dnGrep is a powerful search / replace tool for Windows


DnGrep is a powerful text search and replace tool for Windows. It comes packed with all the functionality you'd expect from anything with the GREP name, but a well-designed interface ensures it's also very easy to use.

Getting started, for example, is as easy as specifying a path to search, a text string to look for, clicking "Search" and waiting for the results. It's much like any other search tool, really, although even here it’s delivering more than you might expect, as the program searches archives, PDFs and Word documents, as well as plain text files.

When you need more power, you can tweak your search by setting up custom include or exclude filters. You’re able to search only files in a given size range, to include/exclude hidden and binary files, even to search files of a specific encoding only.

DnGrep supports various search types, including text, regular expressions, phonetic and (for XML documents) XPath, and has options to run case-sensitive, multiline or whole word searches.

By default any search matches are listed in a Results pane. Double-clicking any of these displays the lines containing your text, with a couple of surrounding lines for context, and there’s a Preview window where you’re able to browse the entire document.

DnGrep also provides right-click options to work with individual files (opening them, their containing folder, viewing properties), as well as tools to process the full set of files (move, copy or delete them).

There's an option to replace your search text with something else, of course: you could just enter your new text in the Replace box and leave dnGrep to do its work. Some thoughtful extras mean this is safer than usual, too. A "Test" option shows you the results of complex searches (helpful with complex regular expressions), and if it still goes wrong then there’s an "Undo" to restore your original files.

Configuring all this can take a little while, at least initially. But dnGrep maintains all your settings between sessions -- even the "search for" and "replace" text -- so once you’re set up, everything stays just as it was last time. The program also maintains a history of recent searches, and there’s a Bookmark system for queries you’ll use regularly.

We also had some problems. DnGrep searches crashed a couple of times during testing, and we're not sure why. A warning message told us to look in the log, which wasn't where the Help file said it should be (why not just have a button to display it?), and although there was some information in the Windows Event Logs it didn’t help us much. Or at all, really.

This could be some issue specific to our system, though, so don’t let it put you off. DnGrep is an excellent search tool, a great balance between power and ease of use: give it a try.

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