WinMerge is an excellent and very powerful file merging tool, but as the name would imply, it's Windows only. What's a good equivalent on the Mac?

16 Answers 16


You can use FileMerge, Apple's diff solution. It's free and it comes with every Mac OS X install.
The only downside is that you have to install the Developer Tools. You can find them on your DVD install that came when you bought your Mac (Snow Leopard or earlier). You can also get the developer tools from the App Store if your version of the OS supports that.

Then, you can find it at /Developer/Applications/Utilities/FileMerge.app

  • You need to have the Developer tools to have that, so if you don’t have them (and don’t want to have them), try DiffMerge as suggested in the other answer. – Martin Marconcini Nov 3 '10 at 4:33
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    After using FileMerge and DiffMerge, i found FileMerge a better tool, especially for folder comparisons. But both are no way close to WinMerge. – Murukesh Jul 3 '12 at 7:06
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    On my setup, it was located at /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Applications/FileMerge.app – Benoit Duffez Sep 4 '12 at 17:43
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    Agreed. FileMerge is nothing close to WinMerge. – Jonny Apr 30 '13 at 1:15
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    @bobobobo FileMerge is excellent; I don't know why you're calling it poor. I've never found a diff tool that I like nearly as much (and DiffMerge is so ugly I wanted to claw my eyes out when I tried it). The only time I've seen behavior such as you're talking about is when it's dealing with newline incompatibilities. – Marnen Laibow-Koser Mar 24 '14 at 0:11

I've found the following applications:

See also:

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    I would upvote this one a few times if I could. Never knew that TextWrangler could compare files. – LarsH Sep 11 '14 at 22:48
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    opendiff gives me the following error: xcode-select: error: tool 'opendiff' requires Xcode, but active developer directory '/Library/Developer/CommandLineTools' is a command line tools instance – Pieter Nov 29 '15 at 15:35
  • @Pieter So you've to install XCode then as per error. Check this or Google the issue. – kenorb Nov 29 '15 at 18:32
  • I was under the impression that I only needed the Xcode Command Line Tools, but okay. – Pieter Nov 30 '15 at 19:08
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    kdiff3 is no longer in brew, probably because it has not been developed/updated since 2014. – wisbucky Feb 27 '18 at 23:36

Agree with the recommendation for FileMerge.app. You also have the free, cross-platform DiffMerge program, but I like FileMerge better.

  • DiffMerge is not as good as Windiff. It compares only files. You cannot just copy,paste and compare contents. – Kannan Ramamoorthy Aug 17 '17 at 6:39
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    DiffMerge is no longer developed/updated since 2013. – wisbucky Feb 27 '18 at 23:32

Stumbled upon this thread today and thought I'd contribute this new cross-platform OSS diff tool that supports file and directory comparision. It is a good alternative to WinMerge for Mac. http://meldmerge.org/

Meld is a visual diff and merge tool targeted at developers. Meld helps you compare files, directories, and version controlled projects. It provides two- and three-way comparison of both files and directories, and has support for many popular version control systems.

Meld helps you review code changes and understand patches. It might even help you to figure out what is going on in that merge you keep avoiding.

  • Thanks for posting an answer, digger69! Can you please add a little more information about Meld? How does it solve the OP's question? Thank you! – daviesgeek May 2 '12 at 20:42
  • I can't get it to run, and it needs pygtk and uses uncommon xz compression format. – lulalala Jul 11 '12 at 7:28
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    You can install it with HomeBrew ( github.com/mxcl/homebrew ) brew install meld – sventechie Apr 19 '13 at 22:25
  • FileMerge is far more capable and visually attractive than Meld (which has, for example, no good diff3 view). There is no reason at all to use Meld on Mac OS. – Marnen Laibow-Koser Mar 23 '14 at 23:56
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    The way to install meld currently (as of 2017) is: brew tap caskroom/cask; brew cask install meld. It is now bundled as an OSX application and does not require any additional packages. – wisbucky Feb 27 '18 at 23:38

A modern, powerful, but paid (currently Mar-2013 $69.99) file merging application for OS X is Kaleidoscope. It handles folders, files, and even images. Ad copy from the page:

Compare text in Blocks, Fluid and Unified layouts in both Two-Way and Three-Way modes. Quickly navigate and search through the most readable diff you've ever seen.

