RTF files – how to open, edit and convert
A file with the .RTF extension is a Rich Text Format file. It differs from a plain text file in that it can contain formatting such as bold and italics, as well as different fonts, sizes, and images. This article gives a complete guide on how to open RTF file on your device.
How to open RTF file
The easiest way to open an RTF file on Windows is to use WordPad as it comes pre-installed. However, other text editors and word processors will also do the job just fine, such as LibreOffice, OpenOffice, AbleWord, Jarte, AbiWord, WPS Office, and SoftMaker FreeOffice.
If you’re using Google Docs to edit an RTF file, you’ll first need to upload it to your Google Drive account using the New → File Upload menu. Then right-click the file and choose Open With → Google Docs.
It is important to understand that not every program that supports RTF files will display the file in the same way. This is because some programs do not support newer RTF format specifications.
Some other “paid” ways to open RTF files include using Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect.
Some of these Windows RTF editors also work with Linux and Mac. If you’re on macOS, you can also use Apple TextEdit or Apple Pages to open an RTF file.
If your RTF file opens in a program you don’t want to use it with, see How to Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension in Windows. For example, making this change would be useful if you want to edit an RTF file in Notepad instead of OpenOffice Writer.
How to convert RTF file
The fastest way to convert RTF files is to use an online RTF converter like FileZigZag. You can save RTF as DOC, PDF, TXT, ODT or HTML file. Another way to convert RTF to PDF online or to PNG, PCX or PS is to use Zamzar.
Another way to convert an RTF file is to use one of the standard RTF editors (described above). Once the file is already open, use the “File” menu or the “Export” option to save the RTF file in a different format.
More information about the RTF format
The RTF format was first used in 1987, but in 2008 Microsoft stopped updating it. Since then, some changes have been made to this format. This determines whether one document editor will display the RTF file in the same way as the other that created it depending on which version of RTF is being used.
For example, while you can insert an image into an RTF file, not all readers know how to display it because not all of them are updated to the latest RTF spec. RTF files were once used for Windows Help files but have since been replaced by Microsoft Compiled HTML Help files using the CHM file extension.
The first version of RTF was released in 1987 and used MS Word 3. Versions 1.1-1.91 were released from 1989 to 2006, with the latest version of RTF supporting things like XML markup, custom XML tags, password protection, and mathematical elements. Because the RTF format is XML-based and not binary, you can actually read the content by opening the file in a text editor such as Notepad.
RTF files don’t support macros, but that doesn’t mean that .RTF files are macro-safe. For example, an MS Word file containing macros might be renamed to have a .RTF extension to make it look safe, but then when opened in MS Word, the macros might still work fine because it’s not really an RTF file.