Text editor to open big (giant, huge, large) text files


I mean 100+ MB big; such text files can push the envelope of editors.

I need to look through a large XML file, but cannot if the editor is buggy.

Any suggestions?

3/14/2010 8:24:59 PM

Accepted Answer

Free read-only viewers:

  • Large Text File Viewer (Windows) – Fully customizable theming (colors, fonts, word wrap, tab size). Supports horizontal and vertical split view. Also support file following and regex search. Very fast, simple, and has small executable size.
  • klogg (Windows, macOS, Linux) – A maintained fork of glogg, its main feature is regular expression search. It can also watch files, allows the user to mark lines, and has serious optimizations built in. But from a UI standpoint, it's ugly and clunky.
  • LogExpert (Windows) – "A GUI replacement for tail." It's really a log file analyzer, not a large file viewer, and in one test it required 10 seconds and 700 MB of RAM to load a 250 MB file. But its killer features are the columnizer (parse logs that are in CSV, JSONL, etc. and display in a spreadsheet format) and the highlighter (show lines with certain words in certain colors). Also supports file following, tabs, multifiles, bookmarks, search, plugins, and external tools.
  • Lister (Windows) – Very small and minimalist. It's one executable, barely 500 KB, but it still supports searching (with regexes), printing, a hex editor mode, and settings.
  • loxx (Windows) – Supports file following, highlighting, line numbers, huge files, regex, multiple files and views, and much more. The free version can not: process regex, filter files, synchronize timestamps, and save changed files.

Free editors:

  • Your regular editor or IDE. Modern editors can handle surprisingly large files. In particular, Vim (Windows, macOS, Linux), Emacs (Windows, macOS, Linux), Notepad++ (Windows), Sublime Text (Windows, macOS, Linux), and VS Code (Windows, macOS, Linux) support large (~4 GB) files, assuming you have the RAM.
  • Large File Editor (Windows) – Opens and edits TB+ files, supports Unicode, uses little memory, has XML-specific features, and includes a binary mode.
  • GigaEdit (Windows) – Supports searching, character statistics, and font customization. But it's buggy – with large files, it only allows overwriting characters, not inserting them; it doesn't respect LF as a line terminator, only CRLF; and it's slow.

Builtin programs (no installation required):

  • less (macOS, Linux) – The traditional Unix command-line pager tool. Lets you view text files of practically any size. Can be installed on Windows, too.
  • Notepad (Windows) – Decent with large files, especially with word wrap turned off.
  • MORE (Windows) – This refers to the Windows MORE, not the Unix more. A console program that allows you to view a file, one screen at a time.

Web viewers:

Paid editors:

  • 010 Editor (Windows, macOS, Linux) – Opens giant (as large as 50 GB) files.
  • SlickEdit (Windows, macOS, Linux) – Opens large files.
  • UltraEdit (Windows, macOS, Linux) – Opens files of more than 6 GB, but the configuration must be changed for this to be practical: Menu » Advanced » Configuration » File Handling » Temporary Files » Open file without temp file...
  • EmEditor (Windows) – Handles very large text files nicely (officially up to 248 GB, but as much as 900 GB according to one report).
5/13/2020 1:26:11 AM

Tips and tricks


Why are you using editors to just look at a (large) file?

Under *nix or Cygwin, just use less. (There is a famous saying – "less is more, more or less" – because "less" replaced the earlier Unix command "more", with the addition that you could scroll back up.) Searching and navigating under less is very similar to Vim, but there is no swap file and little RAM used.

There is a Win32 port of GNU less. See the "less" section of the answer above.


Perl is good for quick scripts, and its .. (range flip-flop) operator makes for a nice selection mechanism to limit the crud you have to wade through.

For example:

$ perl -n -e 'print if ( 1000000 .. 2000000)' humongo.txt | less

This will extract everything from line 1 million to line 2 million, and allow you to sift the output manually in less.

Another example:

$ perl -n -e 'print if ( /regex one/ .. /regex two/)' humongo.txt | less

This starts printing when the "regular expression one" finds something, and stops when the "regular expression two" find the end of an interesting block. It may find multiple blocks. Sift the output...


This is another useful tool you can use. To quote the Wikipedia article:

logparser is a flexible command line utility that was initially written by Gabriele Giuseppini, a Microsoft employee, to automate tests for IIS logging. It was intended for use with the Windows operating system, and was included with the IIS 6.0 Resource Kit Tools. The default behavior of logparser works like a "data processing pipeline", by taking an SQL expression on the command line, and outputting the lines containing matches for the SQL expression.

Microsoft describes Logparser as a powerful, versatile tool that provides universal query access to text-based data such as log files, XML files and CSV files, as well as key data sources on the Windows operating system such as the Event Log, the Registry, the file system, and Active Directory. The results of the input query can be custom-formatted in text based output, or they can be persisted to more specialty targets like SQL, SYSLOG, or a chart.

Example usage:

C:\>logparser.exe -i:textline -o:tsv "select Index, Text from 'c:\path\to\file.log' where line > 1000 and line < 2000"
C:\>logparser.exe -i:textline -o:tsv "select Index, Text from 'c:\path\to\file.log' where line like '%pattern%'"

The relativity of sizes

100 MB isn't too big. 3 GB is getting kind of big. I used to work at a print & mail facility that created about 2% of U.S. first class mail. One of the systems for which I was the tech lead accounted for about 15+% of the pieces of mail. We had some big files to debug here and there.

And more...

Feel free to add more tools and information here. This answer is community wiki for a reason! We all need more advice on dealing with large amounts of data...


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