Category Archives: Toolbox

Compare two files on Windows for free with WinMerge

So you want to compare file differences on a Windows computer, and don’t have anything installed yet? Let me introduce you to WinMerge, a sweet, free application that does just that. It will compare files, let you edit those files, and merge the two. Trust me, it beats the pants off of Windiff.

I did a quick run through of the easy install here if you’re curious to see it.

Here’s a brief rundown of what it can do.

Explorer integration

By default, WinMerge includes explorer integration, which I think is great. No looking for icons, just find the file you want to work on, right click, and choose “WinMerge”.

If you select one file, right click and choose “WinMerge” from the menu, it will open up a dialog to find out what you want to compare it to. After all, it’s not much use comparing a file with nothing. Here’s a shot of WinMerge on the right click context menu.

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And a shot of the dialog if you only selected one. This is pretty handy if the files are in separate locations.

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What if I select two files?

If there are two files selected, right click, and choose WinMerge from the menu, then WinMerge will open up with a side by side comparison.

What if the files are the same?

The example files I used were identical, and when I opened them using this method, I received this handy message:

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How does it look when comparing files?

I made a change to my example files, and it automatically highlights the changed line, with the change in a different color (click on image to see a full sized version.

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If there’s a whole slew of changes, then it highlights them as expected, with a handy location pane that shows the length of the file and where changes are located. (click on the image to see the full sized version.

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Has some nice navigation options, as well as merge options. You can copy individual lines, or entire files, from left to right, or vice versa. You can also edit either or both files from the windows.

If you exit before a save, you’re prompted to save either, both, or neither file.

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I like it, it’s free, straightforward, and it just plain works. Good job guys!