This post will help you how to compare two files in Notepad++. Whether you want to compare two text files to find the differences between them or you need to compare a programming file with two different versions, you will be able to do it within Notepad++.

If there is any new line added, a line is deleted or removed, a line is moved, and a line is changed (like some word or letter is added or removed in a line) in any of the two files added for comparison, you can see those changes.

The differences are highlighted with different colors for added lines, deleted lines, changed lines, etc. You can also see a plus icon with green color and a minus icon with red color for a line added or removed in any of those two files.

Compare two files in Notepad++

Notepad++ doesn’t come with a built-in feature to compare two files, but you can use a free Notepad++ plugin called Compare to make it possible. It shows the differences between the two files side by side on the interface of Notepad++. Here are the steps:

  1. Open Notepad++
  2. Access Plugins Admin option
  3. Search Compare plugin in Plugins Admin page
  4. Install the plugin
  5. Open two files in Notepad++
  6. Access Compare plugin options under Plugins menu
  7. Use the comparison options of the Compare plugin.

At first, launch Notepad++ using its desktop shortcut, Windows Search box, or Start menu.

Click on the Plugins menu and then select the Plugins Admin option. Plugins Admin (earlier known as Plugin Manager) page will open.

use Plugins Admin option in Plugins menu

On the Plugins Admin page, search for compare plugin. In the search results, select the Compare plugin, and press the Install button. A confirmation box will open. Press the Yes button in that box.

search compare plugin and install using plugins admin page

It will close and restart Notepad++ and the Compare plugin will be installed automatically.

Now open two files in Notepad++ that you want to compare. After doing that, click on the Plugins menu and access the Compare plugin. You will see the following options:

  • Set as First to Compare: Using this option, you can make the foreground file the first file (or old file) with which you can compare any other background file (or new file) opened in Notepad++
  • Compare: this option helps to compare the first file with the second file. You have to go to the second file and then use this option for comparison. Any difference such as line added or removed, the line changed, etc., between two files, are highlighted and visible in Notepad++
  • Clear Active Compare
  • Clear All Compares: to close the comparison of all files
  • SVN Diff and Git Diff: to compare the current version of a file with the local Git/SVN database. Helpful for coding files.
  • Ignore Spaces for comparison. For better output, you should uncheck this option
  • Detect Moves option to show/hide icons for added or removed lines
  • Navigation Bar: this option provides a navigation bar on the top right part during the comparison. It is helpful when you are comparing large files. Instead of scrolling manually, you can use a navigation bar to quickly go to a particular part of files that you’re comparing.

access options of compare plugin

For each option available for comparison, there is also a hotkey to quickly use a particular option. Use comparison options as per your needs.

Compare Plugin Settings

If you want to adjust color settings for comparison and main settings, then you can access Settings of this Compare plugin and customize them as per your convenience. Use the Settings option available under Compare plugin options. A separate box will open.

Using that box, you can change the default color for an added line, change highlight, moved line, changed line, etc., with any color of your choice. You can also set a highlight transparency level between 0 to 100.

compare plugin settings

Apart from that, the settings box also lets you show/hide the compact navigation bar, set the position of the first file (left or right), wrap-around diffs, automatically go to first difference after full comparison is done, etc.

When Settings are adjusted, press OK to save the changes. That’s all.

This way you can compare two text files, programming files, etc., in Notepad++. Hope this post is helpful.

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By VenomJi

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