How to create a text file?

Open and use Notepad
Save the file as a text file
Create a new text file from the Desktop
Create a text file from the Windows command line
Create a text file from within a Linux shell

Open and use Notepad

The easiest way to create a text file in Windows is to open up the Notepad software program on your computer. The Notepad is a text editor included with Microsoft Windows.

Tip: A text file is considered a plaintext file and Notepad is only capable of creating and editing plaintext files. Notepad saves any text file with a .txt file extension, which means no special formatting or fonts can be used.

The Windows Notepad program can be found by following either of the steps below.

  1. Click Start
  2. In the Run or Search box, type Notepad and press enter.

Or

  1. Click Start
  2. Open All Programs > Accessories, then click on the Notepad shortcut.

Save the file as a text file

You can also create a text file using any other word processing software program, like Microsoft Word or WordPad. When saving the file, change the file name or file type to Plain Text to save it as a text file. In many of these programs, you'll also have the option to save the file as a Rich-Text Format.

Save As option

After the file has been created and saved, it can also be edited using Notepad or another word processing software program.

Create a new text file from the Desktop

Another way to create a text file is to right-click on your Desktop screen and in the menu that appears, click New and then click Text Document.

Creating a text file this way opens your default text editor with a blank text file on your Desktop. You can change the name of the file to anything you want. You can edit the file in the Notepad program or any other word processing software program, like Microsoft Word.

Tip: These same steps can be used in any other location on your computer, for example, you could do this in another folder on your computer.

Create a text file from the command line

While in the Windows command line, you also can create a new text file in the current directory. With earlier versions of Windows, a new file of any type, including text files, could be created by using the edit command line command. Later versions of Windows removed the ability to use the edit command for this purpose. Instead, you can use the echo command at the Windows command line to create an empty text file in the current directory. An example of using this shown below.

echo.>myfile.txt

In the above example, you are using the echo command to create a file named "myfile.txt" in the current directory. Note that there are no spaces between "echo", the period, the greater-than sign (">"), and the file name.

Another option for creating a text file from the command line is by using the start command as shown in the example below.

start notepad myfile.txt

In this example, you are using the start command to open Notepad with the file "myfile.txt". Assuming this file does not exist, it would be created and saved in your current directory. If the file did exist, you would be editing that file.

Create a text file from within a Linux shell

There are several commands that can be used to create a text file in a Linux shell. The easiest command to create, view, and edit a text file or plaintext file is the pico command. To use this command, enter the below command at the prompt.

pico myfile.txt

After entering the above command, the editor will be opened and allow you to create a text file. When done, press Ctrl + X to exit the file. When prompted to save the file, if you want to keep the file, press "Y" for yes.

Tip: The .txt file extension is not required in Linux. It is a file extension most commonly found and used with Windows. If you do not need the file to open in Windows, you can have no file extension or rename it to whatever you want.

Additional information

  • See our text file definition for further information on this term and related links.