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Also known as binary file editors or byte editors, hex editors are computer programs designed for the manipulation of the binary data that makes up a computer file.

Its name comes from hexadecimal, a standard numerical format used to represent binary data. A computer file generally occupies multiple areas on the platter of a hard disk drive, and its contents are combined to form the file.

Hex editors are sometimes confused with disk editors, which are used to read, edit, and write raw data to computer hard drives and other removable media. Sometimes known as sector editors, a disk editor differs from a hex editor in that, while the latter is used to edit files, the former has access to the underlying disk structures, such as the master boot record, volume boot records, file system, and directories. Several hex editors also have disk editor features.

With a hex editor, a user can view and edit the raw contents of a file, as opposed to the interpretation of the same content that higher-level application software might associate with the file format. In other words, this might be raw image data, rather than the way in which image editing software would interpret and display the same file.

Hex editors are used for correcting corrupted data and may be used to bypass application edit checks that would otherwise prevent the correction of erroneous data, as well as to patch executable programs in order to change or add a few instructions rather than recompiling the program.

In hex editor applications, the data of the computer file is usually represented as hexadecimal values assorted into four groups of four bytes, or two groups of eight bytes, followed by one group of sixteen printable ASCII characters that correspond to each pair of hex values. Non-printable ASCII characters and those that would take more than one character space, such as a tab, are usually represented by a dot in the following ASCII field.

Some hex editors include a template system that can be used to present the sequence of bytes in a binary file in a structured manner, covering all or part of the desired file format. The template GUI is often displayed in a separate tool window next to the main hex editor and some consist only of a template GUI.

Hex editors may also include a scripting system that can be used to create macro-like functions, as a sequence of user interface commands that automate common tasks. Some scripting languages resemble MS-DOS batch files, while others are full scripting languages like Lua or Python.

Plugins may extend the functionality of the editor.

The focus of this category is on hex editors.

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