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Free Programs to View or Edit Very Large Text Files

For editing document files, Open Office or Microsoft Office contains all the tools you need.  And for working with plain text files, Notepad or WordPad are included with Windows and do the job just fine.  But what if you need to edit, view or search text files which are too large for Word, Writer, Notepad or Wordpad to comfortably handle?
As an example, I frequently need to search through a text file that’s a few hundred megabytes long.  Microsoft Word can do it, but it’s pretty slow.  Even slower if I work with native .TXT files rather than converting them into .DOC format.  Notepad gets there eventually, but it’s also too slow to be acceptable.  And WordPad, while faster than Notepad, still doesn’t provide the speed I’m after.  So it was time to go looking for free Windows programs that allowed me to view and search large text files, and two examples stood out from the crowd.
First, The Gun.  It’s a simple Windows program that looks very much like Notepad.  It’s an unbelievably small download, at just 6 KB, and runs without needing to be installed.  It loaded my 250 MB text file in about 5 seconds, and a search for a string which is roughly half way down the file took around 2 seconds.  Read more, and download it, at www.movsd.com/thegun.htm.  There’s also an updated version called Top Gun, at www.movsd.com/topgun.htm.

Secondly, EditPad Lite.  It’s free for non-commercial use, and again looks rather like the Windows Notepad that you’re used to.   We’ve mentioned this program in the past, at www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-text-editor.htm, but I was specifically evaluating it for working with very large files.  It’s a 3.1 MB download, but it does have a number of features that The Gun doesn’t.  It can work with blocks of text, for example, and also convert to/from upper or lower case.  It also has a “reopen” menu option.  While searching seems slightly slower than The Gun (4 seconds as opposed to 2), loading and displaying my large file was instant. 

You can get EditPad Lite at www.editpadpro.com/editpadlite.html.
So, which one will I be using from now on?  Because I find the “reopen” command so useful, and because initial opening and display of a file is so quick, I’m going with EditPad Lite for now.
If there’s a great item of freeware, or a web-based service, that you think deserves to be a Hot Find, please let us know and we’ll do the rest.  Just fill in some brief details at www.techsupportalert.com/content/submit-product-review.htm.
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