NOTE: A move has been made to delete this page and/or redirect it to Game_editors#Useful_Generic_File_Editors - see Talk page
Windows 95 and beyond offer a simple but effective text editor that can be used to hex edit binary files: MS-Edit.
Another hex editor that some folks use is Hex Workshop by www.BPSoft.com. Hex Workshop has the nice feature that you can make a 'structure library' with the meaning (field name) of each byte, turning the file into a little database. You will see some of these definitions (.HSLs) in the game file wikis. Hex Workshop is free for 30 days and then costs $50 if you want to keep using it. While it has a number of nice features, it does have some drawbacks. Examples: 1) Its display field can't be more than 64 characters wide (unlike EDIT), so you can't do a "one row equals one record" display for e.g. SOLDIER.DAT (reclength 68) or UNITREF.DAT (reclength 124). Related to this, 2) although it's a "modern" Windows app, you can't e.g. go to some tiny font and see a lot more in your data display window (even though you probably have 1600x1200 screen rez as a L33T gamer).
If you're on a budget, EDIT is a fine little tool. I, for one, once used Hex Workshop, but now exclusively use EDIT.
NOTE: To make screen captures, see this.
Another VERY useful hex editing program is the Universal Game Editor (UGE). It is a hex editor which displays numbers in digits instead of hex codes. It uses templates that can store variables found in the game files, so that they can be easily edited (including variables with 1, 2, or 4 bytes, or text entries).
It can be found from a variety of locations using a search engine. The program is only about 400kb and is free to use (shareware with full capabilities, but has a reminder screen).
If you REALLY know what you are doing, you could also use Raihan Kibria's frhed (FRee Hex EDitor) found here (237 kB plus source). Unlike the above two examples, this editor is completely free.
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