How to open RTF files on PC

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
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  • RTF, otherwise known as Rich Text Format, is a text file format that saves document formatting such as bold, italic and images.
  • You can easily open RTF files in Google Chrome with the use of Google Drive or in the browser itself.
  • Got some obscure files you don't know what to open with? Check out our page dedicated to the Best File Openers.
  • Chrome is the most popular web browser out there, and if you want to be a power user, then have a look at our Chrome Guides Page.
open rich text format windows

RTF, otherwise Rich Text Format, is a text file format that saves document formatting such as bold, italic and images. Thus, it’s better to save a text document that includes bold formatting as an RTF instead of TXT.

Microsoft introduced RTF in the 1980s, but the company no longer updates the format. As such, RTF might be a slightly antiquated file type.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of Windows word processors and text editors that support the RTF file type. MS Word, Corel WordPerfect, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Notepad++ and AbiWord open rich text documents.

You can click File > Open to edit an RTF file in most compatible software.

Here’s how to open RTF files on PC

1. Convert RTF files on your PC to PDF using Adobe Reader DC

Adobe reader small - Printer not showing up in Adobe Acrobat

The easiest and most secure way to open an RTF file on your PC is by using Adobe Reader DC to convert it to PDF. This way your file will be safe and easy to share.

Taking advantage of the numerous functions of Adobe Acrobat Reader DC means that you will need fewer programs installed on your system, making it faster and more stable. Additionally, you can even convert files to and from PDF and share them easily.

Here’s a quick overview of all the other features Adobe Acrobat Reader DC has to offer:

  • Open a large variety of files
  • Create PDF documents
  • Convert from PDF to Microsoft Word or Excel
  • Add passwords to documents
  • Add digital signatures

=> Get Adobe Acrobat Reader DC for free


2. Open RTF Documents With Google Drive

However, you can also open a rich text file within Chrome, or other browsers that support Google’s web apps. Google Drive (GD) is cloud storage with which you can save documents and then edit them via Docs and Slides. Google Drive also gives you 15 GB storage without a subscription fee. Open this page to set up a Google+ account if required, and then you can open an RTF file in GD as follows.

  1. First, press the Go to Google Drive button on the GD homepage to open your could storage page as below.
  2. Next, click My Drive and select the Upload files option from the menu.
  3. Select the RTF file to save in Google Drive, and click the OK button.
  4. When Google Drive includes your selected document, right-click the RTF file’s icon on the GD page and select Open with.
  5. Then you can select to open it in Google Docs as in the snapshot directly below.
  6. Note that opening an RTF in Google Docs generates a second copy of the document in GD with a GDOC file format, which is the edited file. As such, click File > Download as and select Rich Text Format to restore the file back to RTF when you’ve finished editing in Google Docs.


3. Open Online RTF Documents in Google Chrome

You can also open linked RTF files on website pages or search engines in Chrome with Docs Online Viewer. This extension supports Rich Text Format so that you can open online RTF documents within Chrome. This is how you can open linked RTF files with Docs Online Viewer.

  1. Open this web page to add the extension to Google Chrome. It adds a Docs Online Viewer button to the browser’s toolbar as shown below.
  2. Click this link to open the Docs Online Viewer page in Chrome.
  3. Press the View this Docx file button beside the sample docx hyperlink on that page to open Word document sample in Google Chrome.
  4. You can open RTF documents in Chrome much the same. Input the keyword ‘RTF document file samples’ in Google.
  5. Google will then list three RTF documents at the top of its search page. Click a View this RTF file button beside one of those links to open the document in Chrome as below.

So you can RTF documents without any additional software. Open the RTF documents in Google Drive to edit them. Or open the linked Rich Text Format documents in browser tabs with Docs Online Viewer.


FAQ: Rich Text Format common questions

  • What program will open an RTF file?

RTF files can be opened with a host of programs, as shown above, or you can convert them to PDF using Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.

  • How do I open an RTF file in Windows 10?

You can use any of the programs listed above to open RTF files on Windows.

  • Why can’t I open an RTF file?

If you can’t open an RTF file for whatever reason, then simply convert it to PDF using Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2017 and has been since revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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