Text file

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A Text File (formerly referred to as a "Flat File") is a computer file which servers as a container for plain text. Plain text does not use any formatting or styling as more advanced word processors do. Although these have limited capability, they are also very versatile. They can be used for many purposes, and in many cases have be read by computer software as well as by humans. They are often used to store the settings and configuration of programs. Because of their simplicity, text files can probably be opened by more programs than any other document file. Even command line shell programs can open and edit text files.

This importance is referred to on Microsoft's website, when they say,

Administering Windows systems without using text files would be like playing hockey without a stick. Well, okay, not exactly like that - all right, not at all like that. But nonetheless, text files are a pretty valuable part of system administration. You wouldn’t think something so simple could be so useful, but it’s true[1]

Technical Details

Although fairly generic, text files can be written to storage (encoded) using several different methods, including ANSI, Unicode/UTF-8 and OEM encoding.

File extension: .txt (various encoding methods)