may all have a \n or \r at the end of them. Thankfully most applications can convert and display the text file in a way that you and I can read it.
If you are wanting or needing to create a text file of your own on your Mac, you won’t need to worry about the encoding or line endings. Your Mac’s text editor will take care of all that. So if you are ready to create a TXT file let’s move on to the next section and get started.
Creating a TXT File on Your Mac
If you want to create a simple text file on your Mac, you will find that it is just as simple as creating any other document. Using the TextEdit application which is provided with your macOS you can do this in a matter of minutes or even less depending on what you put in the file.
Let’s get started.
Step 1: First open the TextEdit application on your Mac. You can do this however you normally find and open applications. If you are unsure, Click on Launchpad, type TextEdit in the search window, and then click on the TextEdit icon.
Step 2: Once the app starts up, go to the TextEdit menu at the top of the screen. Click on TextEdit and select Preferences.
Step 3: In the Preferences window make sure that the Plain Text option is selected.
Step 4: Close the Preferences window.
Step 5: Select New Document at the bottom of the window.
Step 6: Enter whatever text you would like to be in your text file. You can type the text or cut and paste from another source.
Step 7: Save the document by going to the menu and selecting File->Save… or hit the Command+S keys.
Step 8: Enter a new name for the text file or leave the default if you wish. You can also select a new location for the file or leave the default location.
Step 9: Click on the Save button and you will now have a TXT file.
What is a TXT File Used for?
As you can see from the steps above, text files are very easy to create. It is a quick way to get some text you have copied, some notes you wish to take, or any other text you may wish to save for whatever reason, into a file that can be read and edited on almost any system or device.
TXT files are also commonly used in the software development world. Applications often create text files behind the scenes that may be used to save information or process the information for later use. They are also used to create log files for debugging purposes.
Many times if you look in the file folders of an application you will see them. They don’t always use the .txt extension on them and sometimes have no extension at all. There is often a text file in many application folders called README.txt or just README.
These are called readme files and often contain important information about an application. It may have instructions for installing or running the application and is often used by developers to help provide information about it.
As a software engineer, I use text files all the time. I do use them to process information as described above but my main use for them is to take notes.
It is a quick and simple way for me to jot down quick notes, without needing to start up a slower more cumbersome word processing application. If I am on a call or in a meeting, it’s easy to open up a text file and type in some notes that I might use later.
I also use text files to copy text from one location to another. I might copy text or source code from one file, paste it into a text file and then modify it, copy it, and paste it somewhere else such as an email or a webpage I am designing.
The TXT or .txt file is one of the most versatile file types around. It can be opened, read, and edited on almost any computer system or device. They are quick and easy to use and their countless uses make them a plain but needed tool for many computer users.
I hope the steps above have shown you how to create a text file on your Mac. As usual, let us know if you have any issues creating your .txt file.
Do you have any unique uses for text files? Let me know if you do, I would love to hear from you!