35+ useful document and file comparison tools

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Figuring out how a document has changed from one version to another isn’t always the easiest task. It’s further complicated when that document is long or complex, like source code.

The tools collected here can help you analyze and compare your documents and files, as well as merge them if necessary. There are tools to compare everything from Word docs to WAV files, and everything in between (including plenty that support syntax highlighting for code). Some are free, and some are paid. There are options available for macOS, Windows, and Linux.

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File and Document Comparison Tools

Beyond Compare Version 4

Beyond Compare lets you easily compare files and folders, including text files (with syntax highlighting for HTML), Word docs, and PDF files, among others. Available for Windows, macOS, and Linux for $35 per user (Standard) and $70 per user (Pro).

user interface of beyond compare version 4

Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope lets you compare text documents (including source code) and images. It has built-in integrations with other programs and can read PSD, TXT, PNG, JPG, and HTML files. Available for macOS for $8 per month.

user interface of Kaleidoscope

Litera Compare

Litera Compare accurately detects changes across any two documents in seconds. It’s available for desktop and the cloud, and is compatible with all Microsoft Windows operating systems and Office versions. Mac users can access Litera Compare through the Office 365 app. Pricing begins at $425 per user, per year.

user interface of Litera Compare

GlobalVision

GlobalVision proofreads XML, Word, text, and PDF files. The software makes it possible to quickly compare fonts, sizes, deletions, insertions, spelling, and location for any files. Great for large enterprises in regulated industries. Contact sales for pricing.

user interface of GlobalVision

ExamDiff

ExamDiff is a freeware visual file comparison tool for Windows. It includes automatic change detection, one-click recompare, drag and drop support, and is fully customizable. Pricing options for the standard edition of ExamDiff start from $34.99 for one new seat and $19.99 to upgrade the plan.

user interface of examdiff

Diff Doc

Diff Doc can be used to compare Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, RTF, text, HTML, XML, and other file types. It’s available for Windows and costs $299.95.

diffdoc logo

Compare Suite

Compare Suite lets you compare by keyword, compare two folders, and ignore certain words. It includes syntax highlighting to make it easier to compare code documents. Compare Suite is available for Windows for $70 for a single user license.

user interface of compare suite

WinMerge

WinMerge is an open source differencing and merging tool. It shows comparisons visually and makes it easy to merge documents. Available for Windows, Linux, and Mac text files.

user interface of winmerge

Araxis Merge

Araxis Merge is a two- and three-way document comparison, merging, and folder synchronization tool. It can be used to compare source code, web pages, XML, and other text files, as well as Word and Excel documents, PDFs, and RTF files. It’s available for both Windows and macOS for $129 for the Standard version and $269 for the Professional version (single user license). Pricing is available for multiple licenses as well.

user interface of araxis merge

Changes

Changes lets you sync folders, compare both code and prose, and even compare inside a variety of text and code editors (including BBEdit and TextMate). Changes is available for macOS for $35.39 for a single license.

user interface of changes

Code Compare

Code Compare is a source code comparison tool designed to compare and merge different files and folders. It integrates with all popular source control systems: TFS, SVN, Git, Mercurial, and Perforce. Basic functionality is free, but there’s also a Pro version for $69.95.

user interface of code compare

DiffMerge

DiffMerge is a free document comparison and merging tool for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It includes full editing support for compared files, and merging for up to three files. Registration is $39.

user interface of diffmerge

Pretty Diff

Pretty Diff is a free web app for comparing code, written entirely in JavaScript.

user interface of pretty diff

Kompare

Kompare is a free graphical computer app that helps you compare two different text files or directories. It functions as a graphical front end to the command line interface diff utility. 

user interface of kompare

UltraCompare

UltraCompare is a file and folder comparison utility that works for text files, Word documents, ZIP files, and JAR archives. In addition to local/network directory comparison, it also supports FTP comparison. It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux for $79.95 for the standard subscription and $99.95 per year for the all-access subscription. There is a free version available for Windows.

user interface of ultracompare

Diffuse

Diffuse is a free Python text comparison and merge tool for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

user interface of diffuse

Compare & Merge

Compare & Merge is a file comparison and merging utility for source code, HTML, XML, and text-based files. It’s available for Windows for $39.95.

