Have you ever fainted from the sheer idea of having to find and replace text in millions of files? Have you ever felt helpless because you needed to search and replace different data 50 times at once? Have you ever lost original files while doing normal text processing tasks? If you’ve found yourself in any of these situations, then it is time to feel a bit tougher, at least mentally.
Below, we review 25 useful text batch processing tools. These tools will help you search and replace text in millions of files in the blink of an eye. Many of them even allow you to use regular expressions to improve your search and replace operations, saving you precious hours on day-to-day text-processing tasks.
These tools can be used by programmers and developers, novice and experienced alike, to perform repetitive text-processing tasks. At the end of this post, you’ll find a table summarizing the features of the tools reviewed here, which will help you decide on the best tool for your particular purpose. You many want to take a look at 15 Useful Batch Image Processors1031 as well.
Features Comparison Table
Let’s first take a look at the features/price comparison table that features all applications presented in this post. You’ll find a detailed description of each tool under the table.
|Feature Comparison Table|
|Search and Replace||Preview||Regular Expression||Batch Replace||OS||Price|
|Aba Search & Replace2||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Win||$30|
|Actual Search & Replace573||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Win||$29.95|
|Automator346||Create flexible Workflows||Mac||–|
|Batch Text Replacer827||Yes||Yes||Wildcards||Yes||Win||$29.95|
|Global Search and Replace13||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Win||19.95|
|HandyFile Find and Replace14||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Win||$23.45|
|Mass File Editor15||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Win||$29.95|
|Quick Search & Replace19||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Win||Free|
|Search and Replace20||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Win||$25|
|Text Filterer6626||Only Search||Yes||Yes||No||Win||$19.90|
TextSoap (Mac, Windows)
TextSoap3024 is a great new bathing soap. Okay, you probably don’t believe that, but it is a text-cleaning utility and goes well beyond that. You can find any instances of a word and italicize it. Remove extra spaces and garbage characters without losing the format of your text. Click and you’re done. It includes a scrub function, which removes extra spaces, fixes broken paragraphs, removes email forwarding marks (>) and more.
TextSoap can be integrated directly in Apple Mail, TextEdit, Eudora, Pages, MS Word, TextWrangler, BBEdit, Coda and much more. TextSoap also supports AppleScript and Automator integration, allowing you to take full advantage of TextSoap’s features for automated workflow. It includes features such as text tagging based on style and conversion from RTF to HTML, which make jobs even easier.
Some users complained about freezing issues when using particular characters (e.g. carriage returns), but I could not reproduce them on Windows after about 20 minutes. TextSoap is designed for Mac OS X 10.5, and a single-user license costs $39.95 You can download the free trial here31.
You can tell it to rename a large group of files, have it resize a batch of photos to fit in your iPhoto slideshow, automatically create iCal events, and do other things that can simplify your workflow. And you don’t need to know a thing about programming to control Automator – just drag and drop commands in the interface to create your own Automator Workflows. Automator346 can create actions for you.
An action performs a discrete task, such as opening a file, cropping an image, or sending a message. A workflow is a number of actions in a particular sequence; when the workflow executes, data is piped from one action to the next until the desired result is achieved. Automator was introduced in Mac OS X version 10.4. It does not run on earlier systems. You can repeat a workflow for a specified number of times or a specified time duration and this is the best part. You can also create more useful Automator workflows with actions for RSS feeds, iSight camera video snapshots, PDF manipulation, and much more.
Advanced Find and Replace (Windows)
Advanced Find and Replace37 serves as a fine replacement of the default find and replace function in Windows. It’s fast, easy to use and a great time-saver for programmers. This powerful utility lets you perform text searches on your local computer as if you were using a Web-based search engine. It is for Windows only and runs on Windows 9x/NT/2000/Me/XP/2003/Vista. Of course, it allows you to search multiple documents (including MS Office documents) and batch replace text in them.
The utility supports Perl-style regular expressions (tempting, isn’t it?) and saves results in XML format. Advanced Find and Replace also supports the use of command-line parameters, for people who dislike working with GUIs. The program also allows you to replace simple and multi-line strings. The documentation is also awesome, with good examples to help you understand how things work. In short, if you need to find and replace, you need this program. It’s fast, simple yet powerful.
