Comparing two different versions of a file manually, in a text editor, is a tedious task. This is where open source and free tools like WinMergehelps.WinMerge is a specialized “Compare and Merge Tool” for Windows.It compares files by using lines of content, as its basic unit of difference.WinMerge sometimes treat an entire block of lines as a single difference, instead of comparing one line at a time, thereby making detection of multiple-line differences easy.
How To Compare Two Files Using WinMerge?
- Start winMerge by double-clicking WinMerge desktop shortcut icon or via Start –> All Programs –> WinMerge
- In the WinMerge window, select the files you want to compare. In the “Select Files and Folders” dialog, specify one file as the Left file and the other file as the Right file, and click OK. The File Compare window displays the two files on the left and right pane of the software
- The message in the status bar at the bottom of the WinMerge window specifies the number of differences that were detected
- Identical lines are unmarked and have white backgrounds
- WinMerge inserts one or more gray blank lines in one version of the file when the other version has more lines. These empty gray lines do not represent blank lines in the source file; but they are only placeholders in the display. The purpose of placeholder lines are to keep the left and right versions of differences vertically aligned and thereby making it easier to compare differences in the files
- Press Alt+Enter or Click Current Difference button. If this button is not enabled (for example, if your cursor is in a different line), press Alt+Home or click First Difference button instead.When a difference is selected, the two versions are loaded in the Diff pane. The Diff pane confirms which lines are included in a difference and lets you examine them in isolation from the rest of the file.
- Click Next Difference in the toolbar to jump to the next line (or block of lines) that are different in the two files
- Do this to review all the differences between the two files, until you reach the end of the files.Note that both panes in the File Compare window always display the same total number of lines
Wasn’t that an easy way to compare two files in Windows.Free download WinMerge from here and make your life easier in comparing two files. Currently, the WinMerge installer works only in 32-bit Windows. There is no separate version available for 64-bit Windows. However, 64-bit Windows can run the installer and WinMerge as 32-bit applications and for the shell Integration, the installer includes the 64-bit version of the extension.