Updated: 05/01/2023 by Computer Hope

Replace may refer to any of the following:

1. Alternatively called Search and Replace, Find and Replace or Replace is finding text and replacing it with an alternative text. Many programs support the ability to find or search and replace text in a document from the Edit file menu. The picture below is an example of a Find and Replace dialog box in Microsoft Word.

Find and Replace dialog box in Microsoft Word.

How to find and replace words

The common keyboard shortcut to Find and Replace text in a word processor, spreadsheet, and text editor is Ctrl+H. If the program does not support this keyboard shortcut, check the Edit file menu for a find and replace option.


Microsoft Excel users can also press the Shift+F5 shortcut key to open the find and replace window.

Below is an example of a Find and Replace for 'fox' that is replaced with 'cat'. If you click the Replace All button, all instances of the word 'fox' are replaced. If you don't want to replace all instances of a word, click the Find Next button until you find a word you want to replace, and click the Replace button.

Before replace all

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

After replace all

The quick brown cat jumped over the lazy dog.

How to search and delete text

Instead of replacing text with other text, you can also leave the Replace with field blank to delete the text you want to delete.

2. Replace refers to overwriting text or inserting text over existing text. For example, in Microsoft Excel, to replace the existing text in a cell, click the cell where you want to replace text. Once the cell is selected, start typing the new word or sentence.

3. Replace also refers to the overwrite typing setting on a keyboard. To overwrite text, press Insert. Overwrite mode is enabled when you start typing, and it replaces existing characters as you type new ones. You might have to press Insert twice to enable this.

4. Replace refers to the Linux replace command.

5. In MS-DOS, the replace command allows users to replace files in one directory with files from another directory. Below is an example of using the replace command.

C:\>replace "C:\temp\*.txt" C:\test

In this example, each text file in the C:\test directory is replaced by a text file having the same file name from the C:\temp directory.

6. In general, and when used as a verb, replace describes substituting one thing for another thing. For example, you may replace an older slow computer with a new computer.

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