An NFO file is a type of text file that usually accompanies digital media downloads from certain sources. More than just a simple text file, NFO files also allow for elaborate ASCII artwork to accompany the details of the download or to embed XML tags for media libraries.
So, here’s what an NFO file is, where you find them, and how to open and view NFO files—to their full potential.
What Is an NFO File?
NFO files are typically associated with media downloaded using a distributed file network, such as BitTorrent, or through a warez site. They are strongly associated with communities that pirate media, software, and other digital files. NFO itself is a contraction of “information,” which is what the file provides.
The NFO file includes information regarding the media, such as release date, genre, title, bitrate, subtitles, audio and video codec, resolution, and so on. Some NFO files attached to pirate software will also include information on how to install the program without triggering anti-piracy software or trackers.
As well as that, NFO files usually provide information on the person uploading the file and might include shoutouts to other pirates and file uploaders, requests for cryptocurrency donations for their efforts, contact details for file requests, and details of upcoming releases.
Kodi, Plex, and NFO Files
Media streaming and organization services such as Kodi and Plex use NFO files to update media library information. An NFO file can contain XML data that the services can read, updating your library accordingly, using tags such as title, user rating, outline, plot, runtime, genre, and so on.
The Best NFO File Viewers
If you find an NFO file on your system and want to view its contents, you can use a standard text file program, such as Notepad for Windows or TextEdit for macOS. However, opening an NFO file in those basic text editing programs doesn’t unlock the full potential of the file. At the very least, you won’t view the ASCII artwork in its true form, missing out on its glory.
There are several excellent NFO file viewers available for each operating system.
Notepad++ is a significant step up from the Windows Notepad. It supports several programming languages, multiple tabs, and heaps of other features. Importantly, it can display NFO files, as well as edit and convert them, too.
Download: Notepad++ for Windows (Free)
2. NFO Viewer
NFO Viewer is a “simple viewer for NFO files.” It presents your NFO files in a simple yet effective manner and doesn’t mess around with fonts or other visual effects. Better still, NFO Viewer is free and open-source, so you can check out the source code if you want.
Once you open the NFO file, you can edit the font style and color, the line spacing, toggle through the color schemes, or select a custom color scheme. NFO Viewer also makes any URLs in the NFO file clickable, which is handy.
Download: NFO Viewer for Windows or Linux (Free)
Jane (Just Another Nasty Editor) is one of the most feature-packed NFO viewers available to Windows users. Not only that, but Jane is also one of the most frequently updated options, too.
Jane comes with several NFO file editing tools, such as font editing, design and organization presets, and a myriad of color options. One of my favorite Jane features is the random color option, which changes the font and background color. Press CTRL + ALT + H to cycle through all manner of NFO file colors!
Download: Jane for Windows (Free)
iNFekt is a free and open-source desktop NFO viewer for Windows. There is also a command-line tool available for Linux users, which you can find in the iNFekt Github releases.
Easy to use, one of my favorite iNFekt features is also one of the simplest—it keeps the NFO file centered when you change the window size. Aside from that, there are options for importing and exporting NFO themes, customizable color schemes, editable fonts, and a few different viewing mode options.
Download: iNFekt for Windows (Free)
5. Yet Another NFO Viewer
Yet Another NFO Viewer (YANV) is a free NFO file viewer for macOS. YANV is a very basic NFO viewer and was designed as a “small, light, and hopefully fast tool.” Features-wise, YANV doesn’t offer much, but it is a handy NFO file reader option for macOS users.
Download: Yet Another NFO Viewer for macOS (Free)
If you don’t want to install a specific NFO viewer on your system but come across a file you want to look at, you could use an online NFO viewer. NFOmation is a basic online NFO viewer you can use to view your NFO file.
The maximum file size is 300KB, which is a decent limit considering the minute amount of data a typical NFO file uses. As an example, the NFO file I’m using in these screenshots is 3KB.
Do You Need an NFO File Viewer?
NFO files can contain elaborate ASCII artwork, showing off the skills of the creator. The NFO files found with torrent and warez downloads also act as a tag of kinds, indicating to the rest of the community that a particular group cracked this software.
If you don’t care about the ASCII artwork and just want the information in the file, you can open the NFO file in a standard text editor. While the fancy logo header won’t parse, the information regarding the file should be absolutely fine.
Similarly, if you’re creating or reading NFO files for Plex, Kodi, or another media service, you could probably use a default operating system text editor without running into any issues.
Image Credit: Pressmaster/Shutterstock