I am trying to find a Windows hex viewer/editor that:

  • Can display the binary/hex contents of a file or drive in a format similar to the way WinMerge gives an overview of the differences between each file (i.e., colour where there is 1's[Dec]/not 0's[Hex] and no colour where there is 0's)
  • Allows regex searches of the binary/hex contents of a file or drive, for matches to something like 0+$

  • [Ideally] Portable, i.e., Non install

... and is free. Too much to ask for?

  • Only 1/3 requirements, so I'm posting this as a comment. FAR Manager + HexEditor Plug-in would allow you to have a portable hex viewer and editor. However, it doesn't support colorful file comparison or regex search.
    – Tymric
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 16:04

2 Answers 2


For those who are looking for such a tool, I can recommend my Hextor ( https://github.com/digitalw0lf/hextor/releases/latest ).

It can open files, logical and physical drives;
It can show graphical (bitmap) view of a file (fit about 100 MB of data on screen);
It supports searching for patterns similar to RegExp for binary data, for example {u8:0:1..1000} - find up to 1000 zero bytes;
And much more, like structure viewing and file compare.

It's free and you can copy installed app to run from removable media.

(upd) It's my pet project, so feedback and suggestions are welcome.

  • Welcome Grigoriy! I appears you are the author of this tool. If this is correct, please disclose your affiliation within your answer (update: now disclosed!). BTW, very nice looking tool! Upvoted! Thanks, and again, welcome! Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 1:07
  • And just like that. Seemingly exactly what was asked for (though now I am trying to remember why I asked for this ;) ), and seemingly written in the first GUI language I learned. Accepted answer is your "prize", with my thanks.
    – user66001
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 23:06
  • 1
    @user66001 When I read Grigoriy's answer to your nearly 6 year old question, I was happy for Grigoriy and myself, because this looks like a very useful tool. But I was concerned that you might not see Grigoriy's answer and to learn about their fine project, as you posted your question so long ago. A warm smile illuminated my face when I saw your comment that you did receive Grigoriy's answer. :) Commented Mar 1, 2021 at 4:22

I recommend Notepad++ with the Hex Editor plugin.

It is completely portable, free (gratis), open-source, and meets all your requirements.

Update (2021): Over the years, I have found quite a few bugs in both Notepad++ and its Hex Editor plugin. So have others. Because of this, there are currently over 1000 unfixed bugs in those packages, and many will likely never get fixed. As such, this is still a workable solution, but I suggest looking at alternatives as well.

Alternatives include:

  1. Hex Editor XVI32, which meets all your requirements (including portability), except it does not have full regex searches. It does have wildcard search, which has its pros and cons when compared to regex.
  2. HXD Hex Editor, which meets all your requirements (including portability), except it does not have regex search (or I was unable to make it work!).

Also, as you discovered, WinMerge does have excellent hex editing capabilities. I recommend the WinMerge2011 fork, as it has significant improvements and bug fixes over the original WinMerge.

If you are looking for a sector editor (to edit raw sectors on a drive), then I recommend Active Disk Editor. It is rather amazing. It will allow you to view raw sectors in a layout similar to the one that WinMerge2011 uses to view files. It includes full-featured regular expression (regex) and wildcard searches, for maximum flexibility. It is gratis (freeware), and is available for both Windows and Linux. Good stuff.

  • Thanks RockPaperLizard (or should I say Sheldon ;), I will check out Notepad++ and that plugin. Also both WinMerge's (have up until now just used this for file comparisons). However, as I have tried XVI32 & HxD I am wondering if we are on the same page in regards to the 'Mapping' of the data. What I mean by that is a visual overview of where data is (non zero filled sectors) and is not (zero filled). Another example of the desired view would be some Defragmenter programs, and how they show the files that are contiguous/aren't/free space, etc. Is this what you were thinking of when answering?
    – user66001
    Commented May 15, 2015 at 2:59
  • Sorry, also, XVI32 doesn't seem to be able to open up a drive, instead of just a file. Does Notepad++ and WinMerge have the same limitation?
    – user66001
    Commented May 15, 2015 at 4:00
  • @user66001 Are you perhaps looking for a sector editor? Commented May 15, 2015 at 4:57
  • Perhaps RockPaperLizard. I was unaware of the this ¿sub-category? of hex editor until now, but after looking it up the feature sets of this type of program do seem more inline with my purpose. Do you also have some suggestions for these that fit my criteria?
    – user66001
    Commented May 15, 2015 at 14:54
  • @user66001 Yes, absolutely. I appended my answer above to include that recommendation as well. Commented May 16, 2015 at 9:41

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