How to Compare two files using NotePad++

How to Compare two files using NotePad++

Notepad++ (Notepad plus plus) is a great file editing tool. Think of it as a replacement of Window’s notepad but with lots and lots of features. You can format XMLs, search and replace using REGEX, etc.

One of the features I like a lot is its ability to compare two files and look for differences. If you’ve used a version control program you know what I am talking about. Obviously this program is more targeted as a lightweight general use program (think putting it in all your workstations/servers). So if you are trying to look for a change in a system file after you perform an operation you just make a copy and have NotePad++ point the differences. I use it to test text replacing using REGEX as the eager/lazy functions if not used adequately cause unexpected results.

If you haven’t done so already download a copy of Notepad++ and follow this simple instructions:

  1. Install the Comparison plugin (do this first as it is going to ask you to restart the program)
    1. Go to Plugins > Plugin Manager > Show Plugin Manager
    2. In the Available tag look for Compare and install it.
    3. Restart Notepad++ as requested.
  2. Open up the two files that you want to compare in Notepad++.
  3. Go to Plugins > Compare > Compare
  4. Now both files will show up side by side and you will see the differences highlighted plus a third panel showing the results. Because it breaks the screen in 3 panels you can compare different files using the first two panels simply by opening the files and dragging them to the panel you wish to have them in.
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