A hex editor is a special type of editor that can open any type of file and display its contents, byte by byte. The “hex” in “hex editor” is short for hexadecimal, which is a base-16 number system. This type of editor lets you view and edit binary files. A binary file is a file that contains data in machine-readable form (as opposed to a text file which can be read by a human).
Since a hex editor is used to edit binary files, they are sometimes known as a binary editor or a binary file editor. If you edit a file with a hex editor, you are said to hex edit the file, and the process of using a hex editor is called hex editing.
Hex editors are often used for debugging and reverse engineering binary communication protocols. They can also review files with an unknown file format, reviewing program memory dumps, and hex comparison. Hex editors can help you remove watermarks or other data that is hidden within a file. Hex editors are a favorite tool of game modding communities.
If you use a text editor to open a binary file, you will see large amounts of incomprehensible information, seemingly random accented characters, and long lines overflowing with text. Editing or saving a binary file in a text editor will corrupt the file.
We feature our recommended hex editors. They are all free and open source software.
Let’s explore the 13 programs at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.
|ImHex||Hex editor with many advanced features|
|Hexerator||Hex editor focused on binary file exploration and aiding pattern recognition|
|hexyl||Simple hex viewer for the terminal|
|Okteta||Simple KDE editor for the raw data of files with good range of features|
|GHex||Hex editor for GNOME|
|wxHexEditor||Hex and disk editor which uses the wxWidgets GUI libraries|
|DHEX||ncurses-based hex editor with diff mode|
|Fhex||Aims to be a lightweight yet full-featured hex editor.|
|wxMEdit||Improved version of the discontinued MadEdit|
|Bless||Gtk# hex editor|
|hexedit||View and edit hexadecimal files|
|hyx||Minimalistic but powerful hex editor.|
|hexer||Multi-buffer editor for binary files with vi-style interface|
|Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.
The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.
There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.