How To Use WinMerge To Compare Files In Two Folders

Have you ever try to use WinMerge to compare files in two folders? While synchronizing directories or restoring data, it’s good to properly check that the copy you’ve made is quite identical to the real one. It is possible for errors to occur where data can’t copy perfectly, or some data can’t copy at all.

If this type of copy failure occurs in an important document. And you don’t check that, you are facing data loss issue. WinMerge is an essential tool that enables you to compare directory contents. You can also check if there are any missing files or if any back-up files are quite different from the real one. This article will help you in installing and using WinMerge to compare the files in two different folders.

Also, the good news is that you can install WinMerge for free from their original site here.

How To Install WinMerge:


Step 1:

All you need is to tap the green “Download Now!” button located in the top right corner to download or install it from SourceForge.

Step 2:

After the installer is downloaded successfully, double-tap it to initiate the installation wizard.

Step 3:

The installer’s first page is the license agreement, simply tap “Next” to agree and continue.

Step 4:

The other page enables you to configure which features you like to install. By default, all extensions are turned on and there’s no specific reason to disable them. So, all you need to do is to leave these options as they are.

Step 5:

If you like to install an additional language pack, you can then choose one or more of the given options in the language list under it.

Step 6:

After you’ve chosen the features you want, simply tap “Next” to continue.

Step 7:

The other page covers additional tasks. Here, there are checkboxes to turn on File Explorer context menu integration, which enables you to launch WinMerge from the right-tap menu File Explorer.

However, the remaining options include adding WinMerge to your device path or creating a desktop shortcut, which you can leave turned off.

Step 8:

Once you’ve chosen which features you want to turn on, tap “Next” to continue.

Step 9:

The last page just displays what options you’ve chosen, so double-mark them, then press “Install” to start the installation process.

Step 10:

When the installation has successfully completed, you’ll then view a message from the developers. Simply tap “Next” to avoid it.

Step 11:

Then tap “Finish” to close the installer and then launch WinMerge.

How To Use WinMerge To Compare Files In Two Folders:

Use WinMerge

Follow the steps to compare the files:

Step 1:

When you open the WinMerge, just hit the Control+O hotkey combination to open a new comparison.

Step 2:

If you want to choose a folder, tap “Browse…” on the far right just at the bottom of the “1st File or Folder” bar.

Step 3:

You can then use the browse feature to choose a folder that you like to compare.

Step 4:

Within the browse window, try to enter the folder you like to compare, then tap “Open”. If you only choose but don’t enter the folder you like to compare, the browse window will automatically enter the folder for you. When you’ve chosen the first folder, repeat the whole process for the other folder given below it.

Step 5:

After you’ve chosen both folders that you like to compare, make sure that both “Read-only” checkboxes are marked.

Step 6:

You check that the “Folder Filter” is set to the default “*.*”, to compare the files. After you’ve completed setting up the comparison, simply tap “Compare”.

Step 7:

With large folders containing many files and subdirectories, the comparison process takes a few minutes to complete. When it has completed successfully, you’ll then view a list of all the files in the folders. By default, the results table lists show the subdirectory path, the filename, the comparison result, the edit dates of the file in both folders, and the file extension for each file in the compared folders.

Tip: You can modify which columns appear by right-tapping a column header and tapping “Customize Columns…”

Step 8:

The required comparison results show if folders or files are similar or different. When the comparison says a file is “Right only” it means that the folder or file was only in the other folder being compared and not the first. Also, “Left only” means the folder or file was only in the first folder being compared.

Both results are color-coded to make highlighting easier. The meaning of the white background is the files are similar. Also, the meaning of the yellow background is the files are quite different. Or else, a grey background means the files or folders are only in one of the two folders being compared.

  • If you double-tap on a folder, then it’ll expand to reveal its contents.
  • If you double-tap on a file it will open a side by side comparison can spot the differences, if any, between the two files.

For a large number of files, it might be easy to hide all of the files that are similar, to make it easier to check differences. To do so, simply tap “View” in the top bar, and then unmark “Show identical items” by tapping on it.

Start A New Comparison:

Every comparison you run opens in a new tab. If you want to start a new comparison, tap on the “Select Files or Folders” tab located in the far left. Then modify the targets and tap “Compare” again. If you want to update the previous comparison, you can then tap the refresh icon located on the far right or then hit the F5 key.


I hope you understand how to compare files or folders in WinMerge. If you want to share anything else then feel free and share with us. For further queries and questions let us know in the comment section below!

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