What Is the Best File Comparison Tool

What is the best file comparison tool? If you are looking for a fast and efficient way to compare two sets of files, then a file comparison tool could be exactly what you’re looking for.

When it comes to choosing the best file comparison tool, there are a lot of choices out there. However, only a select few possess the qualities that set them above the rest. Here is a look at some attributes other tools tend to lack, as well as information on what you need in a file comparison utility.

Diffuse

Diffuse

Diffuse is a simple graphical tool for text comparisons. Use the line-matching feature to compare texts side by side and edit files immediately. In-built version control will help you save revisions after merging or editing them.

The comparing tool is a lifeline for code reviewers. QA teams will find it useful for syntax highlighting, easy navigation with keyboard shortcuts, and the support of Git, CVS, Darcs, and other repositories for tracking versions.

Pros

  • Side by side text comparison
  • Suitable for quick textual comparison before sending the final version to the editor
  • Easy to use & has a zero learning curve

Cons

  • Not really customizable
  • Lacks complexity in case you need the app to check text differences regularly
  • Needs downloading

Pricing: Free

Beyond Compare

Beyond Compare

Choosing the best file comparison software, you cannot pass by Beyond Compare – a truly one-of-a-kind comparison tool. Versatile and complex, Beyond Compare allows you to literally compare anything you want, from files of different types and sizes to folders and entire repositories like Dropbox or Amazon S3. And it works perfectly with large files.

Aside from highlighting the differences, you can also merge files, synchronize changes, and generate comparison reports for checks in this app. A 3-way merge is also possible!

Pros

  • Intelligent file comparison software to compare files, folders, and drives
  • Has no problem with large files
  • Ability to merge and edit changes, as well as produce reports based on comparison results
  • Intuitive folder sync

Cons

  • Limited navigation between compared items
  • Not so many formats supported

Pricing: $30 per user per month, but if you have more than 4 users, the price goes down.

Pics.io

Pics.io

Strictly speaking, Pics.io is a lot more than a mere instrument for file comparison. It’s a comprehensive app for cloud-based digital assets management (DAM). And it has all the related bells and whistles, such as collections, tagging, keywording, search, sharing, versioning, and many others.

One of the core functionalities of Pics.io is the Visual Diff tool. And it works ideally for comparing visuals: photos, all kinds of images, Sketch and other multi-page designs, PDFs, and video files. With Diff Tool, two similar visual files will be placed one over the other for better contrast, and you can move the slider sideways to compare them.

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Pros

  • Side by side comparison of visuals to see the subtlest changes such as brightness or saturation
  • Working with any formats you need, designer files included (Adobe XD, Sketch, or AI), plus videos and PDFs
  • Powerful version control in case revisions pile up over time
  • Commenting to discuss file changes with colleagues

Cons

  • A bit of a learning curve

Pricing: $18 per user per month, though there are also pricing plans suitable for team users.

AptDiff

Aptdiff File Compare

AptDiff is a freeware that’s now discontinued, but still available to download through some third-party websites. Despite being free, it’s an advanced and responsive file comparison tool for Windows. It lets you compare two files (text or binary) to check if any of them is a duplicate. It gets downloaded quickly and is pretty easy with no complications involved. From options to customize keyboard shortcuts, getting file backups, or personalizing the UI fonts and colors to supporting multiple languages, there’s a lot that it’s capable of.

Price: free

DiffMerge

Diffmerge

Those looking for a file comparison tool would find DiffMerge much helpful due to its powerful features. The application visually compares files and even merges them on major platforms like Windows, Mac, and Linux. Moreover, it graphically represents the modifications between the two files. Also, it features options like intra-line highlighting and complete support for editing. Similarly, it also shows the modifications (merging) between three files, graphically.

It enables the files to merge automatically whenever possible, and also allows complete control on the editing of the file generated. Furthermore, it compares the two folders side-by-side, while displaying which files are only present in a single file or in the other. It also shows the file pairs that are either similar or different.

Price: free

ExamDiff

Examdiff File Compare

It’s an easy to use file comparison tool, that allows you to compare to documents. Examdiff is a freeware that does not need you to mention both the filenames, but just entering the directory name for one of the files for comparison should be fine. Among its significant features are auto pick feature to remember matching files, automatic detection of file changes and notifying users to repeat the file comparison, quick selection of the two files to compare, drag and drop option to add one or two files in the program window, or easy editing of both the files.