TextSpresso (Mac, Win)
TextSpresso4025 helps in cleaning and processing text on both Mac and Windows. Its spontaneous interface and feature set compliment each other. It has simply awesome filters to use e.g. MultiFilter, pattern matching, regular expression, sorting, and BASIC Scripts. If some of its pre built features are against your liking then you can simply create one to suit your own requirements. It is good at fast, multithreaded batch processing of files.
One of the features which I like is that you can view and edit the text you’re cleaning without a separate application. Another feature which you get from this small tool is 100 levels of undo per document which is great. It is a great text editor too. Another feature which you will feel like using is unicode text system with support for translation to/from dozens of character encodings. For Mac you require Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher and for windows you need Windows (98/ME/2000/XP).
Its cost starts at $25.
PowerGrep43 comes with a “three-month unconditional money-back guarantee.” You can quickly search text and binary files, compressed archives, MS Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDF files, OpenOffice documents, Lotus spreadsheets, Zip files and more on a network and PC. Regular expressions can be used to conveniently specify text to search for. The best part is that you can search for binary data as well as words and phrases. After searching and replacing, you have the option to preview the results without modifying any files. You also benefit from flexible backup and undo options, which are icing on the cake.
PowerGrep runs on Windows 98/ME/NT4/2000/XP/Vista. One other feature I like is being able to save PowerGREP actions and invoke them from the command line to automate recurring tasks. Developers can integrate PowerGREP actions and results with enterprise software through PowerGREP’s open XML file formats.
MultiFind46 allows you to search multiple files by text string, binary data, regular expressions, file size, file date and more. After you have replaced strings in a file, you can make backup copies, too. You can conduct multiple search and replace operations at the same time, with each result appearing on a separate tab. MultiFind runs on Windows 2000/XP/Vista. Its tightly packed layout makes it easy to see all options for a single search and replace operation in one window.
TextCrawler4922 enables you to instantly find and replace words and phrases across multiple files and folders. It’s fast, easy to use, and its regular expression engine allows you to perform sophisticated searches, conduct batch operations, extract text from files and more. The extensions supported include TXT, LOG, HTM, CSS, PHP, JS, CSV, INI and STR. Sadly, DOC is not supported.
If you are a pro with regular expressions, then working with this application will be a dream and overall very productive. The interface is as simple as it gets. TextCrawler is supported by Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista. Its sole drawback, in my view, is the lack of support for DOC files.
Quick Search & Replace (Windows)
With Quick Search & Replace, replacing text in a group of documents, usually a tedious chore, works like a charm. You can even search previous results, thus saving you from having to start all over again. Search results can further be filtered by size and last modification date. The undo and backup features make file modification tasks easy, and you can even automate your search and replace tasks.
Like Google Book Search, Quick Search & Replace highlights the words and phrases you searched for in the results. You can search files by phrase, multi-line (one or several adjacent lines in a document) and regular expressions. The feature I like is being able to save search results for later use.
Text Monkey PRO (Windows)
Text Monkey5427 has dozens of useful text processing functions designed to save you time and effort on all types of editing tasks. It cleans up over-quoted emails, converts text to HTML, does a number of line operations (e.g. deleting blank lines), performs indent and space operations (e.g. reducing space runs to one space) and does lots of other sort, auto-number and conversion operations. And let’s not forget the replace operations, which can save you a lot of time and effort. Text Monkey can also format any text that has been copied to the clipboard and offers more than 40 different functions to choose from.
Actual Search & Replace (Windows)
Actual Search & Replace573, a useful tool, is fast and easy to use and of particular value to site owners who deal with ever-changing content on websites. Use it to find files and execute search and replace operations across multiple files. You can also use sophisticated batch replace features. The usual file backup and undo options are included.
As with some of the other tools reviewed here, this one also allows you to search previous results, thus saving precious time. The replace function lets you replace text, insert text before and after search occurrences, delete text and replace text with spaces. Actual Search & Replace can also be used as a command-line utility.
It is supported by Windows 95/98/ME/2000/NT/XP/Vista/Server 2003, and it worked just fine for me. Version 2.8.2 adds the batch replace command. You can save reports on found files and detailed information about their inclusions.
Advanced Replace Tools (Windows)
Advanced Replace Tool (ART)60 is an advanced text replacement utility that site owners and programmers (and anyone who uses a computer) will find indispensable. ART automates repetitive tasks. Whether you want to edit, run text change functions or batch replace text and binary data, ART does it all with ease on both local machines and networks.
