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How to compare text on Windows 10

Oversight when reading text is common enough; that’s how you get typos. When comparing text, this oversight tends to make it much harder to spot differences which is why there are hoards of apps out there that let you compare text. These apps may be basic and limited to plain text, or they may be advanced and be able to read and compare lines of code. WinMerge is a free, open-source app that sits somewhere in-between these two types. It can compare both files and folders for differences, merge them, and it works fairly well with code. On top of that, it also supports plugins which means its basic functionality can be extended.

Compare text on Windows 10

Download and install WinMerge. The app is pretty capable so, depending on how you will use it, you can opt to add it as an option to the context menu, and also to your system path.

Once installed, open the app and click the copy button at the top, or go to File>New. This will create two side-by-side panes that you can paste text into.

Go ahead and paste the text and then tap Ctrl+D to compare the differences. The difference will be highlighted in a different color though it’s a bit hard to see. By default, WinMerge offers you two panes for comparison however, you can also open three panes and compare text between all three. The option is under the File menu.

WinMerge can also be used to compare folder content. To compare two, or three folders, go to File>Open. Click the browse button under ‘1st File or Folder’ and select the folder you want to compare. Repeat this with the browse button under ‘2nd File or Folder’ and once you’ve added both folders, click Compare.

WinMerge will highlight the files that are present in one folder but absent in the other.

If you get down to exploring the app, you will find that it has lots of useful features. The name, WinMerge points to one other feature you might find useful; merging. It can merge text as well as folders allowing you to select which differences to keep, and which ones to discard. The app is light-weight which makes it all the better to use.

If you’re not looking to install an app to compare text, and want something far simpler, there are online apps that can do the job as well. DiffChecker is a pretty good option.

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