Encoding helps to display the characters properly in an app. You need to use correct encoding to read the files which has special characters. The app will show the text as junk if you do not have correct character encoding. This is a problem especially when the file contains Unicode characters. If you want to change the character encoding in TextEdit app in Mac, here is how you can do.
Encoding in TextEdit
The app uses automatic encoding which may not work sometimes. Fortunately, you have few options to set the desired encoding to display the document properly.
1. Permanently Change Encoding for TextEdit App
If you want the app to always use a specific encoding, then this is an option you should follow.
- Open TextEdit app and press “Command + Comma” shortcut keys or go to “TextEdit > Settings…” menu.
- This will open “Settings” dialog box and go to “Open and Save” tab.
- Under “Plain Text File Formatting” heading, you can see the “Opening files:” and “Saving files:” options are using “Automatic” encoding setup.
- Click the dropdown and select the desired characters set from the list. The list will show the popular encoding options, if the one you are looking for is not available in the list, then click “Customize Encodings List…” option.
- You will see a pop-up showing hundreds of items and check the items you want to appear in the default list. For example, you can select “Unicode (UTF-32)” which is not showing in the default list. The selected items will instantly show in the list which you can set as your default encoding for TextEdit app. Make sure to set the desired encodings for both opening and saving files options.
- TextEdit uses “UTF-8” as character encoding for saving HTML files. If you want to change that, click the dropdown against “Encoding” option under “HTML Saving Options” and select the desired encoding from the list.
If you have selected too many items, simply click “Revert to default” to show the default encoding list in the dropdown. Similarly, click on “Restore All Defaults” button in the settings page to clear all your customizations and revert the app to uses its initial setup.
Note: If you change the encoding with a document opened in the app, you may need to save or close and reopen the document for the new encoding to work.
2. Open a Document with Different Encoding
Sometimes, you may want to create a blank document or open a document with different encoding without permanently changing the app’s setting. In such cases, here is how you can do it.
- When you launch TextEdit app, click on “Show Options” button in the dialog box.
- Click the dropdown against “Plain Text Encoding:” and select your encoding from the list. You can also customize the default items in the list as explained above.
- Now, either click “New Document” button or select an existing document and click “Open” button.
- The file will open with a custom encoding you have selected.
3. Save a Document with Different Encoding
Like opening, you may want to save the document with different encoding instead of using the automatic UTF-8 setup. You can also use this method when a file shows junk characters to save it with different encoding and then open again to check it show properly.
- When you are viewing a new document, press “Command + S” to open save as dialog box. If you have opened an existing document, press “Command + Shift + S” to create a duplicate and then press “Command + S” to save the file.
- Click the dropdown against “Plain Text Encoding” option and select your desired option.
- Click “Save” button to save the file with selected encoding.
Note: Character encoding applies only for plain text document and not with rich text formatting. To toggle TextEdit app to use plain text, go to “Format > Make Plain Text” or press “Command + Shift + T” keys.
If you see junk characters in TextEdit file, first thing you need to do is to change the character encoding to UTF-8 and check it that solves the problem. You can choose one of the above explained methods to permanently change the app setting or only apply the encoding when saving or opening a file. If you also using Word, learn how to change the character encoding in Microsoft Word.