How to create a plain text file in Google Drive (and why you might want to)

Google Drive on a laptop with someone typing.


Google Drive is my go-to place for document creation and I use it constantly throughout the day. I use this service to write all of my technical writing and even full-length novels (of which I’ve written over 50). But sometimes I don’t need a complete, formatted document. I just need a text file.

Jack Wallen: Here’s how…

But… but… but… what do you need something like that for anyway? Does anyone actually still use .txt files?

Actually, they do. Consider these cases:

  • configuration files
  • container manifests
  • Source code
  • Simple lists
  • README files

You’ll be surprised how handy a text file can be. Any use case where you need a document that doesn’t have the formatting (and other bits) associated with traditional documents is where text files shine. And within the Google Drive ecosystem, there are two ways to generate a plain text file. Let me show you how each method works.

Likewise: How to organize your Google Drive with these 5 tips


The only thing you need to create a text file in Google Drive is, you guessed it, a Google account. With that, we can get to work.

How to create a new .txt file

The first thing you need to do is open a web browser and point it to Make sure you sign in with the account you want to use (if you have more than one Google account).

In Google Drive, click New > More > Text Editor, which will open a new tab in your browser with the website

Google Drive's New menu.

Create a new text file from Google Drive’s “New” menu.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

On the resulting page, click Create New Text File to open Notepad.

Google Drive's text editor.

The Google text editor allows uploading or creating a new text file.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

With the text editor open, make sure to rename the file (where you’ll see I’ve changed the name to zdnet_test) and then start typing the contents of the file (where I typed Hello, ZDNET!). Continue assembling your file until you are satisfied.

The Google text editor interface.

The Google text editor is very easy to use.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

When you’re done creating the file, click either “Save to Drive” or “Download” in the upper-right corner of the window. If you choose to save the file to Google Drive, you know it will be saved to the folder where you were working. In other words, if you want to save the text file in a specific directory in Google Drive, first navigate to that folder and then create the new text file.

The text editor's save options.

You can either save the file to Google Drive or download it to local storage.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

How to convert a Google Doc to a text file

Create a new document in Google Drive as usual.

After creating the new file, click File > Download > Plain Text (.txt), which will convert the document to a plain text file. Note that this way the file is stripped of all formatting. If you need to preserve the formatting of the document, make sure you download it as either a .docx or .odt file.

The Google Drive download menu.

Download a document from Google Drive as a text file.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Likewise: How to set up offline access in Google Drive

And that’s how easy it is, my friends, to create a plain text file in Google Drive. By creating such a file and storing it in Google Drive, you can also share these files with others for common purposes. You may not need to create text files very often, but when you do, Google Drive will come to your rescue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *