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Best Free Search and Replace Utility


Many programs have a search and replace function that allows you to replace text in the file you are currently editing. However, search and replace utilities allow you to replace text across multiple files or folders.

In a Hurry?

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


Replace TextThe most powerful free program in this class is Replace Text (formerly BK ReplaceEm). It will carry out replacements in individual files, in a group of selected files, in a set of files determined by a file mask, or indeed every file in a folder.

Replacement can be by text string or by using regular expressions. You can even replace text within a nominated range such as html tags. The interface is both logical and powerful, but it does take a little getting used to, so read the Help file before using. Power users need look no further than this product.


A.F.9A little less powerful, but a tad easier for normal users is A.F.9. It allows multiple search and replace operations in the one pass, can save search and replace operations for later re-use, and has full drag and drop support.


InfoRapidThese programs are designed for use on text based files such as .txt and .html and must not be used on binary files or proprietary formats such as Microsoft Word.


If you want to search and replace these file types, then check out InfoRapid Search & Replace. It's not as powerful as the best binary editors, but with suitable add-ins it­ can handle certain Microsoft Office file types plus .rtf and .pdf

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Quick Selection Guide

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

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
many replacement features, text and binary files
takes some time to learn
833 KB
Unrestricted freeware

From the developers' web site: "Please note that Replace Text is no longer supported and has known problems with some Windows 7 installations."
The download is atill available as of July 2013.

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
multiple search and replace operations in the one pass
less powerful than Replace Text
992 KB
Unrestricted freeware
Windows 9x/Me/NT4/XP
InfoRapid Seach & Replace
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
can handle certain Microsoft Office file types plus .rtf and .pdf
does not work with binary files
1.0 MB
Unrestricted freeware
Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista


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


search text, replace text, search and replace text, free, freeware

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by inthefog on 30. September 2013 - 13:35  (111113)

You really should include TextCrawler in your list. It's free and very powerful - it supports regex, previewing, text ripping and has batch processing. It's pretty fast too.

by MidnightCowboy on 30. September 2013 - 13:42  (111115)

Caution! TextCrawler is ad-supported and will try to install unwanted components such as toolbars. MC - Site Manager.

by inthefog on 30. September 2013 - 13:49  (111116)

Not the version I downloaded last week? It seemed clean to me.

by MidnightCowboy on 30. September 2013 - 14:14  (111119)

The download defaults to which uses a wrapped installer.

cnet is no longer a safe or trustworthy download source.

Their own installer also included OpenCandy although the exact makeup of what is there now will no doubt be varied as users discover the contents and try to avoid it. MC - Site Manager.

by inthefog on 30. September 2013 - 14:32  (111120)

Nope, nothing in the CNET download either. I've heard that developers can 'Opt out' of having their software CNET wrapped after there was some hoo-ha about open source stuff being wrapped a while back.

by Anupam on 30. September 2013 - 14:55  (111123)

The CNET is offering the download for TextCrawler without their wrapped installer. So, that's good. But still, this is not the same for all cases. As you say, some developers can opt out of this by telling CNET, to which they comply. But, still in majority of cases, CNET employs its wrapped installer, and that is why we do not recommend it as a download site.

I did download and run TextCrawler. It seems it is free of any extras, like toolbar, OpenCandy etc. It's clean. Although Softpedia does say that it is ad-supported. Maybe it did bundle something extra before, not now.

by MidnightCowboy on 30. September 2013 - 15:34  (111125)

Thanks for checking it out. :) MC

by Panzer on 20. February 2013 - 9:11  (105567)

"... TurboSR Search and Replace is very handy if you need to make changes to a whole range of text, HTML, XML or other text-based files ...":

by Questioner (not verified) on 14. June 2011 - 11:52  (73782)

Does anyone know if there's a freeware program that can delete, within multiple text files, only the first line or the first two lines or only line one and four etc.?
[Edit] Commercial references removed to deter spammers.

by ehorwitz1 on 7. November 2010 - 22:10  (60863)

Please note: Replace Text added the following on their home page:

"Please note that Replace Text is no longer supported
and has known problems with some Windows 7 installations."

[Thanks. I have noted it above. AM]

by Selvan777 (not verified) on 18. March 2011 - 20:27  (68156)

I'm still using the old BK ReplaceEM v2.0 on Windows 7HP SP1, works like the champ it always did in XP.

by JG (not verified) on 2. October 2010 - 18:00  (58912)

I've used dnGREP ( for awhile, but the latest one requires .NET 4.0.

by DV (not verified) on 16. August 2010 - 12:37  (56115)

TextCrawler 2.0 is out now - tons more features and still free.

by Realcool (not verified) on 3. April 2012 - 16:40  (91622)

But it can't perform multiple "search & replace" operations at one pass. And I need this.

by Anonymous on 18. September 2009 - 14:02  (32900)

So if Replace Text doesn't accept * as a wildcard, what is the equivalent for the ole "text*" to match "text editor", "text string" and so on?

by Anonymous on 3. April 2009 - 12:53  (19200)

One feature I would expect for such a utility (that a.f.9 does not have) is the option to leave the file date(s) unchanged.

by Anonymous on 18. March 2009 - 21:39  (18133)

If you're looking for just a search utlity, try It finds a lot more than the built-in windows search.

by Anonymous on 15. March 2009 - 1:00  (17853)

If using a DOS Box try PDGREPPE that can use Extended Regular Expressions
and recurse into file systems(s) on BOTH text and binary files
and only change the fields specified. Many options.

PDGREPPE : Pattern Definition GREP Pattern Editor

It's part of both GREPPES and PENTA Text Tools.

by Anonymous on 14. March 2009 - 13:59  (17821)

Everything search engine,Locate files and folders by name instantly. Works on NTFS partition only! It's super super super fast! Amazing!

by Anonymous on 14. January 2009 - 22:11  (13888)

There's also an official portable version of BK, now deceased: , scroll down to BK.

by TerDale on 27. October 2008 - 16:27  (9733)

You should check TextCrawler, quite good and faster than any other I tested so far:

by Anonymous on 26. February 2009 - 8:50  (16811)

Yes, TextCrawler is by far the best there is. I've tried dozens and nothing even comes close to it. And it's updated regularly.

by Anonymous on 15. March 2009 - 18:57  (17906)

What a CRAP ! Freezes on every binary (CPU=100%, RAM=>150MB) !!!

by Anonymous on 14. January 2009 - 22:07  (13887)

Outdated and slow GUI.

by Anonymous on 31. August 2008 - 9:55  (7124)

Link to A.F.9. download should be

by Anonymous on 7. August 2008 - 19:11  (5768)
by kdyer on 25. February 2009 - 14:03  (16788)

Looks like vgrep has moved -

- Kent

by Anonymous on 7. August 2008 - 16:51  (5762)

Since this topic is petering out badly, might I suggest a couple of apps:

Multiple File Search and Replace 2.0
It's portable, too.

WildReplace v0.99beta
"WildReplace is now in public beta but is in fully working condition" Portable.

by Anonymous on 14. September 2009 - 20:20  (32590)

i agree. wildreplace is the best.

by Anonymous on 30. July 2008 - 11:14  (5196)

You might want to check some of your Download Links......a point in case being the one for AF9 which points to IZArc's website. ;-)