Best Online File Comparison Tool

Being formerly of the World of Windows, I was a major fan of WinMerge (read: Like Firebug/Inspector tools, I cannot imagine doing my job without it now!), so I’ve been seriously sucking wind since moving to the Land of Apple…

WinMerge, although free, is, as the name somewhat implies, Windows-only, and I’m too cheap to pay for something.  And some times opening VMWare (to use WinMerge) just sucks the life out of my laptop, depending on what else I’m working on…

Suddenly, as if the hand of Steve Jobs reached down and and smacked me on the head, I decided to Google “online file comparison“…

Here are a couple options that I really like:

  • DiffNow – Has a nice side-by-side screen that expands if I stretch my window wide enough to read the contents of both panels.  Highlights the differences, gives you a count of the differences at the bottom of the panels, gives you some not-very-intuitive difference navigation at the bottom-right.  I couldn’t get the File Upload tab to work, had to copy/paste both files in, but hey, not complaining (too much).  The comparison process was kind of slow (again, it is free), and the differences highlight color could be a little bolder to help the selections stand-out (right now kind of pale yellow).
  • CompareMyFiles – Has side-by-side comparison, but the panels are a little too narrow to read, and don’t expand when I widen my window (come on guys, really?).  Did highlight my differences, but once it encountered a difference, everything after that was different (because the line numbers were now off).  Also, gives no way of finding your differences other than scrolling and scrolling until you see the bright blue selections.  That said, the File Upload did work and the comparison was pretty fast.
  • Google Docs (well, sort of…) – A hack-ish sort of idea of using Google Doc’s revision history to paste the contents of one version of a file, save, then paste the contents of another version of a file, save, then check revision history.  I guess if all else fails, but I think either above would be a bit easier…

Anyone have any other suggestions?

Happy comparing,

9 Responses to Best Online File Comparison Tool

  1. matt says:

    hey aaron – i use the filemerge app that comes with xcode (i believe). didn’t realize it was included but found it with a little research. it should be in the /Developer/Applications/Utilities directory.

    • aarontgrogg says:

      ah, cool! was hoping to find something totally online, so i wouldn’t have to worry about installing on various machines, upgrading, etc.

      but glad you have something, you like it?


  2. Matt says:

    Do any of the online diff tools you tried compare folders?

    • aarontgrogg says:

      Hmm… none that I saw…

      Mostly, probably, because the online tool wouldn’t have access to your hard-drive…

      But would love to hear of one! :-)

  3. Am I right to worry about online compare file apps security risks associated with them? If I am comparing private and confidential files these files will be loaded on to the server somewhere?

    • aarontgrogg says:

      @Nico: If something were seriously private, then yes, you should probably keep it off of the web. But if you trying to do code comparisons or bug-hunting, I don’t think there would be any issue. I cannot imagine someone retaining all the files uploaded, and then digging through them.

  4. John says:

    What about It displays the diff between two snippets of text similarly to how the github compare looks.

  5. Juan says:

    Can you try ? I made this because I needed to compare xml/json results and none of the alternatives, had syntax highlighting.

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