Open and Edit Text Files on Your MacBook

By Mark L. Chambers

As a MacBook user, you’ll be amazed how much information still flows across the Internet in plain, simple text. Text files would seem to be another anachronism in this age of formatted web pages, rich-text format (RTF) documents, and word processors galore. However, virtually every computer ever built can read and write in standard text, so text files are often used for

  • Information files on the Internet, such as FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions files)

  • README and update information by software developers

  • Swapping data between programs, such as comma- and tab-delimited database files

Here’s the quick skinny on opening, editing, and saving an existing text file:

  1. Navigate to your Applications folder and launch TextEdit.

  2. Press Command+O to display the Open dialog.

  3. Navigate to the desired text file and double-click the filename to load it.

    You can also open an existing text file by dragging its icon from the Finder window to the TextEdit icon.

  4. Click the insertion cursor anywhere in the file and begin typing. Or, to edit existing text, drag the insertion cursor across the characters to highlight them and type the replacement text.

    TextEdit automatically replaces the existing characters with those that you type. To simply delete text, highlight the characters and press Delete.

  5. After you finish editing the document, you can overwrite the original by pressing Command+S (which is the same as choosing File→Save), or you can save a new version by choosing File→Save As and typing a new, unique filename.

  6. To exit TextEdit, press Command+Q.