How To compare two text files using Notepad++

If you’ve ever needed to compare two text files you’ll know it can be tedious – but what you may not know is Notepad++ can do this, and do it quite well.

If you’re not already familiar with Notepad++, it is a text editor designed for coding. Amongst it’s many benefits, this small piece of software has big features, such as allowing you to view code with colour styling and line numbers to make the code easier to read and debug.

How to compare two text files using Notepad++

These instructions have been written for Notepad++ v6.3.

  1. Open Notepad++
  2. Click on the ‘Plugins’ menu at the top of the screen
  3. Click on ‘Plugin Manager’ then ‘Show Plugin Manager’
  4. A list of available plugins will appear – if it does not you need to check your Internet connection. If you are behind a proxy server you will need to enter the details in the ‘Settings’ section (button at the bottom left of window).
  5. NotepadPlus-CompareText1
  6. Scroll down until you see ‘Compare’
  7. Place a tick next to the name then click on the ‘Install’ button
  8. NotepadPlus-CompareText2
  9. Once the plugin is installed you will be prompted to restart Notepad++
  10. Click ‘Yes’ to finish the install.
  11. Now that the plugin has been installed, open two files
  12. Click on the ‘Plugins’ menu then ‘Compare’ and ‘Compare’ again
  13. The files will be displayed, side by side, with the differences highlighted
  14. NotepadPlus-CompareText3

 Please note: it helps to keep the ‘old’ copy of your file on the left and the ‘new’ on the right – this should help with understanding how the plugin shows the difference between files.

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