Files with the extension .HEX - what and how can they be opened

The hex file format, abbreviated hex or base-16, is the raw data structure followed by all files stored on your computer. Although literally every document is stored in this format, it is almost impossible to find it on a PC. Although not everyone knows that the ability to directly change the raw bits and bytes on a PC can sometimes be very useful.

Work with files with the extension .HEX.

What is HEX Extension?

The number system that people use to calculate is called decimal (a number from 0 to 9), and was invented by the Persians about 6, 000 years ago. In the 1950s or 1960s, IBM formalized the hexadecimal number system, which is a short way to represent binary data. Instead of using digits 0-9, a hexadecimal number uses digits from 0 to F. Having reached the end of numeric "digits", you simply increase the number to the left by one, just like you do with the decimal number system.

Files with the HEX extension have the same properties as the binary ones. All bytes are placed one by one. Address information or checksums are not added. The only difference with the binary format is that each byte is converted to 2 ASCII characters in the range 0-9 and AF, representing 2 hexadecimal digits. These characters are grouped in rows. The number of a pair in a line can usually vary from 1 to 255, where the most common length is 16 or 32 pairs. Each line ends with a pair of CR (ASCII value $ 0D) or CRLF (ASCII). To work with such documents requires a special program-editor hex files.

How To Open HEX File

From time to time you may encounter a file that you simply cannot open. It is of normal size, but Word or Adobe will not open it. How to open such a format on a computer? The first thing to do is open the hex file in a hex editor. Most documents at the very beginning contain information that describes what kind of a document it can be. When your system sees this extension, it will try to start Microsoft Word to open the document, but it will not work. Open the file in a hex editor, and it will immediately become clear that the document is indeed a PDF file (or some other file), and you can open it directly in Adobe Acrobat or another suitable application for viewing.

Hacking games and files

Another popular reason you can use a hex editor is hacking games. You can download a document saving the game and change the amount of money, for example, from 1, 000 to 1, 000, 000 dollars. In later games, everything is much more complicated. Many modern games contain either compression or encryption, which is many times more difficult to decompile the state of conservation or game. However, some games still allow you to edit certain variables, for example, Sonic Spinball. In addition to viewing game files, you can sometimes extract other important information from a saved file that you would otherwise not have access to. This is highly dependent on the type of file and what information you are looking for, but using a hex editor is useful for determining what is in the document.

Debugging and Editing

Finally, the last basic reason why you can use a hex editor is if you are a programmer and you need to debug the code. Instead of going back to recompiling the code, simple hexadecimal editing may be required to validate the pattern. But first, make sure you have a backup before changing any files with a hex editor.

Which hex editors to use

Hex editor is a software used to view and edit binary files. A binary document is a document that contains data in machine-readable form. HEX editors allow you to modify the contents of the raw file data. Because the hex editor is used to edit binary files, they are sometimes called a binary editor or binary file editor. If you open a document with a hex editor, a message appears stating that the document is being edited in hexadecimal format, and the process of using a hex editor is called hexadecimal editing. Hex editors differ from ordinary text in a number of functions. The basis of the hex editor is that they display the raw contents of the file. No coding or translation to text - only raw machine code. Second, the line numbers instead are the offset address from the beginning of the file. We have selected some of the best free programs for viewing and editing HEX documents.


HxD is a free hex editor that can open and change computer code. It is a very powerful utility in the right hands, which can check, compare and diagnose files, disks, disk images, memory and logs, as well as correct errors and restore the disk structure.


  • Really big data - the latest version of HxD processes large data sets. If it fits on a disk, HxD will be able to open it.
  • Standard options - HxD contains many useful add-ons, such as a checksum generator, support for multiple character sets, a RAM editor, a file shredder, splitting and merging, an unlimited number of undoes and a portable version.
  • Data export - the program exports data into source code (C, C #, Java, Pascal and VB.NET) or in hexadecimal formats.


  • Not for the inexperienced user, but this is not a disadvantage. The program is aimed at advanced users.

DeltaHex Editor

One of the best hex editors based on the deltahex library. Use the action "Open as hex" in the main menu "File" or in the context menu of project files.


