How to Open .NFO Files in Windows 11

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

Opening files with a .NFO extension in Windows 11 can be an interesting exploration, as these files carry metadata about other files, often accompanying software downloads. But if you’ve stumbled upon an NFO file for the first time, or if you’ve tried to open one only to be greeted by an incompatible error message or an incomprehensible mess of characters, you might be unsure about how to proceed.

This guide aims to shed light on the nature of NFO files and present clear, step-by-step methods to open and read them effectively on a Windows 11 computer.

How to Open .NFO Files in Windows 11

What is an NFO file?

An NFO file, which stands for “info” or “information,” is essentially a plain text file used to distribute important information and instructions about software or media downloads. Unlike a regular text file, NFO files are often stylized using ASCII art to create logos or visual designs that represent the software, group, or individual distributing the file. It also serves a “readme” file that provides details such as the title, release date, author, and instructions.

What is an NFO file

NFO files originated in the warez communities as a means of including credits, software instructions, copyright and licensing information, or other messages. Despite their association with pirated software, NFO files are also used legitimately by software developers and publishers to provide details about their products.

Their use extends into various domains, including accompanying game releases where they might detail aspects related to the game or, occasionally, be found within game save files to provide information about the save state, creator, or modifications.

The ASCII art within NFO files is best viewed with a monospaced font – where each character takes up the same amount of horizontal space – to ensure that the art appears as intended. If you’ve ever opened an NFO file and seen what looks like random characters and lines, you’ve likely viewed ASCII art with a non-monospaced font or a program that doesn’t properly interpret the formatting.

Opening .NFO files with Windows 11 Notepad

Notepad is a built-in text editor that comes with every version of Windows, including Windows 11. It’s a straightforward tool that can open and display the contents of .NFO files. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Locate the .NFO file you wish to open.
  2. Right-click on the file.
  3. From the context menu, select “Open with” and then choose “Notepad” from the list of applications.Opening NFO files with Windows 11 Notepad

Also see: How to Restore Old Legacy Notepad in Windows 11

If Notepad isn’t listed, click on “Choose another app,” scroll down, and select Notepad from there.

App to open .nfo files in Windows 11

However, if the .NFO file contains ASCII art, the formatting may not appear correctly in Notepad. This is because Notepad does not always handle the extended ASCII characters used in these artworks well. The art might appear as a jumble of lines and characters rather than the intended image or logo. Moreover, if you’re running Windows with certain regional settings, Notepad may interpret the NFO file as a System Information file and attempt to open it as such, which can also lead to formatting issues.

Notepad not displaying NFO file text correctly

If the ASCII art appears misaligned, you might need to change the font to a monospaced font like Consolas or Lucida Console for proper alignment:

  1. In Notepad, click on “Format” in the menu bar.
  2. Choose “Font…”.
  3. Select “Consolas” or “Lucida Console” from the list of fonts.
  4. Ensure that the font style is set to “Regular” and choose an appropriate size.Fix Notepad can't display NFO file properly
  5. Click “OK” to apply the changes.

How to view NFO files in Windows 11

Remember, changing the font only affects how the text appears on the screen; it won’t alter the actual content of the .NFO file.

Pro tip: How to Add Notepad to Desktop in Windows 11

For those interested in viewing ASCII art as it was meant to be seen, or if you encounter formatting issues, using Notepad++ is a better alternative.

Viewing .NFO files using Notepad++

Notepad++ is a free and powerful text editor that is widely used by programmers and users who need more features than what Notepad offers. One of its advantages is better handling of different encodings and character sets, which is essential for displaying ASCII art correctly. Here’s how you can use Notepad++ to open and view .NFO files properly:

  1. Download and install Notepad++ from the official website if you haven’t already.
  2. Right-click on the .NFO file you want to open.
  3. Select “Open with” and then choose “Notepad++” from the list of programs.Open NFO files with Notepad++
    • If Notepad++ does not appear in the list, click on “Choose another app,” then “More apps,” and if necessary, “Look for another app on this PC,” and navigate to the Notepad++ executable file (usually located in C:\Program Files\Notepad++).

