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Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Detailed Guide]

I fell in love with notepad++ simply because I was amazed at how colorful a notepad could be, especially after being used to Microsofts’ standard notepad. But there is much more to this tool than color. And I will be going through the A to Z on how to compare files in notepad++

As is the case so often with programmers or writers, there are probably several versions of the documents we use. One merit to having several versions of your documents is that it gives room for you to merge differences and monitor changes between them after comparing.

Furthermore, copying files may occasionally result in data loss, necessitating comparisons to verify nothing has been damaged.

With edit source code editors, Microsoft Office applications, and even across two file directories, comparing files is possible. In the Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems, you can usually compare files in several ways.

I will be showing you how to compare files and would be starting with my favoring notepad++

How To Compare Files In NotePad++

If you are one of those hard-core coders, those who spend hours upon hours daily behind the computer, chances are that you are already used to Notepad++. If you are not used to it, what you must know is that it’s a text and source code editor that runs on the Windows platform.

It’s completely free software that doesn’t even take up a lot of space. Many coders utilize Notepad++ to compare two files, although it doesn’t come with this functionality by default.

All you have to do now is install the “Compare” plugin. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to compare files in Notepad++:

Well, as you may have guessed you would need to first download and install a copy of Notepad++ on your Windows PC. Next, start up the Notepad++ application and click on the plugins menu at the top (the main toolbar).

compare files in notepad++

Doing this brings out a list of options in a dropdown menu, select “Plugins Admin“.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

What you should be looking out for from the plugin list is the “compare” option. Click on the checkbox. Then click on install. Doing this will prompt you that an installation will be started Notepad++ will automatically be restarted.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

Next, you have to open two files that you which to compare on Notepad++. Go once more to the plugin option, and just as you have done previously, click on the Plugin Admin option that shows in the dropdown list, then check the compare option.

Alternatively, after opening the two files you want to compare, click the Plugin option on the main toolbar and navigate Compare > Compare.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

Any differences found in the two files will be instantly visible in Notepad++.

In Notepad++, every line of code that is added, deleted, or modified in any manner is highlighted. These distinctions will be color-coded so that users can keep track of them more easily.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

Now you pretty much know how to compare files in notepad++. Let us jump into some other cool software and see how we could achieve the same result using them.

Guide to Comparing Files using Visual Studio Code

Now you know how to compare files in notepad++ let me introduce you to the world of Visual Studio Code.

It may be used to edit, compile, and debug code in a variety of programming languages. However, it may also be used to compare two files and find discrepancies. The following is how it works:

So just like I said when we used Notepad++, the first step also would be to download the Visual Studio Code application. I am using a windows version, but it should be pretty much the same interface for other operating systems.

Also again like we did previously, open up the two files that you want to compare. Next from the options showing the two files on the left pane, select the two files and right-click to bring out a list of options.

From these options, select “Compare selected“.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

This is just the first way to compare using this tool. Here is an alternative way for comparing using Visual Studio Code.

You can click on one file at a time, rather than select both together. In this case, after right-clicking on the first file, select the “Select for Compare” option.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

Then proceed to click on the second file, but in this case, select the “Compare with Selected” option.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

Now you have two quick and simple options you could use on your Visual Studio Code.

Guide on Comparing Files in Two Folder

We have so far learned how to compare files in Notepad++ and in Visual Studio Code, now let us discuss comparing files in two folders.

You may need to compare the contents of two directories and even subfolders, not simply two files, for certain tasks. Manually doing so would be very time-consuming and laborious.

There are, fortunately, shortcuts available. If you’re a Windows user, the WinMerge utility program is probably your best bet. This is a completely safe and free program that you may use as follows:

So just like I said when we used Notepad++, the first step also would be to download the Winmerge application. It is free and open-source.