It includes a finder, replacer and batch replacer, each with a different set of easy-to-use features. It can find duplicate files, insert text blocks in the header and footer of a file, replace text in hundreds of files from several sub-directories in one go, as well as perform the usual functions associated with making backups of files.
Its GUI supports English, French, Norwegian, Spanish, Hungarian, Slovak, Russian and Macedonian. It runs on Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/2003/XP.
For text processing functions, this is a panacea. With TextPipe6323, you specify all your text processing functions in one place rather than having to remember and manually manage multiple jobs across various text editors, command-line tools, custom scripts and Word and Excel macros. TextPipe makes it easy to work with HTML, XML, CSV, ZIP, DOCX, XLSTX, PPTX, ASCII, ANSI, Unicode, EBCDIC, Spooled print files, binary files, etc. One of the great features of TextPipe is that it can handle files of unlimited size, even larger than 2 GB!
Textpipe offers lots of filters to simplify your tasks, but if the default ones are not for you, you can write your own in VBScript or JScript. TextPipe comes in different versions to suit all your needs, such as TextPipe Pro, TextPipe Standard, TextPipe Lite, TextPipe Server, TextPipe Pro Run Time and TextPipe Engine, each with a different cost, obviously. It’s blazingly powerful. Despite an amazing range of filters, it is very easy to use and not confusing. I’m impressed by TextPipe’s wide range of features and wouldn’t hesitate recommending this product.
Text Filterer (Windows)
Text Filterer6626 works with hard and removable drives, as well as LAN. Its classic Explorer-like interface allows you to easily switch between viewing the contents of found documents in the preview pane and navigating back and forth through lists of found entries. The feature I like most is being able to browse your files by folder in the result browser with just one click. Search queries also act as filters and are reusable in later sessions.
Text Filterer supports document formats such as Unicode, RTF, HTML, XLS, PDF and MS Word, image formats such as BMP, ICO, GIF, TIFF, PNG, JPEG, PSD and WMF and archive formats such as ZIP, RAR, MHT and CHM at any level of nesting! Neat, huh? I tried extracting files from some of these archive formats and am very impressed with this feature. Being able to use meaningful names and choose from plenty of predefined commonly used definitions makes the task of performing regular expression operations dramatically simpler.
Mass File Editor (Windows)
Along with a powerful text operations engine, Mass File Editor69 also functions as a fully featured text editor. It allows you to build a list of complex file-processing rules that can be applied with one click. You can prepare a list of individual files, file lists or whole directories to be searched. One of the things I like is that it is super-fast and usually requires clicking one button to search all the files in a list, with no user attention required.
A regular expression search produces a set of matches and sub-matches (or sub-expressions) from throughout a file and stores it in a data stack to be used as a filter for other editing rules. What I also like is that Mass File Editor supports both Windows and UNIX-style end-of-line characters CR/LF and converts between them. System-wide dragging and dropping allows you to move text or whole files around. And I simply love the unlimited undo and redo actions it allows.
Ferrite makes it easy to convert, manipulate and extract data from text documents. With a good GUI, it is designed to be easy to use for the novice and expert alike. It has a powerful engine for regular expressions, which allows intelligent data conversion and manipulation. Ferrite processes files of any size.
HandyFile Find and Replace (Windows)
HandyFile74 offers, according to its website, far more search and replace features than any other program — but I haven’t used them all. It comes in several editions, such as Text Aid Kit, Office Edition and Text Workbench.
Text Aid Kit is the basic edition, and the Office Edition has all of the features in the Text Aid Kit plus a range of functions designed especially for office use. Text Workbench supports Unicode and UTF-8 files and can search, find and replace text in files on remote FTP servers.
All of the editions provide powerful regular expression and batch replacement features. One feature I like is the regular expressions function, which really is fast. The common backup features are included here. Other impressive features are the wide-ranging user interface, the clear diagnostic messages, and its ability to keep files safe by processing replacement commands in the memory, not the files.
Finders Keepers (Windows)
Finders Keepers77‘ four different kinds of file searches, including indexed text retrieval, finds anything you’re looking for, even if the text in the file is misspelled or you don’t know how to spell it. Amazing, isn’t it? It supports finding and replacing anything in local or network files, creating automatic backups, saving search results and searching Zip files. It runs on Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2K/XP/Vista.
