How to Make Notepad++ Compare Two Files With a Plugin | TechBuzz

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Notepad++ is a free, open-source code and text editor jampacked with many features for casual users and programmers. It supports various programming languages with custom syntax highlighting, auto-completion, and code folding.

The inclusion of sophisticated editing tools, user-defined style options, and support for dozens and more plugins is like icing on the cake. One such powerful plugin is the Notepad++ Compare plugin, which lets you see the visual difference between the two files. We’ll show you how to use this plugin to compare two files in Notepad++.

Basics of Plugins Admin

Plugin Admins or Manager is the repository of plugins to extend the functionality of Notepad++. There are a couple of settings you should watch out for before installing the app.

On the Choose Component screen, make sure to select the Custom option from the dropdown list, then check Plugins Admin. Many users skip the installation steps. If you do so, the plugin manager will not get installed. It’s better to slowly proceed with the installation steps.

Notepad++ keeps configuration files in this folder:

\Users[User Name]\AppData\Roaming\Notepad++\plugins
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If you plan to use this app on another computer or store it on a USB drive, then check Don’t use %APPDATA box. Your configuration files will remain in the Program Files folder.

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Plugins Admin lists all the available and installed plugins. You can install, update, or remove installed plugins. A revamped version came into effect in version 7.6 and above. We recommend you to update Notepad++ to get the best possible experience.

Installing the Compare Plugin

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Launch Notepad++. Navigate to Plugins > Plugins Admin to open plugins manager. In the popup window that appears, type in Compare on the search bar. Check the box, then click Install. Once the plugin gets installed, the app will restart.

Click the Compare tool option from the Plugin menu. As of now, you can download the latest iteration of this plugin (version 2.0.2) from GitHub. This particular release is compatible with Notepad++ 8.2.2 and later. If you’re using the older version of Notepad++ and have no plan to upgrade the app, use Compare plugin version 2.0.1. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available.

How to Compare Two Files in Notepad++

The compare plugin assumes that you want to compare an old version of your work versus the new version. Open any two files (A, B) in Notepad++, which you want to compare. File B (new) gets compared to File A (old).

Then, navigate to Plugins > Compare Menu > Compare.

It shows the difference/comparison side by side, as shown in the screenshot. You can set any open file as the default. Simply click Compare > Set as First to Compare. Choose this selected file to compare it with other ones in whatever mode you decide.

Colors and Symbols

The compare plugin uses various colors and symbols to denote the changes in your file. You could have added, deleted, moved, or changed the line.

  • Added (+): The line only exists in the new file and not the old ones. The highlight color is green.
  • Deleted (): The line does not exist in the new file and only present in the old file. The highlight color is red.
  • Moved: The line appears in the other file once and at a different location.
  • Changed: Most of the line is identical in both files. You’ll see any changes highlighted in orange.
The Compare > Detect Moves option allows you to show/hide icons for added or removed lines. Although we don’t recommend you to uncheck this option, be cautious if you’re disabling them while comparing two files.

The navigation bar to the right side of the Notepad++ comes useful. In a big file, navigating the whole file top up and down to find the difference is difficult and time-consuming. It fulfills the dual role of both a sitemap and bookmark browser.

Click the selected area to scroll in your file. Since it uses the same convention for colors and symbols, you’ll come to know which line was added, removed, and more with a glance.

Changing the View Modes

By default, when you compare two files, it does so in double-view mode. Right-click the gripper and choose Rotate to the right or Rotate to the left. It splits the window horizontally or vertically. If you continue rotating, your old file appears on the left, and the new file appears in the right pane.

Explore the Settings

When you click the Compare menu, it shows a popup with all the commands and options. It even lists down the keyboard shortcuts for those commands.

The compare plugin has all the basic features of a standard Diff tool. Navigate to Compare > Settings and explore the settings you can tweak.

  • Color Settings: This option allows you to set color for Added, Deleted, Moved, and Changed lines. You can choose a different color, change the highlight color, and its transparency.
  • Menu Settings: The options listed here let you customize the file positions. The first is to determine whether you’re comparing the old or new file. Old file position allows you to position the old file at the left or right view (top/bottom in vertical split). Single-view default compares to let you compare the active file in a single-view mode with the previous or next file.
  • Warn about encodings mismatch: shows you a warning message on trying to compare two files with different encodings. Read this article to find out the difference between ASCII and Unicode text.
  • Wrap around diffs: Determines whether it should enable the Next command on reaching the last diff and go to the first diff.
  • Go to first diff after re-compare: When unchecked, the caret position will not change on re-compare.
  • Ignore Spaces: For better output, you should uncheck this option.


Time-Saving Uses of the Notepad++ Compare Plugin

The need to compare files in day-to-day computing work is often underestimated. However, they prove useful in many practical tasks:

  1. When you’re working on a code and want to see the changes other people made, a compare tool can make comparison a lot easier. The built-in SVN Diff and Git Diff feature lets you compare the current version of a file with the local Git/SVN database.
  2. You can precisely determine the line showing any code typos or defects. Thus, enable you to locate the source of your problem.
  3. The difference gets highlighted in various light and dark color hues to help you identify changes.
  4. You can compare files in a folder and know which directory is missing what files. This is useful if you have a large music or ebook collection. To get the list of files, here are some ways to print folder and directory contents.

Compare Two PDFs Side By Side

Notepad++ is a flexible code and text editor app. You can customize it to any level depending on your needs. The compare plugin is a solid example that shows the power of plugins. You can compare text, markdown, and even coding files.

With the flexible view modes and settings, this plugin is comparable to a Diff tool. The only limitation of this plugin is that you cannot compare proprietary file formats. Read our guide to explore some apps that lets you compare two PDFs.


Compare two PDFs
The 8 Best Tools to Compare Two PDFs Side by Side

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I am admin of techbuzz.asia blog & I provide tech-related news. As a part of my hobby, I make content related to technology and gadgets reviews too. I love to be a content creator apart from it, I am a full-time employee in an MNC company and manage blogs systematically. You can mail me at [email protected]

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