How to Compare Two Files in Notepad++

Compare Two Files in Notepad

Notepad++ is a free and open-source text editor that is widely used for programming and other tasks involving text manipulation. It is available for Windows operating systems.

One of the useful features of Notepad++ is its ability to compare two files. Comparing files allows you to identify differences between them and make changes accordingly. This is particularly useful when working with large or complex files, such as program code or data files. By comparing files, you can ensure that you are working with the most up-to-date version of a file and that any changes you make are accurate and complete.

Getting Started

A. To compare files in Notepad++, you will first need to download and install the software. You can download the latest version of Notepad++ from the official website ( Follow the installation instructions provided.

B. Once Notepad++ is installed, open the two files you want to compare by selecting “File” from the menu bar, then “Open” and browsing to the location of the files. You can also use the keyboard shortcut “Ctrl+O” to open files. It is recommended that you arrange the two files side by side for easier comparison.

Comparing Files

A. Notepad++ offers a Compare plugin that can be installed to compare files. To install the plugin, go to the “Plugins” menu, select “Plugin Manager” and then “Show Plugin Manager”. Find “Compare” in the list and click “Install”. Once the plugin is installed, select “Plugins” from the menu bar and choose “Compare” to start the comparison process.

B. Another way to compare files is to use the built-in Compare menu option. To access this option, select “Plugins” from the menu bar, then “Compare” and “Compare”. This will open the comparison window with the two files displayed side by side.

C. You can also use keyboard shortcuts to compare files. Press “Alt+D” to open the Compare window or “Ctrl+Alt+C” to start the comparison directly. Once the comparison window is open, you can use the arrow keys to navigate through the differences between the files.

Understanding the Results

A. Notepad++ displays the differences between the two files in a side-by-side view. Differences are highlighted in red for the left file and blue for the right file. The actual differences are displayed in a separate pane at the bottom of the comparison window.

B. Each line in the files is numbered to make it easier to identify changes. The line numbers are displayed in the left-hand column of the comparison window. Notepad++ also provides an overview of the changes in the status bar at the bottom of the window.

C. To mark changes, you can use the “Mark” button in the comparison window. This will add a red circle to the left file and a blue circle to the right file to indicate where changes have occurred. You can also copy changes from one file to the other by selecting the changed lines and using the “Copy” button. This will copy the selected lines to the clipboard, allowing you to paste them into the other file.

Advanced Options

A. Notepad++ allows you to change the comparison settings to suit your needs. To access the settings, select “Plugins” from the menu bar, then “Compare” and “Settings”. From here, you can change options such as how the comparison results are displayed and how whitespace is treated.

B. You can choose to ignore white space and/or case sensitivity when comparing files. This can be useful if you are comparing files with minor differences in formatting or spelling. To access these options, select “Plugins” from the menu bar, then “Compare” and “Ignore Whitespace” or “Ignore Case”.

C. Notepad++ also allows you to filter out certain types of changes when comparing files. For example, you can choose to ignore changes in comments or changes that only involve the position of lines in the file. To access these options, select “Plugins” from the menu bar, then “Compare” and “Filter”. From here, you can select the types of changes to ignore.

Saving Results

A. Once you have compared the two files and marked any changes, you can save the comparison results to a new file. To do this, select “File” from the menu bar and choose “Save As”. In the “Save As” dialog box, select a location and filename for the new file and choose “All Types” from the “Save as type” dropdown menu. Click “Save” to save the comparison results to the new file.

B. Notepad++ also allows you to save a copy of one file with changes from the other. To do this, select the file that you want to copy changes from and use the “Mark” button in the comparison window to mark the changes. Then, select “Edit” from the menu bar and choose “Copy” or use the “Ctrl+C” keyboard shortcut to copy the changes to the clipboard. Next, select the file that you want to apply the changes to and use the “Edit” menu and choose “Paste” or use the “Ctrl+V” keyboard shortcut to paste the changes into the file. Finally, save the changes to the file using the “Save” or “Save As” option in the “File” menu.


A. In summary, to compare two files in Notepad++, you should first download and install the Compare plugin or use the built-in Compare menu option. Once the files are open, you can navigate through the differences, mark changes, and copy them as needed. Notepad++ also offers advanced options for customizing the comparison settings and filtering out certain types of changes. Finally, you can save the comparison results to a new file or apply changes to one of the original files.


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B. To effectively compare files, it is important to carefully review the differences and consider the context in which they occur. It may also be helpful to take notes or create a summary of the changes to keep track of them.

C. The file comparison feature in Notepad++ can be useful in a variety of contexts, such as comparing different versions of code, analyzing changes in text documents, or identifying differences in configuration files. By understanding how to use this feature effectively, you can streamline your workflow and save time when working with files.