You’ve been working on a document and shared it for edits or revisions with your team. Over time, several people have contributed to the document, which means it’s no longer in its original version.
In order to find out the changes that have been made from the initial document, you need a way of figuring out the differences while viewing the original and final draft alongside each other.
You could open two different windows or cascade them but that would be tasking especially if you have to minimize or switch between the documents just to see how one version changed from the other.
It’s not always the simplest task. In fact, it gets more complex or intricate when the final document is longer or more complicated than the source or original one.
That’s where a text comparison tool comes in handy. This tool can analyze and compare the text on your file or document and even merge them if you want.
Text comparison tools compare everything from portions of text to Word or PDF documents, and everything in between. Some text comparison tools also compare or support syntax highlighting code.
There are several free and paid text comparison tools available for your type of device, and for writers or programmers, which can help you figure out the changes in the documents you’re viewing.
When you’re working on your device every day, the files and documents pile up. The more they increase, the more the junk on your computer or tablet, which you need to work on.
You don’t want to miss any changes someone else makes or keep piling on the duplicate files – which is why you need to keep comparing the text on those files or documents regularly.
When you compare documents or text manually, it can be tedious – or downright impossible to do. You’re likely to miss out on some details so you may need to double-check if any changes have been made – even by hackers.
Text comparison tools are the smartest way to compare text effectively while saving yourself time and effort. These tools allow you to upload your text or document and track any changes regularly.
If you’re a writer, you may use a visual text comparison tool to compare your text while a software developer may use one with exporting and syntax highlighting features.
Below, we’ve listed 15 of the best text comparison tools that help you compare and merge differences, making your work easier and saving you time.
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Meld is a free text comparison and merging tool that lets you compare text in your documents, including in-place edits. You can also compare folders with Meld.
The simple, cross-platform comparison and merge tool has an intuitive user interface and packs its functions neatly into an easy-to-navigate and handy menu.
You get many customizable settings to make your text comparison easy and quick, plus options to select a comparison module.
The tool displays the comparisons side-by-side, along with differences between the text highlighted so you can easily see any individual changes.
On either panel, there are vertical bars with colored blocks and an overview of all the changes like any insertions, deletions, changes, or conflicts. You can select the arrows in different segments to copy or merge text blocks or files with other text or files.
The software’s features include three-way text comparison with real-time changes regardless of the amount of information. Plus, it integrates with Git, SVN, Mercurial, and Bazaar among other source control systems for version control.
The native version filter helps you compare changes to the repository or local text file, and the text editor supports whitespace, line numbers, text wrapping, and syntax highlighting for a user-friendly experience.
With the text filters, you can use regular expressions or ignore text that matches a certain pattern while creating complex filters.
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WinMerge is an open-source text comparison tool that’s free to use and helps you compare your text – whether they’re folders or files. The software helps you view and compare text online from its numerous versions and offers extensive features that are highly useful.
You can compare text visually and merge documents easily. The tool generates differences in a visual text format that’s easy to understand and manage.
This way, you can identify the changes that were added between two different versions and blend them together. The software can also be used as an external merging and comparison tool or a standalone app.
The tool has a tabbed interface, handles Unix, Windows, and Mac text file formats, and supports Unicode. You can compare images, folders, and use other features such as shell integration and version control.
The software offers a split interface for you to compare your text, and the comparison is displayed through conflict and similar content highlights. You can see the characters and lines in respective text portions below the interface.
You can also edit the text in real-time, and your changes will be saved later. In read-only mode, the software analyzes your text and activates Merge Mode to make both texts identical.
With WinMerge, you can copy the information from the text on the right/left or left/right, and use simple navigation options, swapping or locking panes, syntax highlighting, zooming in/out, location panes, line or file filters, and the text editor.
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ExamDiff is a free text comparison tool that identifies or detects and displays any changes in your text. The software can access your text file to compare differences, including documents, and find them by name after which you can use the Autopick feature to automatically pull up matching file pairs.
Once you compare the text, the tool detects more changes to the file prompting you to go through with the re-comparison. You can easily navigate the comparison panes and customize ExamDiff for your needs.
ExamDiff also has drag and drop support and you can edit your text or individual files. You can also view them separately or swap them, and save them for future comparisons.
