Using a Text Editor with GEDCOM Files

It may be that you have an item, or multiple entries, that you want removed. It would be a pain to edit each entry. In this case, if you feel confident, use a plain text editor.

For example, this is part of the census entry for Gustav Holst in the 1901 Census on Ancestry:

Name: Gustavus T Von Holst
Age: 26
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1875
Relation: Visitor
Gender: Male
Where born: Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
Civil Parish: St John and St Margaret
Ecclesiastical parish: St John
County/Island: London
Country: England
Street address:
Condition as to marriage:

Should you for instance want to replace “Street address:” in the editor the following should be fine.Edit


Only do this if you are confident regarding editing.

  1. Save and backup your GEDCOM file.
  2. Open the GEDCOM file in the plain text editor.
  3. Remove all instances of the redundant data using the editors commands – hopefully there will be a ‘replace all’ option.
  4. Save GEDCOM file and Open in FH. You may need to validate the data.


A few things to beware of replacing single words or short phrases using a text editor may well replace items you were not expecting, avoid using the global search replace without prompting.

Last update: 11 Aug 2020