Over time, a hard disk can become an organizational disaster. Files get moved and folder structures are revamped. Depending on the type of work you do, you may also create multiple versions of a file. If you’ve ever looked at a couple of files and wondered if they are the same, you don’t have to laboriously read through them to check. A number of free software products exist that will let you compare files:
- Diff Doc: http://www.softinterface.com/MD/Document-Comparison-Software.htm
- CSDiff: http://www.componentsoftware.com/Products/CSDiff/highlights.htm
- WinMerge: http://winmerge.org
If the mystery files are both Microsoft Word files, you also can use the Compare and Merge feature that is built into Word to figure out the differences for you. Open a document and then choose Tools|Compare and Merge. Find the document that you want to compare to the document you already have open. Now you can click the arrow next to Merge and select from Merge, Merge into current document, or Merge into new document.
Word shows the differences between the two documents as tracked changes. Little balloons show insertions, deletions, or formatting changes. If you click Merge, the changes from the document that was open first are shown in the document you selected in the dialog box. If you click Merge into current document, the changes are shown in the first document. As the name suggests, if you click Merge into new document, the changes are merged into a new document, showing the differences from both.