The tool also offers an option to associate particular types of files including PDF, DOC, RTF, DOCX, and more.
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Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is another excellent text comparison tool, especially for PDF documents. You can use the feature to compare two different versions of text or multiple versions of a file.
If you’re collaborating with several other people on a particular file or document, tracking the revisions can be daunting. However, Acrobat Pro DC helps you compare the text easily and quickly among other elements and spot the differences.
You can visualize the text side-by-side to see the changes or use different filters to highlight the changes in the text over elements like annotations, images, and more. Other than that, you can create and edit PDF files using this tool, convert the files, sign PDFs, and use it for text recognition.
KDiff3 lets you upload text to compare at a time. You’ll see a prompt where you can upload your text for comparison and view them side-by-side on the interface.
The text comparison tool compares or merges text files or directories, displaying the generated results by line and character. It also has an automatic merging option and a native editor so you can solve merge conflicts.
Plus, KDiff3 provides support for codecs like UTF-8 and Unicode among others, plus KIO on KDE so you can access fish, smb, sftp, ftp, and more.
You can also print out the differences in your text, manually align the lines, and automatically merge version control history.
The software has a responsive graphical user interface, and a Diffview to help you decide what to show in the split windows as you compare your text. This includes line numbers, white spaces, and tabulator characters.
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P4Merge is a free text comparison tool that helps you compare text using its Diff and Merge features.
With the Diff feature, you can view browsed text in split windows for linear comparison. It shows different highlighted content in grey color on both text versions and the total differences appear atop the interface.
You can navigate quickly from one difference to another or move to a different line number in a document. You also get the option to edit text files.
The Merge feature merges the text from both versions into a base document and you can compare all three – the original, second draft, and the base document alongside each other.
You can see the total conflicts in all three versions and any duplicate ones remain without changes. The preview of the merged file appears below the interface and you can use it as a plain text editor then save the final text as a separate document file.
P4Merge compares and merges documents easily, and offers you the option to select Comparison method or Character Encoding and customize interface preferences.
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TKDiff is a simple text comparison application you can use to compare two types of text. It works with plain text format files and TCL ones, is easy to use, and anyone can handle it – whether novice or professional.
The software comes with a simply designed interface that gives you the option to pick the files you want to compare using the browser. You can see the results in a dual-pane window noticing the differences in blue on the text contents.
It has a syntax highlighting feature, and shows numbers, syncs scrollbars, bypasses white spaces, and goes to the differences in the first, previous, last, or next text.
TKDiff can write a merge file or use a search feature when handling large data. It hardly uses the system memory or CPU resources meaning it won’t affect the runtime of other running processes.
The open-source tool works for Windows operating systems and compares the text line by line while letting you view the results in split windows. You can also edit the text individually in a basic editor view and recalculate the differences after editing.
The split windows are easy to navigate for comparison and analysis of your text, and you get useful features to show change bars, mark current differences, and export results as TXT files.
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SmartSynchronize is a text comparison tool that allows you to open two different text files in comparison mode and analyze their differences. It highlights these differences in split view so you can move from one to another effortlessly, or to a specific line number and compare the content for both.
You can fix the issues between the text and make them similar by using the Take Right or Take Left options. The left option inserts the same text on a specific line number on the left to the right side and vice versa.
You also get a three-way merge feature to combine the text to a third base document. Here, you can view and compare all the documents, including the base document, and merge them into one file.
Plus, you can edit the files you’re comparing and save the changes then export the results in HTML format. Its simple interface and several handy features make SmartSynchronize an easy text comparison tool to use.
9. Diff Doc
Diff Doc is a simple text comparison tool that helps you compare your content fast, effortlessly, and accurately, regardless of the file format you’re using.
To use the software, just upload your original text or file and the changed one, and then refresh to compare the text. The comparison will appear instantly on the interface.
You can compare folders too and understand what has changed before carrying out a detailed comparison. Diff Doc can show the file differences through a Side by Side mode view or All In One view, with one click.
You also get a wide range of reports and options so you can share the results of the comparison with others.
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DiffMerge is a free text comparison and merging tool for Windows, Linux, and MacOS that offers full editing support for the text you compare and merges up to three text files.
The software has powerful features such as tabs for reference view and edit view – to analyze and move your content, ruleset to compare and show document contents based on type, and character encoding indicator to change encoding character sets for better comparison.