When you open an NFO file in Notepad++, the ASCII art should display correctly, provided you are using a monospaced font like “Courier New” or “Consolas”. To ensure the best display, you can do the following:

  1. Go to “Settings” in the Notepad++ menu bar.
  2. Click on “Style Configurator.”
  3. Select the font style you prefer, ensuring it’s monospaced.Changing font style in Notepad++
  4. Save your settings and reopen the NFO file if necessary.

Notepad++ may also give you better performance with large NFO files, as it is designed to handle large amounts of text more efficiently than the basic Notepad.

View NFO files in Windows 11

Using Notepad++ is often enough to solve most of the issues related to viewing NFO files. However, there are rare cases where an NFO file may actually be in a different format, such as XML, which is where a system information viewer can come into play.

Related resource: How to Search for Text in Files on Windows 11

Changing the default app to view .NFO files

Sometimes, .NFO files may attempt to open with “System Information” by default, which can be problematic if the .NFO file is not formatted for this program, as it often is with those containing ASCII art or software release information. You can adjust your system settings to ensure .NFO files open with your preferred text editor or viewer. Here’s how you can change the default program for .NFO files in Windows 11:

  1. Right-click on any .NFO file in Windows Explorer.
  2. Choose “Properties” from the context menu.
  3. In the Properties window, look for the section that says “Opens with.”
  4. Click on the “Change…” button next to the current default application.Change Open With for NFO System Information
  5. Windows will present a list of suggested applications. If you don’t see the one you want, click on “More apps” to expand the list.Change default app for NFO files in Windows 11
  6. If your preferred app is still not listed, scroll down and click on “Look for another app on this PC”.
  7. Navigate to the folder where your preferred text editor or viewer is installed, select the executable file, and click “Open”.
  8. Back in the Properties window, confirm the change and click “Apply” followed by “OK”.

Learn more: How to Change Default App For File Extension in Windows 11

By adjusting the system settings, you can ensure that double-clicking an .NFO file will open it in an application that displays the content correctly. This method is useful for setting a global preference for all .NFO files, saving you from having to choose the right application every time you open a new .NFO file.

Using System Information Viewer

In some cases, an .NFO file might not be a simple text file with ASCII art, but rather an XML file containing system information gathered by Windows. This type of NFO file is created by the Windows System Information Tool and is formatted specifically for viewing in this program. Here’s how you can open this type of NFO file using the System Information Tool:

  1. Press “Windows + R” to open the Run dialog.
  2. Type msinfo32 and press Enter. This will launch the System Information Tool.
  3. Once the tool is open, go to “File” in the menu bar and select “Open.”
  4. Navigate to the location of your .NFO file, select it, and click “Open.”

Windows 11 NFO Files System Information Viewer

The file should display in a structured format with categories you can browse through, similar to a tree view. This allows you to view comprehensive details about hardware, software, and system components that were captured by the tool.

It’s important to note that if you attempt to open this type of NFO file in a regular text editor, it may appear as illegible text, as the XML format is not meant for direct editing or reading without proper parsing.

Understanding the context of the NFO file is crucial. If it accompanies software or media, it is likely the ASCII text type. If it is something you or someone else generated from your system using the System Information Tool, then the XML type viewer, as described above, is appropriate.


Understanding and accessing the content of .NFO files is an essential task for users who often handle software and media files in Windows 11. While simple text-based .NFO files can be easily opened with Notepad, those containing ASCII art require a more robust text editor like Notepad++ for proper formatting. In cases where .NFO files are system information files in XML format, the Windows System Information Tool provides the correct environment for viewing.

For users seeking a specialized experience, dedicated NFO viewers offer enhanced features and ease of use, especially for ASCII art display. Regardless of the method chosen, it’s important to use the right tool for the type of .NFO file you’re dealing with to ensure the information is presented accurately and clearly.

Nyau Wai Hoe
Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

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