July 2020 by Tobias Günther

Diff Tools on Windows

Working on the Mac? Check out our post about Diff Tools on macOS!

Staying up-to-date in a software, writing, or design project is hard - especially when multiple people are working on it. Without the right tools, you won't be able to understand the changes that move the project forward.

This is where a diff tool comes in handy. It makes changes visible and helps you understand them. In this article, we've compiled a short list that helps you get an overview of the best diff tools on Windows.

Meld

Being free and open source, Meld is a very popular tool on Windows (it's also available for Linux). It supports three-way comparing and merging and lets you edit files directly from the comparison view. Apart from diffing files, Meld also supports comparison of folders.

Beyond Compare

The Beyond Compare team makes a fine diff tool for Windows (as well as macOS and Linux, by the way). It goes well beyond (pun intended) diffing simple text and also allows comparing PDF, Excel and image files. The "Pro" version also includes a solid three-way merge.

Araxis Merge

Just like Beyond Compare, Araxis Merge supports more than just text and image files. It also lets you compare office documents (like MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint, or ODF). It comes in standard and professional editions, and for people working on both Windows and macOS, it's good to know that a single license is valid for both platforms.

KDiff3

Another free and open source tool answers to the name of KDiff3. The project hasn't seen many updates in recent years (though you may be able to find more recent releases through this page), but it remains a solid diff and merge tool that should satisfy basic needs.

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DeltaWalker

Much like Araxis, the DeltaWalker diff tool also lets you compare office files. However, it goes one step further by letting you compare file archives like ZIP, JAR, and TAR files. If you're regularly performing comparisons on a folder basis, it's good to know that DeltaWalker shines with great performance in this area. DeltaWalker supports Windows, macOS and Linux.

P4Merge

Perforce, the company best known for its enterprise version control platform, also offers a solid diff tool: P4Merge is free of charge and comes with a basic feature set that makes it an interesting option on Windows, macOS and Linux.

Code Compare

Besides offering all the standard diff and merge capabilities, Code Compare comes with some special features like syntax highlighting, semantic code comparison and a VisualStudio integration.
The basic version can be used free of charge, while the Professional Edition delivers the full feature set.

WinMerge

WinMerge is an open-source diff tool with some nice features like folder and image comparison, and three-way file comparison.

Guiffy

Guiffy is a full-featured tool with syntax highlighting, three-way comparisons and merges, and multiple comparison algorithms. It comes in pro and expert versions, and supports Windows, macOS and Linux.


Integrations

Another aspect to watch out for is integrations: before choosing your favorite tool, you should make sure that it plays nicely with the rest of your tool chain. I can already confirm that most of the mentioned tools work seamlessly with Tower, our own Git client.

If you don't need the power of a dedicated Diff tool application, the integrated diff views in Tower might even be sufficient for you:

See for yourself and try it 30 days for free.


Conclusion

Diff & merge apps are amongst the most underestimated tools. But a good one can be really helpful in a lot of situations. Try one of the above and see for yourself!

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