What is rich text format and what is it used for?

A person using a laptop to access and edit an RTF file on a wooden table.

Have you ever wondered, “What is rich text format?” Learn what it’s used for and how to unleash the power of RTF.

Computers use a number of different file formats. Each has its own features and benefits with its own strengths and weaknesses. The default file format that comes with your word processing software will often be the best option. But sometimes, it’s useful to know how to use other file formats.

What is rich text format?

Rich text format (RTF) is a file format that enables exchanging text files between different word processing programs. You can identify RTF files by their .rtf extension, and most word processors can open them.

RTF files contain both configuration information and the actual text of the document. The formatting includes bold, italics, font size, and margin settings. This means that when you open an RTF file in a word processing program, the text will retain its original design.

What are the pros and cons of rich text format?

As a widely used file format, rich text format offers both advantages and disadvantages to its users. By understanding the benefits and drawbacks of using RTF, you can make informed decisions about its suitability for your document needs. Let’s explore the pros and cons of this format:



What is an RTF file ideally opened in?

RTF files can be opened and viewed using various software applications and text editors. This versatility ensures compatibility across different platforms and operating systems. The most common applications used to open RTF files are word processors, which allow users to create, edit, and format documents while retaining the intended appearance.

Apart from word processors, many text editors and document viewers also support RTF files, although they may have limited formatting capabilities compared to dedicated word processors. Additionally, web-based document viewers often provide reliable support for RTF files, allowing collaborative editing.

How to open an RTF file.

When working with RTF files, it’s essential to know how to open and access them using different software applications. Let’s explore different methods for opening RTF files on different systems, including macOS and Windows, and converting them to PDF using Adobe Acrobat.

Opening an RTF file format on Mac with Pages.

To open an RTF file in Apple Pages on a Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Create a document in Pages or receive an RTF file from another source. If you have a document created in Microsoft Word on a Windows computer, you can ask the sender to save it as an RTF file before transferring it to your Mac.
  2. Go to the File menu and select Open.
  3. Locate the RTF file on your Mac and click Open.
  4. Pages will import the RTF file, retaining its formatting information.

Opening an RTF file format with Word

To open an RTF file with Microsoft Word, follow these steps:

  1. Open the most recent version of Word on your computer.
  2. Go to the File menu and select Open.
  3. Locate the RTF file on your computer and click Open.
  4. The document will open in the most recent version of Word, retaining the formatting information.
  5. Save the document as an RTF file.

How to open an RTF file with Acrobat.

To convert an RTF file to PDF format using Adobe Acrobat, you can follow these instructions:

  1. Open Acrobat on your computer.
  2. In Acrobat, go to the File menu and select Create > PDF from File.
  3. Choose the RTF file you want to convert, and click Open.
  4. Acrobat will convert the RTF file to PDF format, retaining the original formatting of the RTF file.
  5. Save the converted PDF file to your desired location on your computer.

You can also use the PDF converter tool to convert a RTF file to PDF online.

Advantages of an RTF file over plain text.

Rich text format (RTF) files offer several advantages over plain text documents, providing users with enhanced formatting options and compatibility across different platforms. Here are some key advantages of RTF files:

What is an RTF file limitation?

RTF files offer great advantages for document transfer and compatibility, but it’s important to be aware of their limitations. There are some limits to what RTF files can do. For example, they cannot retain certain types of formatting, like Track Changes or comments. Additionally, they may not support certain kinds of images or objects. However, despite these limitations, RTF files remain an excellent way to transfer documents between different word processing programs or operating systems.

While Track Changes, comments, or certain types of images and objects may not be preserved in RTF files, they still provide a reliable format for maintaining text formatting and structure. If needed, it’s simple to convert PDF to RTF again. RTF files ensure that the content remains accessible and consistent across platforms, making them suitable for efficient document exchange and collaboration.

Rich text formatting provides users with a versatile and widely compatible approach for creating and sharing documents across different word processing programs and operating systems.

While RTF files have certain limitations in retaining specific formatting and supporting certain types of images or objects, they remain an excellent choice for seamless document transfer. And with tools like Acrobat online services, you can effortlessly convert RTF to PDF files while preserving the original formatting, ensuring the content’s integrity and accessibility in a universally accepted format.

Discover what more you can do with Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat online services to convert, share, and send PDFs.