Comparing files is one of the most important and regular activities in any project. You compare one version with another version to understand the difference between those before moving the code files to a higher instance. Sometimes you compare the data files also.
VSS, Clear case and other configuration tools provide this functionality. But, I like using Notepad++ to compare files because it is easy, fast, and free.
Notepad++ Compare Plugin
Compare is a plugin for Notepad++ text editor that helps to compare two text files side by side to see the difference. This is a very useful diff plugin to show a difference between 2 files side by side, diff against Git, SVN and last save.
- Easy, fast, and free
- Side-by-side visual differencing
- The navigation bar shows a map of compared files
- Easy navigation between differences
- Comparison against SVN database
Download Compare Plugin
Download the Plugin source code from the official Compare plugin project from Github and use Visual Studio to create the respective ComparePlugin.dll file. This version has some stability issues, so another Author fixed it.
That version is present under GitHub compare plugin repository. It has the zip files for both Notepad++ 64 bit and 32-bit versions along with source code.
- Source code(zip)
- Source code(tar.gz)
Install Compare Plugin in Notepad++
There is no need to download compare plugin if you use the plugin manager/Admin to install it. If there is no plugin manager or you face any issue, then you need to be download and install manually. Read the below install section for further details.
There are two methods to install this Plugin.
Install using Plugin Manager/Admin
This is easy to use method and good for the new user. This method uses the Plugin Manager to Install the plugin. The plugin manager provides an easy method to install/update/remove plugins.
- Open Notepad++
- Navigate to Plugins-> Plugin Manager-> Show Plugin Manager
- Search Compare Plugin in Available Tab.
- Select and click to install Compare Plugin
- Restart Notepad++
Install Compare Plugin Manually in Notepad++
In some cases, Plugin installation may fail while using the Plugin Manager or there may not have plugin manager as it was removed, then use the manual method of installation.
One of the advantages of the Manual Method is you get the up-to-date plugin, as the plugin manager/admin repository may have an older version.
- Close Notepad++.
- Download ComparePlugin_v2.0.0_X64.zip or ComparePlugin_v2.0.0_x86.zip.
- Extract the file.
- Copy ComparePlugin folder and ComparePlugin.dll to Notepad++/Plugins installation folder
- Start Notepad++
Compare Plugin will be visible under the Plugins menu.
Navigate to Plugins->Compare. It shows a popup with all the commands and options available. This list down all the Keyword shortcuts as well.
Let’s see some minimum settings available for it
Color Settings – This option allows you to set color coding for Added Line, Deleted Line, Moved Line, Changed Line, Change Highlight. You can select whatever color you want by click the button.
How to Compare two text files using Notepad++ compare plugin
The plugin is installed, now let’s see how to use the compare plugin to compare 2 text files. We are going to see a normal text file.
Start Notepad++. Open the files in notepad++ which you want to compare. Navigate to Plugins->Compare menu and click Compare to compare the files. Within seconds, it shows difference/comparison side by side as shown below. The difference is clearly highlighted with a marker and different colors.
You can use the nd down arrow to check the difference.
This plugin adds a small toolbar to notepad++ using which you can easily control different options for this plugin explained below.
1 – Set as First to Compare
2 – Compare – Click to Compare open files
3 – Clear Active Compare – Close the compare window
4 – First – First difference
5 – previous – Previous Difference
6 – Next – Next Different
7 – Last – Last Difference
8 – Navigation Bar – Show/Hide Navigation Bar
Compare plugin is one of the best add-ons you should have in Notepad++. It is fast, accurate, and quickly compare text files.
So go ahead and install the plugin now.
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