How to Use WinDiff to Compare Files

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WinDiff is a command line utility that compares two files, but the explanations around how it works can be difficult. This article will help you understand what WinDiff does and how to use it for comparing your data files.

The “winmerge” is a tool that allows users to compare two files and find the differences between them. The tool also allows for merging files.

How to Use WinDiff to Compare Files

Do you want to compare two files or source code? Is looking through the data like looking for a needle in a haystack? The Microsoft WinDiff software, despite its antiquity, still performs well when comparing files and directories. The program has enough features to handle any file comparison task quickly.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to compare files and directories using the WinDiff software. Learn how to compare marked files, export results to a text file, and change the comparisons that arise.

Prerequisites

Because the WinDiff program isn’t included with Windows, you’ll need to download or install it before you can use it. All you need is a current version of Windows for this. Windows 10 is used in this article.

Using the Microsoft SDK to install WinDiff

Because WinDiff is not included by default in Windows, you must first download it to get started. WinDiff may be found in an earlier version of the Microsoft SDK for Windows 7 and.NET Framework 4 download.

There are two unauthorized mirrors that provide only the windiff.exe executable without requiring the whole SDK to be downloaded and installed. Versions are available for download from both Grig Software and Archive.org.

1. First, go to the Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7 and.NET Framework 4 download page and select the Download option.

2. Run the winsdk web.exe executable once it has been downloaded. On Windows 10, you may get the following warning, which you may ignore by clicking OK.

I'm scrolling through the warning message.I’m scrolling through the warning message.

3. Continue to the Installation Options page by clicking through all of the defaults.

4. Uncheck all things under the Windows Native Code Development section except Tools since the Windows SDK includes a lot more than simply WinDiff.

Under the Windows Native Code Development area, choose just Tools.Under the Windows Native Code Development area, choose just Tools.

5. To begin the installation, click Next, and then Finish to finish it.

Using the WinDiff application to compare two files

Now that you’ve downloaded or installed the WinDiff program, it’s time to figure how how to browse and utilize it. Despite the fact that WinDiff has a simple interface, there is more to it than meets the eye.

1. Open WinDiff from either C:Program Files or C:ProgramData. If you got it from the Windows SDK or the unauthorized mirror’s download address, it’s Microsoft SDKsWindowsv7.1Binwindiff.exe.

The WinDiff startup screen.The WinDiff startup screen.

2. From the File menu, choose Compare Files.

Comparing files by opening them.Comparing files by opening them.

3. Select the first file to compare; typically, these are source code files, but text is utilized here.

Choosing the first file to compare is the first step.Choosing the first file to compare is the first step.

4. Next, choose the second file to compare.

Selecting a second file for comparison Selecting a second file for comparison

After the files have been imported, you will get an overview of the files that may be compared.

5. To compare, double-click the item or use the Expand option. After that, you’ll get a screen that lays out the differences and similarities between the two files.

A list of the files that were selected for comparison. A list of the files that were selected for comparison.

Changing lines inside files and demonstrating it.Changing lines inside files and demonstrating it.

A mini-map view on the left-hand side illustrates the main changes across the files, allowing you to rapidly browse to a specific portion of the file.

The distinctions on various color highlighted lines may be seen on the right-hand side. In the first file, the color yellow is used to emphasize differences, whereas in the second file, the color red is utilized.

Changing Files That Have Been Compared

You may need to reconcile the discrepancies between the two files now that you’ve compared them to detect differences. You may change the first file, the second file, or a composite of the two files to do this. Read on to discover how to edit files with changes using WinDiff, despite the fact that it is not a merging tool.

1. To begin, right-click on the line you want to change. It’s worth noting that identical lines in different files will have the same line number, as seen below.

Lines in a comparison file may be changed.Lines in a comparison file may be changed.

2. To update a highlighted modification in this example, pick to edit the Left File first, which will open in Notepad by default. The file has been updated to include an identical second line as seen below.

Changing a file that has been compared in WinDiff.Changing a file that has been compared in WinDiff.

3. In WinDiff, right-click on the first changed line and choose Rescan to refresh the scanned files and check for any changes.

In WinDiff, rescan for changes. In WinDiff, rescan for changes.

The updated line is no longer visible in the comparison, as seen below.

Demonstrating how to use the newly modified files.Demonstrating how to use the newly modified files.

The option to offer a remark on a modification is a helpful feature of WinDiff. This remark may be saved as a text file later. If you exit WinDiff without exporting the remark, it will be lost.

1. To add a remark, first click on the change you want to comment on, then go to the Edit menu and choose Insert Comment.

Adding a remark to a line that has been altered.Adding a remark to a line that has been altered.

2. Type your remark and then hit OK.

I'm going to make a remark.I’m going to make a remark.

3. In-between the modified lines, you’ll see a new remark in green.

Using the added comment as an example.Using the added comment as an example.

Using WinDiff to Compare Folders

You may discover that you need to compare a complete folder now that you’ve compared files in WinDiff. WinDiff allows you to compare two separate folders in the same way that it compares files. To compare two separate directories, follow the procedures below.