Use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + O when the installation is complete. The folder comparison box will open as a result of this.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

To choose the first folder, click “Browse,” and then repeat the process for the second folder.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

Be sure that both folders have the “Read-only” option checked.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

Next click on the Compare button at the bottom right corner of the application.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

The process of comparing begins right away. If the folder sizes aren’t too large you would not need a long waiting period. If the directories you’re comparing are big, though, you’ll need to be patient.

WinMerge will show files that are unique in white and files that are not comparable in yellow. Overlapping files will be labeled in grey. By right-clicking on the files, you can see the differences.

The Terminal may be used to compare two directories on a Mac. Developers use it as a command-line utility tool to perform fast and simple modifications to the operating system.

Guide on Comparing 2 Word Files

If you write on a regular basis, comparing past and present Word document versions of text files may be very useful.

You may need to combine two papers together on occasion, but first check for any overlap or redundant content.

Fortunately, Word, being a Microsoft word processor, has a function that allows you to compare two different versions of a document.

To compare two editions of a document in Word, follow these steps:

In Word, open any edition of the doc and go to the “Compare” ribbon under the “Review” tab.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

This reveals a few options in a drop-down menu. Select the Compare option.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

There will be a new window open. Click “OK” after uploading both versions of the document.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

If any alterations were recorded in the updated document, the modifications will be shown in the panel on the left side.

The original file is layered on top of the updated one on the right side. They’ll move in lockstep as you scroll the text, allowing you to compare and contrast them.

You may also use the “Combine” option from the “Compare” ribbon. It enables users to merge several writers’ updated Word documents.

Guide on Comparing Two Excel Files

When working with a small dataset, analyzing Excel files may be useful. You may use the built-in comparison tool to manually examine the files.

Consider the following scenario: you have two Excel files recording inventories from two separate months that you need to compare. Here’s how to make a handy summary for easy comparison:

Open both files you wish to compare in Excel. Take care to pick the sheet that will be compared in each file. In the main toolbar, choose the “View” tab. Then under the Windows section choose the option to “View Side by Side“.

Compare Files in Notepad++ [Step-By-Step Guide]

The workbook will be automatically arranged horizontally in Excel, and both files will be displayed. You may now manually compare and modify these files.

Alternatively, you may use a third-party internet comparison tool. If you don’t want to spend time and need a fast comparison report, use the XL Comparator tool.

It’s a free tool that can handle Excel files not more than 5MB. All you have to do is upload the 2 files and tell the Comparator to look for data that is similar or different. The findings are available for download, and you may compare the marked similarities and discrepancies.

While this technique is useful and quick, it’s definitely not the ideal choice if you’re working with sensitive information.

How to Compare Files in Linux and Windows 10

In Linux

You may compare files in a variety of ways, including using the Visual Studio Code editor. The “diff” command, on the other hand, is one of the most common methods to compare text and code.

Most Linux systems come pre-installed with this command-line utility, which is simple to use. This is how the command line syntax looks:

“diff [options] First_File1 Second_File”

In Windows

To compare two files, Windows users may utilize the integrated command-line utility included with the operating system. It’s a straightforward procedure if you know what you’re doing.

To compare them, make sure they’re in the same directory and try these steps:

Go to “Start” and type “Command Prompt.” Then choose “Run as administrator” from the drop-down menu.

Press “Enter” after copying and pasting the command “cd PATHTOFILES”
Replace the location of the files in the command, and Now type “fc name1.txt name2.txt” into the command prompt and click “Enter.”

Note, instead of “name1” and “name2,” be sure you enter the proper file name.

Finally, you may like to explore our video on Notepad++ tips and tricks that are too useful.

Final Thoughts

Even if you don’t program or publish every day, you may sometimes have to compare files. The great news is that there are many excellent tools available to assist you in this endeavor. Text and code editors like Visual Studio Code and Notepad++ are great for getting things done quickly.

Now you can compare files in notepad++, and do much more. What is your favorite method for comparing two files? Please share your thoughts in the comments area below.