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HostsEditor: Quickly Toggle Mapped Domains On/Off In Windows Hosts

Windows Hosts file is used to map domain names with their IP addresses to instantly access the most frequently visited websites, network locations and also to block potentially harmful remote locations. Hosts file works just like your ISP provided DNS server. The only difference is that Hosts file lets you create list of domain names and make amendments to mapped locations. The hosts file can be easily edited using any text editor but Windows doesn’t provide any tool to manage the mapped domain names. For instance, it requires you to manually enter the domains, modify the IPs, etc. Moreover, users often find it hard to quickly toggle mapped locations On or Off. HostsEditor is an application to add new nodes to hosts file without having to manually edit them.

When launched, it reads your current hosts file and insert toggles with edit option to instantly turn mapped locations on/off and to edit both domain name and IP, respectively. On the toolbar, you will find search bar with Find Next option to quickly jump to next searched keyword in hosts file. The Refresh button can be used to withdraw changes and load the current hosts file.

hosts file editor

You can add a new host, edit the selected one, and replace the previously used IP or host name with selected value from right-click context menu.

hosts edit 2

When you add a new host, it presents an option to enable/disable the domain mapping. Click Add to enter the IP Address, Domain Name, Comment (optional), and then check/uncheck Enable host box. You can also add a copy of specified domain name with ‘www’ to hosts file.

domain names 3

HostsEditor is an open source application that works on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.

Download HostsEditor


  1. Seems sort of pointless in that I can as easily use notepad same as I’ve always done by just clicking a shortcut to the hosts file. Maybe it saves a “little” time if you have a lot of entries to add at once, just by saving a couple seconds having to copy and past to a new line.

  2. The hands-down BEST hosts file manager is Abelhadigital’s “HostsMan.” Believe me when I tell you that I’ve tested every single hosts file manager/editor ever created, and the completely free(ware) HostsMan has no rival.

    HostsEditor is perfectly fine — good, in fact — for simply editing the hosts file. However, what HostsEditor does is but a tiny part of what HostsMan does (in other words, HostsMan also has a HostsEditor-like editor in it… but that’s not the half of it.)

    HostsMan downloads and keeps up-to-date the most popular pre-configured, freeware hosts files from such as MVPS Hosts, hpHost, Peter Lowe’s AdServers List, and just about any other similar files out there which can easily be added to the update list.

    But it gets better: HostsMan comes with a little mini web server that sits in the System Tray (or, as Microsoft now wants us to call it: The Notification Area) and intercepts all attempts by the computer to access whatever web sites are listed in the hosts file, and serves-up either a canned or configuration error message, or, better yet, a little 1-pixel transparent .GIF file so that places where ads would normally go on a web page (but which ads are blocked by the hosts file), as well as any full web site pages also so blocked, will appear as a big blank white space instead of the default (and ugly looking) browser error message which normally appears when a given web page can’t be accessed.

    HostsMan also includes other tools such as flushing the DNS cache, resolving hosts names, and even optimizing the hosts file so that if it’s exceptionally large, it’ll still be quickly responsive. Additionally, when it downloads updates from the various pre-configured hosts file providers, it will merge them in with your existing hosts file, and remove duplicates, thereby keeping the hosts file as lean and mean as possible. The merge capability also ensures that any manual entries which the user has made will remain intact (rather than being overwritten by updated pre-configured hosts files).

    One can easily add something to the hosts file, or remove something from it. When something is added, it will allow you to specify with or without “www.” in front of it with a simple checkbox rather than having to type-in both versions…

    …and there are many other features. HostsMan doesn’t actually use the native Windows hosts file. It backs that up and uses its own; and if disabled, it restores the native hosts file, as if HostsMan had never been there. Speaking of hosts file backups, it can make all kinds of those, two, for whatever reason they’re desired.

    This quite nice, actually, HostsEditor is absolutely fine if all one wants to do is use the Windows native hosts file in the manner in which Microsoft originally intended. As a tool to quickly get at the otherwise kinda’-hard-to-figure-out-where-it-is (and how to edit it) hosts file, and manage it deftly, HostsEditor is a fine tool, indeed.

    But HostsMan takes it one step further by imposing a whole raft of cool features and capabilities, thereby making the hosts file really useful, functional, and easy to manage. I could not more strongly recommend it.

    To be clear, though: If one just wants to use the hosts file natively, with none of HostsMan’s fancy-dancy features, then there’s probably nothing better than the HostsEditor tool.

    Gregg DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

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