This may come as a surprise but it's not that often that I have a need to compare entire folders or projects of code. Most of the time I'm using Subclipse's compare functionality to compare two different versions of the same file. When I do need to perform heavy code comparisons I typically rely on File Merge, a utility that comes with Xcode.

Realizing there are probably much better tools suited to this task I thought I'd reach out to my readers and ask what you use. So, if you're on OS X, fire away and offer up your best suggestion for the most rockin' code compare utility.

Incidentally, for those that are on Windows (I'm sorry), Beyond Compare and WinMerge are the best tools I've seen.

Aaron West's Gravatar
About this post:

This entry was posted by Aaron West on April 5, 2009 at 2:28 PM. It was filed in the following categories: ColdFusion, Subclipse, Mac Programming, Mac. It has been viewed 14054 times and has 17 comments.

17 Responses to Code Compare Tools for OS X - What Do You Use?

  1. Using BeyondCompare via CrossOver.

  2. Thanks for the comment Jesse. I checked out CrossOver and it's not free. I know I didn't mention it in my post but I'd like to find a free solution if possible.

  3. I also use CrossOver. It may not be free, but it works for far more applications than they advertise. Unfortunately you missed the free give away they did last fall.

    Oh, and I never thought to install Beyond Compare (which I already owned) into my CrossOver on my Mac. It works slick!

    The Apple Downloads site has a few options. http://www.apple.com/downloads I found these; Compare Folders, DeltaWalker and Araxis Merge. I have not tried any of these.

  4. My experience has been that this is an area in which OS X lags far behind both Linux and Windows. Here's what I've found:

    1. FileMerge is free as part of the XCode toolkit, but it sucks. Actually, IMO, that's being kind. It's a GUI for OpenDiff, but not one that's done well.
    2. Meld, an open source tool that's actually outstanding on Linux can be installed via MacPorts, but it's not a trivial install and ultimately I found it more trouble than it was worth.
    3. I ended up buying Changes. It's not free (it's not even particularly inexpensive at ~$50), but it's one of those pieces of software that I use often enough and depend on; a good diff tool was worth paying for.

    Would love to know if you find any decent free alternatives.

  5. @WilGeno, @Rob, Thanks for the suggestions gents. I'll see if Changes has a free trial.

  6. Carlos Balacuit

    Araxis Merge for the Mac/Win (not free) works for me. You can do diffs directly against a Perforce or Subversion repository, which has come in handy a couple of times.


    If you're feeling frisky, other free solutions include ediff-mode for GNU emacs, or vimdiff for Vim.

  7. dave

    here is a discount code for changes ( i was going to try it myself when I get back to nashville this week).. $10 off till 4/15 code is: TUAWCHANGES15

  8. @dave - Thanks for the discount code! I might actually try using it here in a moment. I downloaded Changes (which sorta kinda has a trial) and it seems to be very much what I want in a file and directory compare/merge tool.

    It just might make this enormous headache subside a little. You know, the one I have due to working on upgrading this blog from BlogCFC v5.5.005 to 5.9.3.

  9. dave

    no prob :)
    I had a screenie sitting here on my desktop with that I grabbed on fri. If you get it let us know how it works.

    I have been using coda more and more and it looks like it fits right in with it.

    I think I have a free app app that was ok for this too but it's on a external drive back in TN and can't think of the name but set a todo to look for it when i get back tomorrow.

  10. dave

    ya know I remember something else that I swore to remember one time and of course forgot... os x has a built in one, did you know that? It is in the developer tools, not hugely featured but might be enough... here is a screenie with the path and app


    found this one in bookmarks too

  11. I did a bit of a research on this a year of so back and found that Araxis Merge was the best one at that time. I've been using it all this while and it almost provides the same functionality as Beyond Compare on Windows (which I used to use on Windows).

    Had a play with Changes a while back, but couldn't find a compelling reason to switch.

  12. @Everyone I just finished a three hour code compare / merge marathon. Thanks to the Changes app it was a piece of cake!! After finishing the code merge I cruised over to the Changes site, entered the discount code Dave posted and bought the app.

    Even though it seemed to work with no restrictions (perhaps it is a 30-day trial though that isn't shown anywhere) I felt the need to support the developer who built a fantastic app.

    NOTE: I did try Araxis Merge and it wouldn't merge files and directories in one session. You had to choose which type of compare / merge you wanted before you could do anything. That isn't very user friendly in my opinion.

  13. I've found Araxis Merge for Mac to be the best one, but also the priciest.

    Another one not mentioned here before, but that runs fine under OSX, is Syntevo's SmartSynchronize, http://www.syntevo.com/smartsynchronize/features.h... Much more affordable than Merge.

  14. Kal

    I am a little behind one this one, but someone is looking for free solutions
    I use DiffMerge for mac at http://www.sourcegear.com/diffmerge/.
    DiffMerge 3.2 is now available, completely FREE!

  15. rob

    If you install Xcode (comes on the Leopard CD) it will install a utility called "FileMerge". I use that when my eyes hurt from using diff in the terminal :)

    The first couple images from this link is what the application looks like:

    You can find it in /Developer/Applications/Utilities after you install Xcode

  16. @Rob - Did you read my blog post? I mentioned FileMerge and Xcode in this post.

  17. Jennie

    sourcegear diffmerge

    does both diff and merge
    can diff folders and files