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My favorite file comparison tool was Beyond Compare but since I recently switched to OS X, i'm no longer able to use it and I'm looking for an alternative, preferably a free one.

Update: I made the mistake not to specify that I am also looking for a tool that does directory comparison, not only files. Because this could make the already answers invalid I made another question for this What directory comparison tools can I use on OS X?

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See my answer to your other question. Ditto anthonyg's recommendation. –  JRobert Mar 15 '11 at 12:58

15 Answers 15

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Beyond Compare 4 now runs also on OSX. Visit http://www.scootersoftware.com/beta.php?zz=beta4_whatsnew

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This is an aggregation of the answers posted on SO's deleted clone, Graphical diff for Mac OS X. It includes links to each product, and the current price since last edit in USD.

Note that any links to SO will only be visible to users who can view deleted content, which requires either moderator privileges or 10k reputation on that site.

There were some other suggestions, which were not diff tools in their own right, which I will list below:

That about wraps up that thread's merge into this one, as covered here.

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For anyone using MacPorts kdiff3, meld, tkdiff, listed above, as well as xxdiff are all available through port install. –  Ioannis Filippidis Jul 29 '13 at 23:33
I tried meld via Macports and a huge number of dependencies were required. I have since shifted to using TextWrangler's diff. This does directory comparisons and you can merge changes line by line. It doesn't do three way compare though. –  Jason S Dec 1 '13 at 6:25
FWIW meld is also available via brew. brew install meld. –  commadelimited Feb 11 '14 at 19:28
P4Merge is free, very nice, can be used as both a diff and merge too, doesn't need to be downloaded with a perforce client anymore, and can even visually diff images! Download here –  Brad Parks Dec 9 '14 at 14:51

FileMerge is bundled with XCode, but I prefer Kaleidoscope which is not free.

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To find FileMerge (assuming you have XCode) ...start up Xcode and choose 'Xcode' menu -> Open Developer Tool -> FileMerge. Or you can avoid starting up XCode by poking around in /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Applications/FileMerge.app –  Harry Wood Nov 29 '13 at 13:28
When Harry Wood says "poking around" he means typing in the terminal: open /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Applications/FileMerge.app –  Roberto Apr 14 '14 at 19:43
@Roberto or via Finder -> Go -> Go to folder... (Cmd+Shift+G) –  nuc Jun 12 '14 at 22:57
Actually the way I tend to "poke around" is... right click on 'Xcode.app' -> 'Show Package Contents' –  Harry Wood Aug 13 '14 at 13:27
@HarryWood @Roberto you can open filemerge from console without needing to poke around: opendiff file1 file2 –  WickyNilliams Dec 17 '14 at 15:09

I use Kaleidoscope. Or just plain, old diff from the CLI

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It is not great, but the FileMerge bundled with the OS can be launched from the command line as opendiff a.txt b.txt.

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this saves my day. Thanks @thilo –  leon Jul 26 '14 at 2:29

DiffMerge from Sourcegear is simple and free.

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It looks to be much better than the FileMerge from XCode, thanks. –  sorin Mar 16 '11 at 17:25

Changes.app has a great reputation and lots of features. Kaleidoscope is great too, and has a beautifully designed UI.

It's also worth mentioning if you're doing programming that Xcode 4 has visual diff tools built in now too.

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+1 for Changes.app Is the only one with a GUI which you can ignore both leading and trailing whitespaces.. –  nuc May 2 '13 at 7:13
Changes was acquired by BitBQ in October of 2012. The latest link for changes is: bitbq.com/changes –  Matthieu Cormier Nov 30 '13 at 12:23

You can use diff if you're using the command-line.

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There's also DeltaWalker.

It's $40, and there's a trial available.

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There are a great many comparison tools available. Many do directories and files. Some even perform as merge tools (2 and 3 way). Of these some have already been mentioned in other answers and your choice will depend on what features you require, and how much you are prepared to pay for the tool. There is a good Wikipedia page with a comparison of many of the better known ones.

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I use Folder Sync It costs $8.99 on the Mac App Store. It works really nicely.

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Here are which I've found:

  • FileMerge (opendiff)

    It's bundled with Xcode with Command Line Tools installed

  • DiffMerge It's bundled with Xcode with Command Line Tools installed

  • vimdiff

    It's free and open source. Install by: brew install vim.

  • Meld

    Can be installed using Homebrew via command: brew install meld, but probably it won't work.

  • KDiff3

    Can be installed using Homebrew via command: brew install kdiff3

  • TkDiff

    Can be installed using Homebrew via command: brew install tkdiff

  • TextWrangler

  • VisualDiffer

    Available at App Store

  • Kaleidoscope

    Commercial with free trial.

  • Araxis Merge

    Commercial with free trial.

  • Changes

    Commercial with free trial.

Check also Comparison of file comparison tools at Wikipedia for the full list.

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P4Merge is a free, very nice diff and merge tool. It can:

  • Diff files
  • Do 3 way merges
  • Do Folder diffs
  • Visually diff 2 image files!

Download it here for Mac and Linux

Some screenshots:

enter image description here

Visual diff of an image: enter image description here

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This tool https://filecomparisontool.com

  1. Web based, so it is compatible
  2. Mobile friendly
  3. Save comparison up to 6 months
  4. Share comparison via URL
  5. It is free!
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vim also has built-in support for side-by-side diff -

vim -d file1 file2

Here is a page describing vim diff mode in detail -


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