How to Download Google Docs as Plain Text (.txt)

884445 How to Download Google Docs as Plain Text (.txt)

Google Docs is a popular cloud-based document editing service that allows users to create, edit, collaborate on, and store documents online. While Google Docs offers many benefits, sometimes users need to download their documents in a plain text format for compatibility or other reasons.

Fortunately, downloading a Google Doc as a plain text file is easy. Here is a step-by-step guide.

Why Download as Plain Text?

There are several reasons you may want to download a Google Doc as plain text:

  • Compatibility – Plain text files (.txt) are universally compatible with virtually any device or operating system. This makes them useful for sharing documents across different platforms.
  • Small File Size – Plain text files take up very little storage space compared to formats like .doc or .pdf. This makes them easy to email and share.
  • Editability – Plain text files can be easily edited using any basic text editor. This gives you flexibility in how you work with the content.
  • Formatting Limitations – Sometimes you need to strip out all rich text formatting and styling, which is what downloading as plain text does.

Step-by-Step Guide

Downloading a Google Doc as plain text only takes a few quick steps:

1. Open the Google Doc

Go to Google Docs in your web browser and open the document you want to download as plain text. You must have edit access to the document.

2. Click “File” > “Download”

In the top left corner, click the File menu and select Download. This will open the download options.

Google Docs Download Menu

3. Choose “Plain Text”

In the download options box, click the dropdown menu next to “Plain Text” and select Plain Text (.txt).

4. Save the .txt File

A save prompt will appear. Choose where you want to save the plain text file on your computer, then click Save.

And that’s it! The document will be downloaded as a plain text file, removing all rich text formatting and styling.

Alternative Methods

In addition to the official download method above, there are a couple alternative ways to get your Google Doc as plain text:

  • Copy the Text – You can manually select all text (Ctrl/Cmd+A) in the Google Doc, copy it (Ctrl/Cmd+C), then paste into a plain text editor like Notepad and save. This method is more time consuming.
  • Google Drive Export – In Google Drive you can right-click the Doc file and choose Export, then export as a plain text file.
  • Google Docs Add-Ons – There are various third-party add-ons for Google Docs that allow exporting to plain text. For example, the “DOC Convert” add-on by pdfcrowd.

Plain Text Uses

Once you’ve successfully downloaded your Google Doc as a plain text file, here are some of the main uses:

  • Import the content into a new document in any word processor
  • Open and edit in any plain text editor like Notepad or TextEdit
  • Easily extract raw text for use in web development or programming
  • Share universally compatible documents requiring no special software
  • Send as lightweight email attachments
  • Upload as web pages with basic formatting needs

Because plain text removes all rich text formatting, it primarily conveys content, making it useful anytime basic text is needed.

Tips for Working with Plain Text Files

When working with plain text documents, keep these tips in mind:

  • Add Headings Manually – Plain text files lose all heading formats. Add headings using markdown formatting like # Heading 1 ## Heading 2 at the start of lines.
  • Break Up Sections – Use extra line breaks between sections to better visually separate parts of the document since you lose paragraph styling.
  • View Wrap – In text editors, enable view wrap to avoid excessive horizontal scrolling on longer lines.
  • Syntax Highlight – Programmer-oriented text editors can syntax highlight plain text files to improve readability for things like code.
  • Enclose Formulas – When including math formulas and expressions, enclose them in common markdown format like $$x = 3$$ to nicely display them.

Following these tips will help enhance plain text documents.


Downloading Google Docs as plain text files provides a simple way to extract raw document content into a lightweight, universally compatible format. By following the step-by-step process outlined here, anyone can easily export their documents:

  1. Open the Google Doc
  2. Click “File” then “Download”
  3. Select plain text (.txt)
  4. Save the file

Plain text documents open up more flexibility in how you access, share, and repurpose Google Doc content. They serve as an essential conversion format for documents.

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