You can also export compared results in TXT format and customize color schemes to highlight different, identical, or equivalent comparisons of your text.
DiffMerge also has the open file merge feature that opens three split windows so you can see changes in three text files simultaneously. You can also merge them to get a common version and compare folders too.
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Diffuse is a free text comparison and merge tool that works with Linux and Windows operating systems.
The simple Python-based software is powerful enough to help you compare and merge text files while easily comparing them in parallel and providing the option to adjust line-matching manually or edit your files directly.
Plus, you can recover modifications of files from Git, Bazaar, CVS, RCS, and other libraries for comparison and merging. The Diffuse tool offers line-matching that you can amend manually, syntax highlighting, and allows you to edit files immediately.
Native version control is included that helps you save revisions once you merge or edit the text. The tool is ideal for code reviewers or QA teams who need it for easy navigation with keyboard shortcuts and syntax highlighting with support for different repositories when tracking versions.
DiffNow is an online text comparison tool that allows you to run your text files and quickly see the differences. The free software is simple, making it useful and suitable for when you need to make quick checks on the go.
It has a decent design that won’t impact its functionality, and you can compare text files by uploading text, entering a URL, or manually typing the text.
Once you run the checks, you get the results in an interactive comparison HTML report that you can easily download.
The software can save your searches and share them with others. Plus, it supports binary and text files, directories, source code documents, and archive formats.
You can archive files like RAR and ZIP with the result displayed as directories, and save diff reports for up to one year with customizable display and comparison options.
DiffNow also offers monthly or annual premium membership options with advanced features like word wrap, native plugins, multiple option profiles, and advanced ignore options among others.
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13. Litera Compare
Litera Compare is a comparison tool that checks multiple types of text files. It detects changes across text accurately and in seconds, and you can use it on the cloud, from a desktop, or on the go.
The software manages revisions and highlights changes between two versions of your text, or files like PDFs, presentations, spreadsheets, and more. It also compares embedded objects and searchable PDFs and works with all Windows and Office versions.
You get instant insight and holistic analysis of the changes in your text in an easy-to-understand layout. You can also streamline reviews by eliminating manual comparisons and version creation, and have the confidence that each change was captured.
Once you see the changes, you can accept, reject, or flag them for review later.
Its main features include the integrated workflow. This allows you to compare entire text files or highlighted snippets on the go or at home in Outlook, the document, directly in Word, PDF, Excel, or PowerPoint, and case management systems.
And when you’re done, you can save the merged version, redlines, or create a new text file with the original formatting that shows the changes combined from the comparison, then email or print them out.
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TextCompare is a free text comparison tool that doesn’t need any software download. It compares plain text online but also allows you to compare files like Word documents, images, PDFs, and spreadsheets.
If you paste text from a PDF or Word document, TextCompare can find differences or similarities between them. However, it doesn’t support all document types.
The tool works on devices running Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems. It’s privacy-friendly, meaning all the text processing and comparison happens in your web browser so your data isn’t shared – it remains private.
It also has an inline diff mode, dark/high-contrast theme support, word wrapping, and formatting for various programming languages.
The software can change statistics and has a line-by-line change navigator, doesn’t require installation, and works on all modern browsers. Plus, it offers 128-bit SSL/TLS encryption for shared or uploaded diffs, and you can export the comparison results as a single PDF file in combined mode.
Diffchecker is an online text comparison tool with a simple yet straightforward layout. It compares the text you paste on it in two side-by-side panels, which find the differences and display the original and changed version of your text.
Diffchecker saves differences and allows you to share them on other platforms, like social media, or copy the link it provides so you can share somewhere else.
With the software, you can compare the text for free, or use the paid desktop app that works with Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.
The tool also has a cloud-hosted feature and SVG viewer, which help when creating the terminal or cloud-hosted diffs.
You can compare text online and save time and effort that you’d otherwise have used trying to get it done manually.
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Text comparison can be a daunting task especially if you’re doing it manually. With these 15 best text comparison tools, you can quickly and easily compare text or documents no matter the use case.
Give any of them a trial and see which one best fits your needs.
Scott L. Macarthur is a marketing consultant and an online author. He is mostly engaged in providing his expertise to startups and SMBs. He is also an author on TheNextWeb.