At one time or another I am sure you have come across two text files that you were trying to compare the differences with. It happens to me all the time with programming because a file will get updated and it is nearly impossible to spot small differences when you have 1000′s of lines of code to sift through. If you haven’t had a need to look for a solution yourself then these programs may be something you’ll want to bookmark, because the day will come when you’ll need them.
ExamDiff is the file comparison tool that I have been using lately. The list of features is pretty long and you will find that it is fully customizable. One of my favorite options is the ability to choose what color the changes are highlighted with so that they really stand out. ExamDiff also makes it easy to find the differences by using the “Find Next Change” button which will take you directly to the next change it finds. That will save a lot of scrolling when you have a 5000 line file! They also offer ExamDiff Pro which has a few really great features that I wish were in the free version. The most useful thing in the professional version is the ability to directly edit the files within the comparison screen. Yeah, I know, it is kinda lame that you can’t do that in the free version but I normally just open Notepad++ and use the line numbers as a reference to quickly locate the text I am looking for. I recently tried looking for a plug-in that works in Notepad++ to do the comparison but I came up empty handed. All was not lost in my quest because that is when I stumbled upon WinMerge. This is also free software like ExamDiff but they offer several features that ExamDiff Pro makes you pay for. The big one is, of course, being able to edit the files directly in the file comparison window. Heck, they don’t stop you at comparing files either because you can have WinMerge compare two directories with a bunch of folders and it will show you the differences in an easy-to-read format. I haven’t had a need to compare any files since I found WinMerge so I don’t know how it will handle in a real situation that I throw at it. However, when I was just toying around with it I find it great to use. If you know of any good (and hopefully free) file comparison utilities then let us know…especially if you know of a Notepad++ plug-in!