Compare two text files in Notepad++


Notepad++ is the most popular Text Editor for the Windows Operating System, one of its widely used features of it is text compare.

You can compare two files (be it XML, JSON, CSV, Java, Python, HTML, JavaScript, CSS code, or any text file) to know if they are identical, do they have something missing, what is the difference between the two files.

If you do not see the Compare tool under the Plugins menu, then you would need to install it using the Plugin Admin (Manager) - follow this tutorial to install it - https://code2care.org/q/notepad-plus-plus-compare-option-unavailable

How to compare two files in Notepad++

  1. Open Notepad++,
  2. Open the 1st file you want to compare in one tab,
  3. Open the 2nd file you want to compare in another tab,
  4. If you have multiple tabs open, be on the 1st file and go to Plugins -> Compare -> Set as first to compare.
  5. Now go the 2nd file tab and goto Plugins -> Compare -> Compare.
  6. You should be able to see the files compared with the differences.
GIF Demo:
Compare two files in Notepad++
Compare two files in Notepad++

As you can see in the above example, as soon as you click on Compare, the Notepad++ Window is split into two halves with files side-by-side to show how the two files are different.

The Compare Nav Bar shows you color heatmap of the differences between files which comes in handy when there are huge files that you are trying to compare.

Notepad++ Compare Demo
Notepad++ Compare Two Files

In the next example, we have auto-arranged to match files line-by-line and you can see various colors and icons to represent the missing line, extra line, and line that varies a bit - you can check it out under Compare -> Settings.

Notepad++ Compare Colors
Notepad++ Compare Colors
Notepad++ Compare Options
Notepad++ Compare Options
Compare Options and Keyboard Shortcuts:
Set as First to Compare: Ctrl+Alt+1
Compare: Ctrl+AIt+C
Clear Active Compare: Ctrl+Alt+X
Clear All Compares: CtrI+ Alt+ Shift + X
Diff since last Save: Ctrl+Alt+D
SVN Diff: Ctrl+Alt+V
Git Diff: Ctrl+Alt+G

Ignore Spaces
Detect Moves
Navigation Bar

Previous: Alt+ Page up
Next: Alt+Page down
First: Ctrl+Alt+ Page up
Last: Ctrl+Alt+Page down
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