Text File on a Mac

A text file is one of the simplest types of files you can create on a computer. It can be opened by many different programs and doesn't include any special formatting, fonts, images or other embedded data. You can create one with almost any desktop, laptop or smart phone operating system on the market.

Still, there are differences between text files. Files can have different character encodings, which refers to how letters and other symbols such as emoji are translated into the numerical systems used by computers to store data. Common encodings in the United States include ASCII and Unicode, but there are other encodings used in other places for different languages.

Most Mac text file processing programs and other tools can automatically detect the encoding of a file, but if the wrong encoding is used, a file may be fully or partially illegible.

Different operating systems sometimes use different ways to represent the ending of a line of text. Many modern programs can handle multiple alternatives, but files can sometimes be mangled when sending them back and forth between operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS and Linux.

Using TextEdit

TextEdit is an application on every Mac that you can use to create and edit text files. It's included with all versions of macOS and OS X.

Find TextEdit in the Applications folder on your Mac computer. By default, it creates formatted documents saved in rich text format, but you can use it to create a plain text file on a Mac. 

To do so, launch the program, click the "Format" menu and select "Make Plain Text."

Use the "Open" command in the "File" menu to find, open and edit existing text documents.