MultiBatcher is much more than a mere search and replace utility. You can automatically update and upload files to multiple FTP servers. You can resize and create thumbnails of images. You can optimize HTML space, thereby decreasing overall Web page sizes. Its regular expressions function is obviously great.
I particularly like the fact that programmers can extend its capabilities by adding modules or plug-ins that can create and perform other specialized batch operations and tasks. MultiBatcher uses built-in conversion, batch and automation tools to save time.
Batch Text Replacer (Windows)
Batch Text Replacer827 is convenient for developers, programmers, Web designers, network administrators and the like. Easily search and replace one or more strings in more than one type of file in more than one folder simultaneously. ANSI, UTF-8 and Unicode files are supported, along with TXT, CSV, HTM, XML, ASP, CPP, H, DPR, PAS, VBS, JS and a lot more. The usual backup features are here.
You can make use of wildcards to replace strings. Batch Text Replacer makes use of white space normalization to find blocks of text with the same semantics in scripts and source codes. It is simple to use and comes with easy-to-access documentation. But, again, it seems a bit pricey. The price for home use is $29.95.
Aba Search & Replace (Windows)
In addition to the usual search and replace and other text-processing tasks, Aba85 can quickly correct errors on your Web pages, replace banners and copyright notices, change method names, etc. As with all professional search and replace tools, it also allows you to preview the results in context before performing the replacement.
Regular expressions also come as a great help to speed up search and replace tasks and make them more refined. Aba is as useful for Web designers as it is for programmers: it helps programmers insert headers (complete with author name, copyrights, etc.) at the top of each source code file; it helps Web designers, among other things, style buttons, table cells, etc. What I like most is that within regular expressions, you can use Unicode-enabled character classes. It has extensive documentation, with easy-to-understand examples.
BK ReplaceEm (Windows)
BK ReplaceEm898 is essentially a text-based search and replace program. However, unlike the search and replace functionality of standard text editors, BK ReplaceEm is designed to operate on multiple text files at once. And you need not only perform one search and replace operation per file; you can set up a list of operations to perform.
Another excellent feature I liked is that you can specify a different destination for the file in which you are replacing text. This is useful, for example, if you run a search and replace operation on a file, save it to one destination, then run a different search and replace operation on the same source file and save it to a different destination, and then compare the two files. And best of all, you can use evergreen regular expressions.
Global Search and Replace (Windows)
Global Search and Replace92 is a small tool with the usual search and replace features, including case-sensitive search. It lets you make good use of regular expressions. I very much liked its user interface and the fact that you can save search criteria to use later on. Just enter the path, select the check box labelled “Include sub-directories,” enter the File mask (e.g. *.txt — enter more than one file mask by using a pipe separator “|”) and you are good to go.
Global Search and Replace comes without any adware or spyware and is built for Windows 98/2000/XP/Vista. You can download the trial version here93. It costs $19.95, and you get free upgrades for two years.
Search and Replace (Windows)
Simply put, Search and Replace95 is an award-winning, easy-to-use utility loved equally by programmers and novice computer users. It is really fast, and you can view color-coded results in context with user-configurable fonts and colors. It can search multiple directories and sub-directories and even uses advanced egrep syntax for regular expression searching and replacing.
You can also perform binary search and replace with this feature. Search and Replace is significantly faster than other Windows grep-only utilities, and it allows replacing for the same price as programs with grep-only capabilities. International versions of the application include support for German, Dutch, French, Italian, etc. Search and Replace starts at $25.
Seeker98 not only searches for files and file contents, it also lets you replace text inside files. Seeker supports both regular expressions and command-line parameters, and both features worked well for me. Seeker supports four advanced reporting models: detailed file list, structured report, summary report and summary report with file list; and all results can be viewed in any of those modes.
All search results are conveniently highlighted, which improves its already easy-to-use interface. I give it 10 out of 10 for its super-fast search speed. Seeker works on Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista. Overall, it is a good-quality application, with a good GUI.
V-Grep101 is an easy-to-use, feature-rich application for Windows. You can speed up searches by using masks (which are kind of like wildcards) to describe complex patterns. Regular expressions functionality makes the search experience even more enriching. In Unix-class systems, regular expressions are handled by a program called GREP (global regular expression print).
V-Grep (visual GREP) gives you all the functionality of GREP and lots of other very useful options, all packed in a typical Windows GUI. V-Grep also allows you to search for files without knowing any regular expressions, but even then, its more legible search results make it much better than Windows’ built-in search feature.
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