QIF files were originally developed as a multitasking file by Symantec in order to provide a multi-program environment prior to the inception of the Windows operating system. In current operating systems the QIF file is part of Intuit programs, such as QuickBooks financial software, and is an ASCII text file. The file extension QIF stands for Quicken Interchange Format and provides a format which can be used with more than one version of financial software and in multiple operating system environments.
Since QIF files were originally developed for multitasking in an MS-DOS environment, the versatility of these files has remained true with Quicken software because they can be used across the board with various types of Quicken financial software. The purpose of the file is to provide a way to export and import files from one software application to another.
How to Open QIF Files
In order to open and view the contents of a QIF file, it is necessary to use a text editor, such as WordPad. This is because the QIF file format has maintained an open standard which can be used across a number of Quicken software applications, despite the fact that the file format was established by Intuit for various financial software applications.
First, in order to open a QIF file, the file name must be no more than eight characters in length and no less than three characters in length. You should also keep the .QIF extension to ensure that Quicken software applications are able to maintain communications with the file in the event editing is necessary.
That said all you need to do is open a text editing program, such as Microsoft Word or NotePad that is capable of reading ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange), click on File and then choose Open from the drop-down menu. Click on the QIF file you want to open and then press the Enter key. You should be able to view the contents of the file and edit any of the text contained within the file.
If you are using Mac OS X, you can view QIF files with your word processing program and you can open the files using Intuit Quicken Essentials for Mac or GnuCash. Gnu Cash is an open source financial software application which is similar to Quicken. You can also use GnuCash to open files with a QIF file extension using the Linux operating system.