Windows 7 WordPad – File types

The Windows 7 WordPad program is a much improved, actually all new, text editing utility. Take a quick look:


WordPad now features a “Ribbon” to make all the options and controls readily available. It also sports a “Office Button” like control to bring up the open, save, print etc options.

Today I want to concentrate on file formats. In the Vista WordPad you had basically just two choices: It could open and save Rich Text Format (RTF) or plain text format (TXT) files. The new Windows 7 WordPad has a wider array of file type options.


Above are the “Save as” options as they appear in the main option menu. The default format is still “Rich Text document” (RTF). Notice the next two entries: “Office Open XML document” and “OpenDocument text”. The names may be new to you. Here is the big news: the file extensions are DOCX and ODT. Yup, same as you get in Office Word 2007 under “Word Document” and “OpenDocument Text”. This is the good news, there is, however, also some — interesting news.

Word 2007 can open the Windows 7 WordPad files savesd as DOCX, ODT, or RTF. No problem.

Windows 7 WordPad can open Word 2007 files saved as DOCX, ODT, or RTF but with some limitations. Here is an illustration, note the warning line:


WordPad does not support all the features. In the original Word 2007 document the title is underlined as is the colored text above the table. This is true as well in the other two formats, ODT and RTF. I have opened some rather complex Word 2007 documents in the new WordPad and in all cases the document was at least fully readable. Some of the little niceties are not supported as well as the more complex features. For example WordPad cannot display an embedded spreadsheet. The table shown in the above document can be seen in WordPad just fine. The contents of the cells can be edited although there are no table tools. When saved and opened again on Word 2007 the table shows the modifications and works as expected.

There are significant differences in the way the information is stored inside saved files. This becomes noticeable when you just look at the files. I created a Word 2007 document with just text and an image and saved the file three ways: Word Document (DOCX), RTF, and ODT. I did the same using Windows 7 WordPad. Then I opened the Word 2007 DOCX  file in WordPad and re-saved it as three different file types (with a new name). The picture here shows the files, you can figure out from the filenames which is what.



Notice the difference in file sizes – all these contain exactly the same text and picture. Some of the differences “under the hood” are quite fascinating to techies. The images are stored inside the files in different formats. For normal users this is of no concern.

To sum up: The new Windows 7 WordPad is a much improved and very useful text editor. It can open files saved natively by Word 2007. In turn a Word 2007 user can open the WordPad files. Windows 7 WordPad cannot open the older Word DOC format files.

A user learning WordPad will have little trouble when encountering Word 2007 – the programs are very similar in appearance and the way they work.

There are some other neat new features in WordPad that I will leave for another blog.


About Ludwig

Lending a helping hand where I can. . . My motto: If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
This entry was posted in Windows 7 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Windows 7 WordPad – File types

  1. Bill V says:

    Improved? Really?

    Every time I open it I have to set the line spacing, paragraph spacing, font and font size because MS has picked some defaults and doesn’t allow the user to set their own defaults for new documents. [edited for all audiences by Ludwig]

Comments are closed.