Document Formats

Writer opens and saves plain text files. iA Writer defaults to the .txt extension.

2.6.1. Compatibility

Most apps for text editing should be able to open .txt files using FileOpen…, or by dragging the document’s icon on top of the app’s icon in the Dock.

If you have problems, make sure the encoding matches — Writer (and iCloud) use UTF-8 encoding by default. In some apps you may need to specify the encoding if the app guesses incorrectly.

Writer for Mac can import Microsoft Word .docx and export as Web page .html, Microsoft Word .docx, and Portable Document Format .pdf.

2.6.2. Use .md Instead?

Yes, you can open plain text, UTF-8 encoded files with extensions such as .md, .mkd, .mdown, and .markdown in Writer, either using FileOpen… or by dragging to Writer’s icon in the Dock. You may need to switch the default application for the extension to Writer if you’d like these files to open in Writer when double-clicked.

If you would prefer for iA Writer to save files with one of the above extensions, you can change the default extension in PreferencesGeneral.

2.6.3. Help, it’s all Ç#ƒ@!

Writer saves documents as plain text files, using Unicode (UTF-8) encoding. Writer supports opening documents in many encodings, but a document’s encoding must generally be determined by heuristics (advanced guessing). If a document appears to be in Chinese or Japanese kanji when opened in Writer, this is generally due to an encoding problem, often from editing the document in a non-UTF-8 program such as Notepad for Windows.

If you have this problem, please don’t make any changes to the document in Writer, and instead open the document in the last program you saved it with. Once you can see the text again, re-save or export the document using Unicode UTF-8 encoding. If on Windows please use a UTF-8 compatible program, such as WordPad or the free Notepad++, instead of Notepad (which defaults to ANSI encoding).

These are the settings we recommend for other apps to save as UTF-8:


You can make sure TextEdit saves files in Unicode (UTF-8) by going to TextEditPreferences…Open and Save, and making sure the Save As setting is Unicode (UTF-8).

Choose Unicode (UTF-8) for the Save As setting to ensure TextEdit saves documents in UTF-8


Notepad defaults to saving in ANSI encoding, so we recommend using a different program instead. If you must use NotePad, please make sure to double-check the encoding is set to UTF-8 when you save:

Choose UTF-8 in Notepad’s Encoding pulldown when saving


In Notepad++ you can see the encoding in the bottom of the window. This document is in ANSI — to convert it to UTF-8 choose Convert to UTF-8 in the Encoding menu:

Notepad++ encoding menu: converting ANSI to UTF-8

After this the bottom of the window reads UTF-8, which Writer for iPad and iPhone uses.

Notepad++ encoding menu for a UTF-8 file

You can set Notepad++ to always save using UTF-8 in Settings > Preferences… > New Document/Default Directory:

Notepad++ preferences to safely save UTF-8 files


In Wordpad you can set Save as type to Unicode Text document. We also recommend checking Save in this format by default:

Wordpad Save dialog to save as Unicode (UTF-8)