HEX files are very common files that we get to see online, offline, and in certain computer programs. However, we need to understand what exactly a HEX File is, its functions, and finally, how to open a .HEX files extension if you come across such file format.
What is a HEX file?
You might be wondering why this is called a File extension. Right?
Well, just like a .doc , .docx, .txt are popular for word documents and .exe is also for applications on windows.
A .HEX file extension is a Hexadecimal Source File used to transfer data and programs, which are to be stored in a Read-Only Memory (ROM) or on an EPROM.
A Hexadecimal is a way commonly used in representing numbers using the base-16 number system. I want you to see Hex and 6 and Dec as in Decimal as 10, forming base-16. It is a way used when writing and sharing numerical values. There is however something unique while counting these in this system.
The counting starts from 0 to 9, and when we finally get to 9, and we know the next number that ought to follow is 10. But in a hexadecimal counting system, 10 is replaced with an uppercase A, 11 is replaced with B, and so on. So, it would look like this; 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, etc.
Let me just briefly show you how this counting works literally.
When you reach 16, you wouldn’t write G, rather you will write 10 as the hexadecimal value, remember we stopped at 9 at one point. Let me further show you how it is counted.
Once you reach 1F, you remember there is no G in our hexadecimal. So after 1F, you continue with 20. Therefore, from what we can deduce from the table, the Hexadecimal of 32 will be 20. I am sure you are getting the idea behind this. But we wouldn’t want to be calculating these with our heads or with a notepad and sure we would just be able to memorize these.
It might seem complicated and maybe overwhelming, but the base-16 system is known to be more efficient because one hexadecimal digit is equal to four binary digits and eight binary digits represent one byte. Two Hexadecimal digits could represent the exact same thing, so in terms of memory allocation and consumption, we can say Hexadecimal files are extremely cool and better formats.
But now that we know a little of what or how this numbering format works. How do we get to open a HEX File?
How to open a HEX file
Computers that contain programming that supports HEX files should automatically open HEX files just like any other computer files.
Opening such files shouldn’t be a problem really depending on the operating System the user has; Mac, Windows, Linux, etc. It also majorly depends on the format in which the .HEX file was stored.
The .HEX file might be stored in a binary format, which means only hex editing applications can open it.
On the other hand, .HEX stored in text formats can only be opened by text editors. Therefore, text editors cannot open .HEX files that are in binary format.
How to open .HEX files on Mac
Step 1: Open the relevant file with Xcode.
Step 2: Press Command + Shift + J on the keyboard
Step 3: On the left page, Right Click on the File Name
Step 4: Open as Hex
Other useful programs that can open HEX files on MAC are TextEdit, iBored it, HexEditor, UltraEdit, iHex – Hex Fiend, Synalize It, 010 Editor, etc.
How to Open HEX File on Windows PC
Opening the HEX File on Windows is a bit straightforward using the right tools. You need to get the professional version of Visual Studio as it comes with a preinstalled Hex Editor called ‘Visual Studio Binary Editor’.
Step 1: Download and install Visual Studio Professional
Step 2: Immediately it is installed, Right-click on the hex file you want to open.
Step 3: Select ‘Open With’ just beside the ‘Open’ button and you will see a drop-down with options.
Step 4: Select Binary Editor. Then a file will open displaying the contents of the file in hexadecimal.
* This application allows you to copy, paste, overwrite and even delete. However, it doesn’t have the advanced feature that supports file shredding.
There are also some programs that come by default on Windows Operating System like Windows Notepad and Word pad that can be used to open HEX Files.
HeavenTools, Cygnus Hex Editor, HHD Hex Editor, Notepad++, Hex Workshop, XxD, XVI32 [which can be run using an SD Card, USB Stick] and so many other ones.
But in all, I recommend this Visual Studio Professional because of its multi-functionality.
How to Open HEX Files Online
You can visit any of the listed websites; file-extension.org, online-conver.com, onlineexeditor.com, etc.
How to convert .HEX Files
We can not finish this entire how-to article, without telling you how to convert .HEX Files to text or other file formats and extensions. But you don’t need to be disturbed about the technicality because the same software that opens them can also be used to convert them.
But people usually carry out some of their conversions online with converting websites like online-convert.com, onlinehextools.com , tomeko.net , etc.