user interface of Compare & Merge

Active File Compare

Active File Compare has syntax highlighting support for C++, C#, Java, Visual Basic, HTML, PHP, XML, and many other programming languages. It can also compare files in ZIP, TAR, and GZip archives. It’s available for Windows for $15.95 for a business license or $9.95 for a personal license.

user interface of Active File Compare

Colored Diffs

Colored Diffs is a Thunderbird add-on that highlights differences in CVS or SVN email notifications about changes made by other users.

user interface of Colored Diffs

Compare It! 4

Compare It! lets you compare not only text files, but also binary and image files, and includes an editing engine. It’s available for Windows and costs $29 for a personal license.

user interface of Compare It! 4

Compare PDF

Compare PDF supports both PDF and text file comparisons. It can be integrated with other software products. Compare PDF is available for Windows and costs $35 for a single user license.

user interface of compare pdf

DiffPDF

DiffPDF is a program that lets you compare two PDF files, with both text and appearance views (to check things like whether a paragraph has been reformatted or if an image has changed). You can get a license for Windows for $180.

user interface of diffpdf

Meld

Meld is a free visual comparison and merging tool for Linux and Windows. It allows for comparison of two or three documents and in-place edits. It also enables folder comparisons.

user interface of meld

Files Compare Tool

Files Compare Tool is a visual comparison app for files and directories. It offers color-coded side-by-side comparison and a powerful editing engine.

user interface of files compare tool

Quick Diff Online Tool

Quick Diff is a simple, free online comparison tool. Just copy and paste the two bits of text you want to compare.

user interface of quick diff online tool

FourierRocks

FourierRocks is a graphical WAV file comparison tool. It’s open source, and works on the .NET framework.

user interface of fourierrocks

TortoiseMerge

TortoiseMerge is simple revision control, version control, and source control software for Windows. It’s completely free for anyone to use without restriction, and the source code is readily available so you can develop your own version.

user interface of tortoisemerge

Adlib

Adlib is a document transformation solution that automatically discovers, extracts, and converts information from any document type into easily searchable, shareable formats. 

user interface of adlib

Text Compare!

Text Compare! is an online diff tool that can quickly find the difference between two text documents. All you need to do is paste the text to compare.

user interface of text compare

Altova DiffDog

Altova DiffDog is a XML-aware diff and merge tool that lets you compare and merge text or source code files, XML or JSON files, and Word documents. You can compare and synchronize directories, database schemas and content, and more. The Pro license costs $129, and the Enterprise license costs $209.

user interface of altova diffdog

Diffchecker

Diffchecker is a tool that lets users compare and analyze media, such as text, images, PDFs, Excel files, and more. The Pro plan costs $15 per month, and the Enterprise plan costs $40 per month.

user interface of diffchecker

Draftable

Draftable is document comparison software that allows users to compare files and documents on a browser, desktop, or in an app. Draftable online is free. The desktop version for Windows is $129 per year. API versions are also available, with custom pricing. The Pro version costs $199 per year.

user interface of draftable

DiffNow

Powered by ExamDiff Pro, DiffNow is a free desktop comparison tool for text, URLs, and other files. It includes support for syntax highlighting and Unicode. A premium version is available for $2.99 per month.

user interface of diffnow

Code Diff

Use the free online Code Diff Tool to compare and highlight two different text files. 

user interface of code diff

Online Text Compare

Online Text Compare is a tool that lets you compare the differences between two text files by highlighting text and merging differences using red and green merge arrows.

user interface of online text compare

Copyleaks

Copyleaks is an AI-based platform that detects plagiarized content, AI-generated content, and more. Products include AI content and plagiarism detectors for browsers and API. Contact sales for pricing.

user interface of copyleaks

Aspose

Aspose offers a document comparison tool that allows users to compare two documents and quickly identify the differences. It supports almost all office document formats, including DOCX, PDF, RTF, ODT, and HTML. Pricing is based on plan and organization.

user interface of aspose

Conclusion

The tools above can be a great way to compare documents and files. But don’t overlook the document comparison tools built into many programs developers and designers already use. Dreamweaver has built-in tools for comparing documents. So does Google Docs. Even WordPress has comparison tools for posts and pages. Leave us a comment and tell us what your favorite comparison tools are.

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AUTHOR
Cameron Chapman is a professional Web and graphic designer with many years of experience. She writes for a number of blogs, including her own, Cameron Chapman On Writing. She’s also the author of Internet Famous: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Online Celebrity.

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