How to Compare Directories with PowerShell is a related topic.

1. Open WinDiff and choose File Compare Directories from the File menu. Put the locations of the two directories you want to compare in this box. You have the option of adding subdirectories as well.

The window for comparing directories is now open.The window for comparing directories is now open.

2. Double-click the file to expand and compare it further after you’ve seen the list of changes.

Within WinDiff, displaying the altered and identical files.Within WinDiff, displaying the altered and identical files.

3. Given that file1.txt is identical, you may choose to disregard this file. Marking a file and hiding it from view is possible with WinDiff. Mark the file you want to hide with a right-click.

Making a note in a file.Making a note in a file.

4. The line will become yellow after it has been marked. Select Hide Marked Files from the Mark menu.

Keeping files that have been designated hidden.Keeping files that have been designated hidden.

5. This will only leave the files you choose to concentrate on, as seen below.

Showing the result of Keeping files that have been designated hidden.Showing the result of Keeping files that have been designated hidden.

Using RegEx to Mark Files

If you have a large number of files to ignore and manually marking them all would be too time consuming, you may use a regular expression instead.

1. To begin, go to the Mark menu and choose Mark Pattern, as shown below.

Creating a file pattern.Creating a file pattern.

2. Filter out the.ps1 files using a regular expression. The regular expression in the example below is [ps1]$.

Adding a regular expression to the equation.Adding a regular expression to the equation.

3. Finally, under the Mark menu, choose Hide Marked Files.

Keeping files that have been designated hidden.Keeping files that have been designated hidden.

WinDiff Customization

Although WinDiff’s default settings are fine, there are situations when you’ll want to tweak it to better suit your needs. Continue reading to find out what may be altered!

Making Changes to the WinDiff File Editor

You’ve been modifying files in Notepad throughout this tutorial. Visual Studio Code is a contemporary editing program that may be used to compare files. So, how would you instruct WinDiff to start editing in this program instead?

1. To begin, go to the Edit menu and choose Set Editor.

In WinDiff, change the editor.In WinDiff, change the editor.

2. In the set editor question, type “C:UsersuserAppDataLocalProgramsMicrosoft VS CodeCode.exe” percent p and click OK.

If you’re using a per-user installation of Visual Studio Code, be sure you change “user” with your username. Use that location instead if VS Code is installed for all users.

To run the editor, type in the command.To run the editor, type in the command.

3. Finally, right-click on a line with highlighted differences and choose Edit Composite File from the context menu to open the file in Visual Studio Code.

Opening a combined file with Visual Studio Code is shown.Opening a combined file with Visual Studio Code is shown.

WinDiff does not seem to transfer a single file, left or right, to an external editor other than notepad. Although your mileage may vary, composite files do function.

Changing the Size of the Default Tab Comparison

Instead of the more common 2 or 4 spaces, WinDiff’s default tab size is set to the equivalent of 8 spaces. The file comparisons may not be accurate due to the higher size. As a result, you’ll want to change this value and set it appropriately.

To do so, go to the Editor menu and choose Set Tab Width from the drop-down menu. After that, change the tab width to the appropriate size and click OK.

In WinDiff, you may change the tab width.In WinDiff, you may change the tab width.

In WinDiff, you may change the tab width.In WinDiff, you may change the tab width.

Finally, you may export either a list of differences in a file or a list of comments in a file. Click the File menu and choose Save File List to export the file list. Choose the choices to edit and save the files to a place relative to the current compared files. To export the file list, click OK at the end.

Creating a file list of the files that have been compared.Creating a file list of the files that have been compared.

The Save File List dialog box appears.The Save File List dialog box appears.

Click the File menu again and choose Save Comments List to save the list of comments as a file. Click OK after entering the place where you want to store the comments list.

Exporting comments from a file that has been compared.Exporting comments from a file that has been compared.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to use WinDiff to compare files and folders, you’ll find that this little program comes in handy for quick file and folder comparisons. Of course, you may discover that this tool does not meet all of your requirements, in which case there are other alternatives, such as WinMerge.

Nonetheless, the older WinDiff program remains a staple in many an IT professional’s toolkit; learn how to compare data using WinDiff now!

The “compare files windows 10” is a command-line tool that allows users to compare two sets of files. The user can specify the files by name or location. WinDiff also shows what changes were made, and lets you save the differences as a new file.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I compare files in Windiff?

A: To compare files in Windiff, you need to use the Compare option.

How do I compare two sets of files?

A: The best way to compare two sets of files is by using the diff command. If you have Windows, type cmd into Cortana or a similar search engine and open up a Command prompt window with administrative privileges (right-click > Run as administrator). Once in the Command Prompt, use the following commands:
C:\>cd C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\Beat Saber ps4
C:\Program Files\Steam\\steamapps\\common\Beat Saber PSVR>diff -r _________ / _______

Is there a way to compare files in two folders?

A: No, the files in the two folders cannot be compared.

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