WinMerge is a system utility that allows you to compare files or folders, and merge files. When comparing folders, the program tells you whether the files inside are identical or different, or if they are presented in one of the folders only. On the other hand, when the program compares files, it highlights the differences between them. WinMerge can compare both text and binary files.
The program offers a pretty simple user interface, though it may not be intuitive enough for beginners, due to the amount of buttons present on its toolbar. Basically, you just need to open the file/folder selection dialog to define your source elements, and then the program will perform the comparison automatically. Of course, you cannot compare a file with a folder or vice-versa. You can enable file and line filters for the comparison, and tell the program to compare subfolders too in case the source elements are folders. You can even enable unpackers, which are useful to compare special file types, like MS Word or Excel files.
As for the toolbar, it includes multiple buttons that enable or disable specific actions depending on the operation you are performing or the elements you select. Some of these buttons allow you to navigate through the differences found, copy text from one file to the other, copy the selected difference into the other file and then advance to the next difference, undo/redo your last action, open the file/folder selection dialog, and other actions. The main problem with these buttons is that they are not labeled at all, and you need to hover the mouse over a button to see its tooltip.
In conclusion, WinMerge is a handy tool that allows you to detect differences between two files or two folders, and to merge files. Although it may take a while to get used to the program's user interface, the program is in fact simple and easy to use. It integrates with the Windows shell and features a version control system that is capable of creating patch files in different formats.
- Compares both text and binary files.
- Allows you to include subfolders in folder comparison.
- You can enable filters and unpackers for your comparisons.
- Includes a version control system with patch file generation
- May not be intuitive enough for beginners