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    Not that great, not for the price, which is now about $100 CAD. It is missing a number of features and it can often hang totally on big files. To the point where I (once )had to power off the machine via the power switch because I couldn't bring up the Force Quit dialog. That same file, run through GNU diff? Less than 3 seconds to return results. When it works, it works well, but it doesn't always. Also, it is really quite naive at recognizing blocks of moved text. – JL Peyret Jul 9 '18 at 21:42

Araxis Merge (http://www.araxis.com/merge_mac/index.html) is the gold standard in this area and has a similar cost (what is the weight of bits?). There are Windows and Mac versions, and it is truly excellent if you find yourself spending a lot of time doing multiway diffs and merges (more common in these days of distributed version control systems).

The pricing starts (as of Sept 2011) at $129.

  • Why pay so much when excellent free tools exist? – Marnen Laibow-Koser Mar 24 '14 at 0:13
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    To keep the response up to date, I'll start with the link: araxis.com/merge/index.en but basically, you can compare more than just 2-way text files. – Art Taylor Mar 24 '14 at 6:16
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    FileMerge does excellent 3-way diffs. P4Merge does comparisons on some binary files (not a feature I need much, though). Both are free. – Marnen Laibow-Koser Mar 25 '14 at 17:16

Maybe you will find the app SourceTree interesting: http://www.sourcetreeapp.com/ SourceTree is a free Mac client for Git and Mercurial version control systems. Therefor it isn't a general purpose diff or merge tool but it is worth mentioning it.

  • "SourceTree is a free Mac client for Git and Mercurial version control systems". Sounds nice, but does it include a diff/merge for any file? – parsley72 Nov 12 '12 at 0:19
  • It does include a diff/merge tool. – sventechie Apr 19 '13 at 22:26

Beyond Compare is now in beta for the Mac. It's the best diff/merge program I’ve used on Windows and is definitely worth checking out.



Perforce, a source control application, has a free * diff and merge tool that is cross platform and works fine on my mac. It's called P4Merge.


It presents file-diffs very nicely and handles three-way merges like a champ. As a long-time WinMerge user I was very happy with it. Its use of little gem-like icons in a 3-way merge takes some getting used to. One icon is for my change, one for their's, and one for the common ancestor. Once you get that straight it was very helpful.

* it was free, but may now be subject to Perforce's licensing. Perforce in-general is restricted to a certain number of users and/or files unless you buy it. However, these restrictions only make sense when using their server-side software. These client-only tools can't really be licensed like that. I'll update if I ever hear back from the company on this matter.


There's an application called SemanticMerge for Mac.

SemanticMerge, as the name says :-), is a tool able to merge based on code structure instead of blocks of text. It basically means it parses the code first and then merges based on methods, classes and so on, so it is quite refactor friendly since it can match methods/functions even when they've been moved to different locations within the file.

At the time of writing this, Semantic supports .NET, C, Java, C++ and JavaScript.

  • Sounds great but link is dead – Vladimir Apr 1 '16 at 5:26

I am a Mac user attached to elegance and esthetics as a significant factor in productivity for cognitive reasons. A fully native and elegant Human Interface is for me of paramount importance.

I tried many contenders (Araxis, P4Merge and many others). I purchased several. I loved Changes for a long while. Now my favorite is Kaleidoscope. It provides 3-way merge, it can compare images in a smart way, it has a slick and elegant interface.

When an application claims to be cross-platform, that rings an alarm bell. More often than not, it means an ugly, non-native interface. Having to cringe when working is not my idea of having fun at work.

