Best Free Hex Editor


If you ever accidentally open an exe program file in a text editor such as Notepad, you will be confronted with a mass of unintelligible garbage on your screen. Worse still if you write the exe file back to disk, the program file would almost certainly be corrupted and would not work.

That's because text editors are designed only to work with text files which are files with extensions such as .txt, .bat, .prg and .html. To view and safely change binary files such as .exe, .com and .dll files you need a hex editor, sometimes called a binary editor. Most average PC users have no need for such a program but techies and gamers find them indispensable.

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Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide


There are some excellent free hex editors available that range from the small and simple editors to advanced products that are comparable to any commercial product. Hex editors are a software category where personal needs and preferences are so important that it is meaningless to pick a "best product". That of course doesn't stop me stating my own preferences.

For my needs, HxD is a clear winner. Its first virtue is that it doesn't need installing. Second, it has a great interface. Third, it handles huge files without slowing down. Then add in unlimited undo, great searching and search/replace capabilities, binary file comparison, full support for ANSI, DOS/IBM-ASCII and EBCDIC character plus a dozen other features and you can see why I like it. But it doesn't stop there. Hxd also works as a RAW disk editor and a full read/write RAM editor. This power also makes it a dangerous tool in the hands of beginners. It may also give your security software an apoplexy, but users skilled enough to use this product will understand that this is not a concern.

Hexplorer has some unique features which make it a powerful editor for images. If you want to open images in a hex editor you should try this out. However, I was unable to increase the font size which made reading difficult.

Related Products and Links

There are a few more hex editors like frhed, hex editor neo, etc. which I will review shortly. Stay tuned in for updates.


Quick Selection Guide


Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Multiple languages; built in RAM and disk editor, loads only part of file to memory and has a low memory footprint, files are opened instantaneously irrespective of their size, added capability to generate checksums and compare files using them. Hex and Octal modes, features to concatenate, split and shred files.
Changes to file are immediately saved to disk. Therefore, backup your files when editing.
789 KB - 855 KB
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 95 - Vista


Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Built-in RAM and disk editor; extra features such as Fourier transform and pixel viewer to facilitate image editing. Can understand common headers like NTFS/FAT headers, BMP headers, etc. Supports macros to perform repetitive tasks.
Stores entire opened file in memory. The opening of large files is difficult. Font size is extremely small on higher resolution systems making it nearly impossible to read certain parts.
1.61 MB
Open source freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
v2.6src released 23-04-2013
Windows 95 - Vista


Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Does not require installation. Built-in basic RAM, disk editor and calculator.
Stores entire opened file in memory. The opening of large files is difficult.
2.37 MB
Unrestricted freeware
This product is portable.
version number not verfied. Link/size verfied 22/06/13
Windows 95 - Windows 7


Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Does not require an installation. Downloaded file runs standalone. Supports scripting to automate repetitive tasks. Supports wildcards in searches.
Stores entire file opened in memory. So opening large files is difficult. No undo feature.
558 KB ZIP
Unrestricted freeware
This product is portable.
Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP/Vista/7

Cygnus Free

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Stores entire file opened in memory. So, opening large files is difficult. Viewing help in Windows Vista requires a Vista update. However, the software homepage has all the details.
285 KB
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
The free version is simply an old version of the paid version. There are no restrictions on available features.
Windows NT-Vista

This software review is copy-edited by Victor Laurie. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here.

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Regarding Hexplorer:
"I was unable to increase the font size which made reading difficult."

You just need to change the font!
To zoom into Hexplorer:
* Open your file.
* Go to View --> Options.
* Change font to "System Fixed Font"!

Information found here:

Maybe some one can review newer Hex Editors as the one above in the article are more or less old (not developed anymore as it seems).
I found some on wikipedia like the ones below (all seem to be from 2015 or 2014.

Hex Editor Neo Free:

I am only a caretaker and this review is in need of an editor. Perhaps you could help us out and bring the article up to date? You can help us by clicking here.

Good Morning!

Anyone know where HxD's 'portable' version can be downloaded? The download link points to a setup file, which is a problem.



I extracted the executable and it can be run directly without running the install.

On the first run HxD asks your permission to create an ini file in the directory it was run from. That seems to work fine, with no administrator access required.

HexEdit from and HxD from are both useless as forensic or counter-forensic tools since they
do not accumulate multiple search hits into lists of bookmarks and both also have no capability of telling you
what NTFS file a search hit occurred in. Like most free hex editors they are just toys. Download the demo version of
[edited] to see what a hex editor is supposed to do the non-disabled version of which costs $70 per year. The only free ware to match [edited] in capability is HexEdit from

[Moderator's note: Mention of commercial software edited out. Not allowed]