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There are any more features offered by this tool which you can explore on your Windows platform.

Price: free

Diffchecker

diffchecker screenshot

As the name suggests, Diffchecker is an online tool to check the differences between two files. It lets you compare texts, PDFs, spreadsheets, and even images. Besides its online tool, Diffchecker has desktop apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Thanks to its clean UI and multiple views, you can view line-by-line differences between text files. For images, it has a slider to zoom in for viewing differences.

Diffchecker can compare PDFs too, as its OCR technology enables it to read scanned copies. Similarly, you can view the cell-by-cell differences when comparing two spreadsheets, either in XLS, XLSX, CSV, or other formats. Best of all, it can merge the two files together.

While the free plan will suffice for most, you can upgrade to the Pro plan to get advanced features and real-time diff reports for $8 per month. If you want to install the Diffchecker desktop app, it costs $12 per month. But the desktop version lets you compare entire folders as well.

DiffNow

DiffNow is an online diff finder tool for comparing different types of files. You can input text, upload various types of files, and enter URLs to compare them. Better still, you can upload complete folders as ZIP files for comparison.

DiffNow is quite customizable as you can change how the files are compared. For example, you can select whether to ignore line breaks, white spaces, and case differences. Similarly, you can change how the results are displayed. It can compare Python, HTML, C, C++, and JavaScript codes as well.

The free account gives you only 20 comparisons per month. You can upgrade to a Premium account for $3 per month to get unlimited comparisons.

 Copyleaks Text Compare

copyleaks text compare screenshot

Copyleaks is a plagiarism detector at its core, but has a tool for comparing text as well. Using Copyleaks Text Compare, you can either paste the text, upload a file, or enter the URL.

Perhaps the best thing about this tool is that you can compare more than two files together. The supported file types are HTML, TXT, PPT, Doc, PDF, etc. It supports multiple languages and gives you a comparison report to download.

Since it’s a plagiarism detector, the Copyleaks Text Compare tool focuses on similar content rather than the differences. It shows the identical text, paraphrased content, and minor changes. Therefore, if you’re looking for a free online plagiarism detector, this can serve as one.

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Meld

Meld

Free and open-source, Meld is a great comparison app to see the difference between two or three files and merge them. The compare software allows you to navigate between contrasts easily. As usual, the changes get marked with a different color. Also, use the regex text feature to ignore the differences you want to leave untouched.

This file comparison software will also come in handy to compare folders. Feel free to compare two (or even three!) media libraries to see differences file by file. Alter files on the fly, and once you notice that something’s missing, don’t hesitate to open the folder directly from Meld to fix things.

Pros

  • Comparing two or three files at once
  • Edit or merge files right in the file comparison app
  • Support for folder comparison
  • Basic file management when comparing directories

Cons

  • Needs download and installation
  • Clunky interface, and sometimes, the app is difficult to operate as Meld is designed for tech-savvy users
  • Available for Windows and Linux only

Pricing: Free

Araxis

Araxis

Araxis is a professional tool that was specifically designed for comparing various files. With the help of Araxis, you can instantly identify all the differences between the two documents. You can accept some of these changes, edit, and merge when it’s necessary. And what I personally find really cool is that you can synchronize and merge entire folder trees with all the files within.

Such versatile functionality makes Araxis a great tool for a broad range of professionals – software developers, quality control managers, legal and publishing professionals. In other words, it’s perfect for everybody who deals with text-based documents.

Pros

  • Ideal tool for text comparison: source code, web pages, XML, and all common office files such as Word, Excel, PDFs, and RTF
  • Editing and merging files on-site
  • Comparing as many as three files at a time with Araxis Pro

Cons

  • Not so good for comparing visual file formats – the app knows how to make a binary comparison between two images, but the results appear rather bulky and redundant
  • Requires installation on your desktop computer

Pricing: $119 as a one-time payment

Conclusion

File comparison tool is a free web utility that lets you compare and sync files from Windows or Mac computers. Unlike similar programs, it allows you to find the exact differences between two folders and automatically updates your files — for example, when you add new music files to your iPod.

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