Filed Under: Windows

Understanding and Opening RTF Files: A Comprehensive Guide


Written by Jack Lin

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How to Open RTF File

What is the RTF file? What is the use of an RTF file? How to open an RTF file?

If you are searching for these answers, then you have landed at the right place. In this article, we have talked in detail about the RTF file and how to open it.

An RTF file extension is the acronym of Rich Text Format file. The normal doc and other such file extensions help you store just the text.

In the RTF extension file, you can add some more information such as images, font style, formatting, and much more. Plus, they are compatible with various apps, which is why you can easily use them for cross-platform documents.

In this article, we have included all the major points related to RTF to make it easy for you to understand. Read this full article to know in detail about this extension.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into what is RTF file is and how to open an RTF file

What is an RTF File?

This file extension was developed by Microsoft in the 1980s. This file extension was created with the purpose of providing a source through which a word document can exchange from one who does not use the word processor.

Furthermore, Windows created this extension to use as a default format, and it was used by the WordPad application.

Moreover, the RTF file was also created as a helping file for other Windows files. However, later it was replaced by HTML files. The best part about this file is that many word processors can read and write this file, which allows it to be compatible with devices that are not Windows.

For instance, if you have created a file with the RTF extension on your Windows operating system, you can easily send it to Linux or macOS without any issues.

This means you do not have to convert the extension of the file to send it to other operating systems. This file is widely used in various applications like email clients. Even though Microsoft no longer developed this file, many applications still support the RTF file format. Microsoft discontinued the development of the RTF file format back in 2008.

PS: if you are experiencing issues like Microsoft Word keeps crashing on Mac, here are the top solutions for you.

How Can You Open the RTF File?

Now that we have understood what an RTF file is and how this extension is used, let’s head towards how to open the RTF file.

Alright, just like opening any other app or file, double-click on the file and open it. In order to do that, make sure that you have an in-built application or any other system to open the RTF file in it. In case you have Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, AbiWord, and other such apps, you can easily find RTF file format in it.

Many file syncing systems such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive allow you to at least read the RTF file extension, if not edit it.

However, Google Drive permits you to edit RTF format files. Many Operating Systems incorporate an in-built editor in order to open RTF files. Windows operating system has WordPad that incorporates an in-built editor to open RTF files. 

In macOS, you have options like Apple Pages or Apple TextEdit. Until and unless you install another word processor like Microsoft Word, you can easily open these app files in the RTF extension.

For instance, even in a freshly installed Windows operating system, you can easily open the RTF file in a WordPad.

Important Note: There are not many in-built RTF editors on Linux; however, you can install an app like LibreOffice.     

If you want that certain system or app opens the RTF file directly, then you just have to set it by default. On macOS or Windows, you just need to right-click and directly open the RTF file.

However, if You Don’t the Exact Process of Opening the Rtf File, then Follow the Below Instructions.

1: Go to the file or the app to open the RTF file.

2: Right-click on the file, and the drop-down menu will appear.

3: In the drop-down menu, search for the ‘Open With‘ option or similar option and click on it.

4: A new window with ‘How do you want to open this file‘ will appear on your screen.

5: Search for the RTF file and click on it. In case you do not find the RTF file, click on ‘others options‘ and expand the list of the file extension. There you can find the RTF file.

6: Click on the RTF file option, and at the bottom of the screen, check the box ‘Always use this app to open .rtf files.’ This will allow you to open the RTF file by default. 

How can you open the RTF file

So, the above steps have covered in detail how to open an RTF file. Now, all the text files will open in RTF files until you change the extension of that particular file.

How Can You Convert an RTF File?

Now that you know how to open an RTF file, you must also know how you can convert an RTF file. Although RTF files are compatible with most apps or systems, you can easily convert the file. If you want to use any other file extension instead of the RTF file format, you need to first change the file extension.

Remember that you can only use those file format that is supported by the word processor. The simplest and quickest way to convert the file extension is that first open the file in .RTF extension and then save the same in a different extension. 

For instance, if you have saved a file in RTF format but now you want to open it in a different extension, just use the ‘Save as‘ command to save the file format. ‘Save As‘ command allows you to save the file in the dialog box; now, simply click on the ‘Save As Type‘ button from the drop-down menu and save the file in a different format.

How can you convert an RTF file

In case you don’t have a word processor in your computer system, you can install a different processor that your Operating System supports. Plus, WordPad is only compatible with limited format; on the other hand, Microsoft Word supports many file formats. So it would be better to choose a word processor that uses different file formats.

Save as Other formats

Extra Information on the RTF File

As we have mentioned earlier, Microsoft introduced the RTF file format RTF file in 1987 which gained instant popularity among non-word processors and word processor users.

However, Microsoft stopped developing this extension in 2008. Since then, Microsoft has brought many variations in this extension and updated its format. More importantly, the file format that the word processor displays depend on the RTF file version.   

For instance, if you want to open an image in the RTF file, not necessarily all the editors will read and write the file and display the result. There is a possibility that some RTF file formats are still not updated yet. In such a case, they won’t be able to read and write the image and display the result. 

You know that RTF files are now replaced with HTML files, and it uses CHM file extension rather than RTF extension. After the release of RTF files, it was first used by MS Word 3. In 1987 first version, 1.1 was released, and the last version was 1.97, was released in 2006. The last version of the .RTF extension was compatible with custom XML tags, math elements, password protection, and XML markup.

Furthermore, the RTF file is based on an XML system and not a binary system; this allows you to read the file content in simple and plain text, just like Notepad.

Also, the RTF extension is not compatible with macros; regardless, the system can read the file and display the result. For instance, you can save a Microsoft Word file that contains macros with an RTF extension, and still, Microsoft Word runs the file normally because that file is not entirely in an RTF file.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can I open an RTF file using Google Docs? Yes, Google Docs supports opening and editing RTF files. Simply upload the RTF file to your Google Drive and open it with Google Docs.

Q2. Are RTF files compatible with mobile devices? Yes, RTF files are compatible with mobile devices. You can use word processing apps like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or Apple Pages to open and edit RTF files on your mobile device.

Q3. Can I convert an RTF file to a PDF format? Yes, you can convert an RTF file to PDF using various online conversion tools or word processing applications like Microsoft Word.

Q4. Do RTF files support images and other multimedia elements? RTF files primarily focus on text formatting and do not offer extensive support for images or multimedia elements. However, they can store basic formatting options like font styles, colors, and tables.

Q5. Are there any online platforms where I can collaborate on RTF files with others? Yes, several online platforms, such as Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online, allow real-time collaboration on RTF files. You can share the file with others, and multiple users can edit the document simultaneously.


In this article, we have covered in detail what is RTF file is and how to open an RTF file? And in addition to this, we have also covered how you can convert RTF files into different extension files. In case you have any queries regarding this topic, comment below and let us know.   


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