How to create a text file
To create a text file or .txt file on a computer you need a text editor such as Notepad that comes pre-installed with Microsoft Windows.
Note: When we refer to a "text file" we are talking about a plain text file without any text formatting (e.g., bold), images, different fonts, font sizes, etc. If you need to create a more rich document with any of these features see how to create a document.
Tip: The below recommendations are for programs included with an operating system. You can also download and install a more powerful and free text editor such as Notepad++ to create, view, and edit text files.
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.
- Click Start
- 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
- How to open and view the contents of a file on a computer.
- See our text file definition for further information on this term and related links.