  • "Cross-platform" doesn't necessarily mean an ugly non-native interface. There are enough widget libraries out there that look sensible on multiple OSes that it's pretty easy for developers to make nice-looking cross-platform applications. Frankly, I prefer cross-platform applications (other things being equal) because I don't want to lock myself into one OS. – Marnen Laibow-Koser Mar 24 '14 at 0:03
  • You don't disagree. I wrote "More often than not". It is my experience that cross-platform apps "more often than not" fail to feel native. "look sensible" is easy, but far from enough. I prefer native apps, despite the risk of lock in, because frankly, I don't want to spend many hours cringing every step of the way because of the uncanny valley an app has dug itself in, by trying, but mostly failing, to feel native while staying cross platform. An example of such an (otherwise excellent) application is YNAB. – Jean-Denis Muys Mar 30 '14 at 12:27
  • Then yes, I do disagree. Some cross-platform apps do fail to look native, but more often than not, I believe they do look native. Because the good ones look native, you don't notice them, so only the bad ones come to your notice. – Marnen Laibow-Koser Apr 1 '14 at 16:40
  • I suppose I haven't come across the same cross-platform applications as you have. I gave you an example. What would be a good example of a really native cross-platform application? Transmission perhaps, which I agree does really feels fully native. Back to the topic at hand. I know of no cross-platform compare/diff app that feels really native on the Mac. – Jean-Denis Muys Apr 3 '14 at 8:41
  • Chrome and Firefox (and other XUL apps like Zotero and KomodoEdit) are great examples of cross-platform applications that truly feel Mac-like. Frescobaldi is surprisingly good in this respect as well, particularly considering that it's a Python application (I guess it uses a widget library that has a good Mac skin). SublimeText is another example; it doesn't exactly have a "standard" Mac-style interface, but it certainly feels native. – Marnen Laibow-Koser Apr 3 '14 at 16:50

Meld is a good option..

steps to install meld on Mac :

  1. Install MacPorts:

    Installation information can be found in : MacPort installation Before installing MacPort, you have to install Xcode and the Xcode Command Line Tools if your computer doesn't have them.

  2. Open your terminal and execute following commands

    i) Installing rarian : "sudo port install rarian"
    II) Installing meld : "sued port install meld"

  3. Configure the dbus service to start at boot

    I) sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.freedesktop.dbus-system.plist
    II) launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchAgents/org.freedesktop.dbus-session.plistdf

  4. Add LC_ALL variable to the .bash_profile file at your /home directory export LC_ALL=en_US

  5. Type meld command in the terminal and the application will be launched for you.


  • Could you explain how it's installed rather than just posting a link? – Jash Jacob Nov 20 '14 at 10:02
  • These instructions are now obsolete. All you have to do now is: brew tap caskroom/cask; brew cask install meld – wisbucky Feb 27 '18 at 23:42

I use VisualDiffer.

It's not as good as WinMerge, but pretty close and very cheap (only $34.99 at the moment!). It is promising.

Here's a screenshot.

VisualDiffer screenshot

  • Still using this on a daily basis 2 years later. I recommend. – Jonny Mar 18 '15 at 2:25

Changes - http://connectedflow.com/changes/

  • Welcome to Ask Different, Jordan! Thanks for posting an answer! Can you please add more information about Changes? How does it answer the OP's question? Answers need to be more than links and need to answer the OP's question specifically. – daviesgeek Apr 27 '12 at 18:32
  • Looks like that link no longer works. – Sam Jan 2 '19 at 4:05

My favorite free solution for merging the contents of files is KDiff3. KDiff3 can do two-way and three-way merges, has a decent GUI and has some pretty powerful features to assist with the merge.

My favorite non-free, but inexpensive ($30-ish) solution for merging the contents of files is Beyond Compare 3. Yes, Beyond Compare 3 is only available as a native Windows or Linux app, but I run it in WiNE via the easy to use Wineskin Winery app.

When it comes to merging the content of directories both KDiff3 and Beyond Compare 3 can do it, but IMO KDiff3 is not very usable in this regard. Fortunately Beyond Compare 3 excels at directory merges, even on OS X.


Seems like there were plans to make WinMerge 3 available for Mac too:

I haven't made my choice for Mac. But on Windows I use WinMerge, on Linux Meld (which is also available for Mac), currently using twdiff, I already tried FileMerge.app, and going to try DiffMerge.

A note about Meld:

Meld does work on OS X and Windows, but there are no all-in-one packages for those systems available at the moment. On OS X, Meld is available from MacPorts or Fink.

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    No updates in repository since 2011. WinMerge 3 is dead? bitbucket.org/grimmdp/winmerge – Jonny Apr 30 '13 at 1:20
  • Meld is bundled for OSX now. brew tap caskroom/cask; brew cask install meld – wisbucky Feb 27 '18 at 23:43

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