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How to Use Plain Text Mode in TextEdit

Posted by Arch on October 10, 2019
how to use plain text mode in textedit

TextEdit is a rich text editor which is considered to be Apple’s equivalent to Microsoft’s Word. Unlike MS Word, TextEdit is very versatile. It can be used to apply a variety of fonts, resize the text, change its color, and so on. But despite the fact that it has extensive formatting options, TextEdit can be used for simple text too, meaning that it’s essentially like Notepad and Word combined into a single fantastic app.

This means that it can be comfortably used for things that are impossible or awkward in MS Word, such as working with code, removing the formatting from the copied text, as well as jotting down quick notes. These are just some of the reasons why you might want to use TextEdit in its plain text mode.

Switch to Plain Text Mode

When you open TextEdit, the new document is in rich text mode by default, with both the ruler and the formatting toolbar engaged. While in rich text mode, you can’t save a document as a plain text file. However, you can easily convert any TextEdit rich text document to plain text, at any point during your work.

Switch to Plain Text Mode

The Switch to Plain

Switching to plain text mode is as simple. Just open the rich text document in TextEdit, navigate to Format in the upper part of the screen, and select Make Plain Text, or press Shift+Command+T. A dialog box will appear, prompting you to confirm that you want to convert your document.

If you confirm, all formatting, attachments, images, and other rich text document properties will be removed. If you are sure that you want to do this, click OK.

Now your text is in plain text mode, meaning that both the formatting toolbar and the ruler are removed, as well as the formatting, colors, and pictures/images. Your text font will also be converted to Menlo, size 11. The font and size, however, can still be changed from the Format menu.

The Switch to Rich

You can always switch back to rich text mode by following the exact same pattern of commands. Navigate to Format, select Make Rich Text, or press Shift+Command+T on your keyboard. Of course, even if your plain text was in rich text mode before you switched to plain mode, you won’t get your original text back this way. This is why it’s important that you backup your file and think carefully before confirming that you want to switch to the plain text mode.

Saving as Plain Text

Like when using Notepad on PC, you can save your documents with the .txt extension. However, you’re going to need to do some tweaking in order to do this.

First, go to Preferences, under TextEdit in the uppermost toolbar. In the dialog box that appears, go to the Open and Save tab. Now, you need to check the Add “.txt” extension to plain text files box and then click the box next to “Saving files:”. From this drop-down menu, select Unicode (UTF-8). This will allow you to save your document as a .txt or plain text file. To save the file as .txt, click Save As, enter the name, check the If no extension is provided, use “.txt” box and click Save.

Using the Plain Text Mode for New TextEdit Documents

This is very useful for converting rich to plain text documents and vice-versa, but, as you can see, it is a bit tedious. The best way to use TextEdit as Notepad is to navigate to the Preferences dialog box and click the New Document tab. Under the Format section, select Plain text. This will ensure that the next time you open TextEdit, you’ll open it in plain text mode.

Use this method to quickly switch between rich and plain text documents according to your needs.

Using the Plain Text Mode for New TextEdit Documents

Your Preference

TextEdit might not be as straightforward as Microsoft Word or Notepad, but it is a single free app that enables you to use it as an alternative to both.

What is the best thing about TextEdit in your experience? Jot down your thoughts in the comment section below.

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