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New Comparison

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New Comparison toolbar button

Spawn a dialog box to select files and directories to compare or merge.

File and Directory Comparison

When Compare Files or Compare Directories is selected at the top, the Compare dialog uses the Compare layout:

Compare dialog

This dialog box has many convenient features. The two combo boxes hold names and paths of files and directories previously compared. You can drag-and-drop files and directories from Windows Explorer into the dialog box making it much easier to enter the appropriate paths and file names. You can also browse for files and directories using the browse buttons.

The Quick Options button allows changing some frequently used options directly from the Compare dialog, without opening the Options screen and its multiple pages.

The Compare dialog also has an Autopick feature: whenever you choose a file (or directory) that you have compared before as the first item to compare, the second item automatically changes to the last one you compared the first item to. For example, if you compare test1 to test2, then the next time you choose test1 as the first file, ExamDiff Pro will remember and automatically switch the second file to test2.

If you don't specify one file's directory, ExamDiff Pro will use the other file's directory to start a comparison. For example, selecting c:\test\a.txt and b.txt will compare c:\test\a.txt with c:\test\b.txt. If a directory name is provided instead of a file name, ExamDiff Pro will use the other file name. E.g., you can select c:\test\a.txt and c:\test2 (where c:\test2 is a directory), and the software will compare c:\test\a.txt with c:\test2\a.txt.

To delete a file/directory name from a list, highlight it and press Delete. This feature also applies to all other combo-boxes within ExamDiff Pro.

When specifying a file or directory, you can use an environment variable, such as %WINDIR%.

For file comparison, the current Clipboard contents can be selected by using an appropriate button to the right from the file name text field. This will make ExamDiff Pro compare a file against Clipboard contents, or compare two Clipboard fragments (if you select a text fragment to Clipboard, then press the first Clipboard button (or use the Ctrl + 1 keyboard shortcut), then select another text fragment, then press the second Clipboard button (or use the Ctrl + 2 shortcut). When a clipboard text is selected, hover your mouse over the selected item edit control to see a preview of the selected clipboard contents.

Browsing for a file in file comparison mode allows you to select the encoding to open the file with (ANSI, Unicode (little or big endian), or UTF-8)), as well as choosing a comparison plug-in that will be used for the file during its comparison.

For directory comparison, a snapshot file, a file list (Master edition only), and archive, or other file can be specified instead of a real directory. Note that in order to compare files other than snapshots or file lists against directories, a conversion plug-in is needed (the default installation of ExamDiff Pro includes ZIP and JAR/WAR/EAR extracting plugins). Note also that all directory editing features (delete, rename etc.) will be disabled if at least one of compared directories is a snapshot.

File lists are text files that contain paths of files/directories, for example:

#File List One
Note that you can include comments in these list files by using the "#" character at the start of each line.

File/directory names can be prefixed by plug-in names followed by > separator (such plug-ins are referred to as inline plug-ins). The plug-in name has to be one of those listed in Plug-in Options. For example, assuming that Sort is the name of a plug-in, the following name will cause the Sort plug-in to be used for file list.txtSort>list.txt. Also note that when inline plug-ins are used, file/directory names are not inspected for existence.

With comparison plug-ins installed, you can also type URLs directly into the name combo boxes, such as, or

Text Merge (Master edition only)

When Merge Files is selected at the top, the Compare dialog uses the Merge layout:

Merge layout of Compare dialog

In three-way merge, three files are compared - a base file and two revision files ("yours" and "theirs") that are both modifications of the base - and the goal is to reconcile the changes made in the revision files into an output file. In addition to the left ("theirs"), center ("base"), and right ("yours") files, an optional output file can be specified to store the results of the merge operation. If no output file is specified, the merge pane will be populated with merge results that can be saved to a file.

Autopick works slightly differently in the Merge layout: if the left file has been merged before, both the center file and the right file that it was last merged with are picked by default.

The Swap command swaps the Left and the Right files in the Merge layout.

Aside from these exceptions, the dialog functions similarly to how it does in the Compare layout.

Compare Dialog Commands

The following commands are available in the Compare dialog:
  • Compare
    Compare selected files or directories. Use the drop-down command menu to force text, binary, or table comparison. By default, for files that are registered as table types, the table comparison mode is used. Otherwise, this mode is disabled, and the default choice between text/binary modes is defined in the Force text/binary file comparison section of Options | Text Comparison | Advanced.

  • Merge
    Merge selected files or directories.

  • Empty Files
    Open ExamDiff Pro with empty text file panes. This is useful to compare two text fragments by either typing text or pasting it into ExamDiff Pro editable text panes.

  • Options
    Change comparison options. If sessions (see below) are used, options saved will be applied to the selected session.

  • Swap
    Swap files or directories selected for comparison, or swap the Left and the Right files in the Merge layout.

  • Cancel
    Exit the dialog without comparison.

If the Show sessions option is disabled, the unnamed default session will be used.

If the Show sessions option is enabled, the session combo box that contains auto sessions becomes visible. The following session management commands are available (when the arrow button on the right of the combo box is clicked; for modified session the arrow becomes red):

  • New Session
    Create a new session, optionally by cloning an existing one.

  • Save Session
    Sessions are saved whenever the Compare button on the Compare Dialog is used. Alternatively, you can use this command to save the current session without comparison, and move on to modifying another session.

  • Delete Session
    Delete the selected session.

  • Rename Session
    Rename the selected session.

  • Copy Session
    Copy one session to another.

  • Save Session to File
    Save the selected session to a session file.

  • Load Session From File
    Load a session from a session file and set it as the current session.

Run in new instance option appears if a new comparison is started after a previous one is finished, and it allows to start the new session in a new instance of ExamDiff Pro.

Diff only option is only available in file merge mode. It allows to use the three-way diff feature without having to merge to an output file. When this option is enabled, the merge pane is not visible, and merge commands are disabled.