  • Displays data as a hexadecimal code, text preview.
  • Paste and Overwrite edit modes.
  • Support selection and clipboard.
  • Undo / redo.
  • Select encoding.
  • Display non-printable characters.
  • Codes can also be binary, octal, or decimal.
  • Search text / hex code with the corresponding backlight.
  • Delta mode - changes are only saved in memory before saving.
  • Support huge files.

Free Hex Editor Neo

Free Hex Editor Neo is the fastest free binary file editor for the Windows platform. Neo Hex Editor's data processing algorithms are extremely optimized and carefully tuned to handle large file operations.

Program features:

  • Unlimited undo / redo.
  • Edit, Copy, Cut, Paste, Delete, Fill, Import / Export, Paste template / file, Resize file, Move to beginning, Change bits.
  • Search and replace templates.
  • Backlight.
  • Bytes, words, double words, grouping four words.
  • Hexadecimal, Decimal, Octal, Binary, etc. data presentation.
  • Change file attributes.
  • Clipboard data analysis.
  • Create binary patches, search / replace regular expressions.
  • Multilingual interface.

Functions and features of the utility:

  • Statistics and Hexadecimal Analyzer - the binary data analysis module allows analyzing the distribution of bytes, characters and strings by hexadecimal dumps and text data. Neo Binary Analyzer supports the following types of templates: ASCII / Unicode character and string patterns, Hex, Decimal, Octal, Binary, Float, Double, and RegEx (Regular Expression) data patterns.
  • A graphical representation of the analyzed data in the Neo user interface - software supports heat map and visualization of histogram data. You can also analyze a binary document in the form of descriptive statistics: mean, sample variance, standard deviation, standard error, kurtosis, asymmetry, median, range, minimum, maximum, sum, etc.
  • File Comparison - Neo is an advanced comparison tool in hexadecimal format. The built-in hex editor allows you to compare 2 hexadecimal files using two different comparison algorithms: simple (from byte to byte) and difference algorithm (block matching).
  • The RAM Editor - a process modifier allows you to edit the memory and process the data loaded into the PC's RAM by the operating system. RAM Explorer provides the ability to easily view loaded processes and go to certain offsets. Then you can directly access these data blocks and edit them in a hex editor window. Thus, Hex Editor Neo provides the ability to view and edit the data of binary programs directly in RAM.
  • Disassembler - the program also allows you to parse executable files x86, x64 and. NET. Neo Assembler View supports the following instruction sets: x86, x86-64, MMX, SSE, SSE2, 3DNow !, MSIL. You can download symbol files for both 32-bit and 64-bit executables. Neo - just the perfect editor dll / exe!
  • Binary patterns / structure editor - the program supports parsing the internal structure of the following files: exe, dll, sys, ocx, bmp, png, avi, rar, icc, vhd, zip, tiff, wav, tga, psd, pic, pcx, pal, emf eps.
  • Module Structure View - allows you to customize binary templates. You can write your own definition of the file structure using an internal language like C / C ++ for almost any binary document. For example, if you want to edit data files, you need to first describe the file structure, and then link it to a specific file using a special editor window.
  • The file structure analyzer makes binary adjustments much easier than simply editing the raw hexadecimal bytes. Open, view, and edit hex / bin files with unprecedented ease!

Hex Editor Neo provides basic, advanced and even innovative features. Hexadecimal editing is now available to every novice user!


The favorite hex editor for most programmers. PSPad, in addition to being a great text and code editor, offers the option “Open in the HEX Editor ...”, which launches a special editing mode. When you are in this mode, you can see the location and hexadecimal values ​​of each bit of the file. You have two options for adjusting — you can edit hexadecimal values ​​by location, or on the right you have an alphanumeric representation of this value, which you can also edit.


XVI32 is also a very capable hex editor. As in PSPad, you can edit hexadecimal values ​​directly or through the display of characters. It also has several advanced tools for editing hexadecimal codes, such as an address calculator for checking offsets and other parameters specific to hexadecimal data that can help you bypass a hexadecimal document. If you, of course, know what you are doing.

Knowing how your PC works is becoming more and more important as technology becomes simpler and easier to use. If you have any questions about editing hex files, leave a comment below this article.