One of the very first functions that made me fall in love with personal computing way back in the last century, back before there was PC-DOS, before Windows or Mac, was the ability to type in a string of commands and find those strings within various files.
Most of us have abandoned daily use of Terminal.app and the command line interface died for the masses of PC users when Windows 95 hit the streets, but a Mac is based upon various Unix components, and one that I love is the ability to replace strings of text within a document, file, or code. Think of it as a geek’s Search and Replace. Enter a string of text and the app (or specific command line instructions) can search multiple files to find and even replace a string of text or code or whatever.
Think of an easier way to implement these two words: RegEx. Alright, that’s one word. But it sounds like two words.
A regular expression, regex or regexp (sometimes called a rational expression) is, in theoretical computer science and formal language theory, a sequence of characters that define a search pattern. Usually this pattern is then used by string searching algorithms for “find” or “find and replace” operations on strings.
See? Search and replace.
I get some sort of sensual tactile good vibe whenever I search for text within files. It’s like planting, cultivating, and pruning a garden, but without the dirt or bugs. In the past I shared a couple of options to search for text in files, including Find & Replace It! and iFindText, but here’s another you may like to use, too. This one is called String Replacer. You know from the name what it does.
In essence, what you’re doing with String Replacer and similar apps is obvious. Select a file or files to search. Enter a string of words, letters, phrases, code, or whatever else you want to find, and the app does the search; often almost instantly, thanks to macOS’s Unix roots, and you get a list of options to replace.
String Replacer can find and replace strings of text or numbers or code in text, HTML, csv, or other files or documents that can be opened as a text file. The app doesn’t care where the files are located, including nested folders.
Back in the day such search and replace options were fraught with problems, inaccuracies, mistakes, and everything and anything else that could go wrong in a command line interface which required perfect typing skills. String Replacer absolves us of those issues with simple drag and drop. Grab the files you want to search, drop, and the search begins. Sweet, right?
String Replacer works in Instant Processing mode for fast results, but also Batch Mode for an almost unlimited number of file searches. The report windows simply displays where all the search results are located. The app resides on the Mac App Store but there’s a trial version from the developer. Try it. It’s fun. And much easier than using that nasty old Terminal.app I grew up with back in the last century.