Back in the dark ages of computing I learned a trick. Find and replace. Nearly every word processor or database or spread sheet has the function built in.
Search for a string of text within a document or file. Then replace it with something else. It’s a simple idea with tremendous time saving results. For example, change an address in hundreds of documents with a click.
Search, And Ye Shall Find. And Replace
The problem with find and replace in most Mac or Windows PC apps is the inherent limitations. Find and replace in Word only works on Word documents.
Most find and replace functions are limited to the document that’s open at the moment.
To find and replace text in many hundreds of documents at the same time requires a dedicated app.
One of the more useful ones is aptly named. Find & Replace It! What it does is what you expect. It finds strings of text within files—hundreds or thousands of files—and replaces the text with something else.
This is not your mother’s find and replace utility. Find & Replace It! doesn’t work the same as search and replace in Word or Pages or elsewhere. First, it’ll handle dozens of different kinds of text encodings. From UTF-8 to Chinese. Non-ASCII to different kinds of end-of-line text (Mac, Unix, Windows, etc).
The find and replace function isn’t limited to a 100 page Word document. It’ll perform the same function in a log file thats 10-gigabytes. There’s even a built-in regular expression editor if you want and need to get all geeky about the search process.
Even better, Find & Replace It! gives you a preview window so you can see the found and replaced text side-by-side—before replacement. This is a tool that’s built for serious work.
It comes with seven panes—floating windows which can be arranged on screen to fit your needs. Each pane can be docked with other panes. Each pane contains different tools for searching, replacing, changing text case, file encoding, preview, adding expressions.
It’s also a multi-platform app. The Mac version features a vertical toolbar, while the Windows version is a more traditional horizontal toolbar. Find & Replace It! is remarkably useful in the right environment. There’s also a steep learning curve as the number of complex functions is high.
If you need to dig into a large number of large files to find and replace strings of text, Find & Replace It! is a good app to look at first.