Here is a complete guide showing different methods to compare two folders on your Windows 11/10 PC. If you have two or more identical folders and want to find out the differences between the two, this post will help you find out the differences as well as similarities between the folders. You can even compare three folders using some methods.
How to compare two Folders in Windows 11/10?
Here are the different methods using which you can compare two folders on your Windows 11/10 PC:
- Compare two folders using Properties.
- Use Command Prompt to compare two folders.
- Compare two folders using PowerShell.
- Use a third-party app to compare folders.
1] Compare two folders using Properties
The easiest way to compare two folders on Windows is to use the Properties dialog window. Windows allow you to check various properties of files and folders using the right-click menu. If you want to compare basic information of two or more folders like size, number of files, number of folders, location, creation date, etc., you can open and compare their Properties windows. Let us check out how.
First, go to the location where the first folder is saved and right-click on it. Next, select the Properties option from the appeared context menu.
Now, please move to the second folder, right-click on it, and choose the Properties option.
After that, keep the two Properties windows side by side and compare several statistics of both folders.
2] Use Command Prompt to compare two folders
The first method shows the basic differences between the two folders. However, if you want to know what exactly is different in two folders, it won’t work. So, in that case, you can use Command Prompt to find out the differences between folders.
You can compare two folders using Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell by entering the required commands. You can run Windows built-in tool called Robocopy in Command Prompt to easily find out the differences between two folders.
Note: This method will only show the difference between the two main folders and not the sub-folders.
Now, let us check out the steps to compare two folders using Command Prompt:
First, open the Notepad application and type the paths of the two folders that you want to compare.
For that, go to the folder, right-click on it, click on the Copy as path option, and paste the copied path into Notepad.
Now, Command Prompt app as an administrator; click on the taskbar search button, type cmd in the search box, hover the mouse over the Command Prompt app from the results, and click on Run as administrator.
Next, type the below command in CMD:
After that, press Spacebar and type the path to the first folder that you copied in Notepad previously. And then, press Spacebar and type the path of the second folder.
robocopy "D:\TWC" "D:\Writing"
Now, complete the command with /L /NJH /NJS /NP /NS to see the differences between the two folders. Your final command will look something like the below command:
robocopy "D:\TWC" "D:\Writing" /L /NJH /NJS /NP /NS
Once you entered the above command, it will show you the differences between the two folders.
- *EXTRA File: Files present in the second folder, not the first folder.
- New File: Files present in the first folder, not the second one.
- Older: Files are present in both folders, but the creation date of the file in the first folder is older than the same file in the second folder.
- Newer: Files are present in both folders, but the creation date of the file in the first folder is later than the same file in the second folder.
Based on the above parameters, you can analyze the difference between the two folders.
3] Compare two folders using PowerShell
Another method to compare two folders on Windows is using Windows PowerShell. You need to enter a specific command in PowerShell and it will display differences between two folders. Let us check out what that command is.
First, open the Windows PowerShell app using the Windows Search option.
Now, type and enter the below command followed by the path of the first folder:
$fso = Get-ChildItem -Recurse -path "D:\TWC"
In the above command, replace “D:\TWC” with the path of the first folder that you want to compare.
Next, enter another command followed by the second folder that you want to compare. It will look like the command below one:
$fsoBU = Get-ChildItem -Recurse -path "D:\Writing"
Replace “D:\Writing” with your second folder’s path in the above command.
After that, type the below command to show the differences between the pre-specified two folders and press Enter:
Compare-Object -ReferenceObject $fso -DifferenceObject $fsoBU
It will now show you the differences between the two folders, like files present in the first folder but not in the second one, and vice-versa.
The => SideIndicator shows the files appearing in the second folder, not in the first folder. On the other hand, <= SideIndicator shows the files appearing in the first folder only.
4] Use a third-party app to compare folders
You can also use third-party software to compare two folders on Windows. There are various dedicated software that are entirely dedicated to comparing two folders. Here are some good ones that you can use for free:
- Compare Advance
WinMerge is a popular free and open-source differencing and merging software that compares two folders. It also lets you merge the differences between two folders and make them identical. Besides folders, it can also be used for comparing files and documents.
Using this software, you can compare three folders with each other. It also provides various options to customize the folder view, such as Show Identical Items, Show Different Items, Show Binary Files, 3-way Compare, etc. It also lets you view and compare folder statistics like the number of subfolders and the number of files.
You can also generate a comparison report in CSV, HTML, XML, or Text format. For that, click on the Tools menu and select the Generate Report option.
Let us now check out the steps to compare folders in this software.
First, you need to download and install WinMerge from its official website, and then open the main GUI of this software.
Next, click on the Open button from its toolbar.
After that, browse and select the first folder, second folder, and third folder (optional) that you want to compare.
At last, press the Compare button and it will display the differences between the folders, You can see the files present in the first folder only, the files present in the second folder only, the creation date, etc.
In case you want to merge the differences, you can use the Merge menu options to do so.
B] Compare Advance
Another free software that you can use to compare two folders is Compare Advance. Not just finds differences between two folders, but it also lets you synchronize files and folders between two computers. Let us see how you can use this software.
First, launch the software and enter the path of the first folder under the Folder 1 section in the left-side pane. Next, browse and select the second folder under the Folder 2 section. Once done, press the Compare button and it will show you the differences between the two selected folders in the right-side panel.
It shows the differences in different tabs including the following:
- Folder 1 only: Files and folders present in the first folder only.
- Folder 2 only: Files and folders present in the second folder only.
- Same: Same files between the two folders.
- Different: Files that are different.
The basic folder statistics are also shown in the left-side pane under the Statistics section. You can also use the Sync feature to synchronize the content between the two folders that you compared.
If you like it, you can download it from here.
Meld is the next free software to compare two folders on Windows visually. It offers two and a three-way comparison feature to compare up to three files or folders.
Download and install this software, and open it. Now, select the Folder button from its home screen and then choose the first and second folders that you want to compare. If you want to compare three folders, tick the 3-way comparison checkbox and then select the third folder.
Once done, click on the Compare button and it will start scanning the two or three folders for differences and similarities.
All in all, it is a nice and easy-to-use folder compare software.
You can also try MOBZync which is a great folder compare software for Windows 11/10. It is free software that lets you compare two folders on your PC.
As you open this software, you will see its interface divided into two sections. You can add the first folder in the left section and provide the second folder in the right section. It will show you the content of both folders in the respective sections.
To view the comparison between the folders, press the Compare button from its toolbar and it will show you differences like Unchanged files, Newer files, Added files, and Older files.
MOBZync also provides a dedicated Synchronize function using which you can synchronize files between the two folders. You can also copy files from left to right and vice versa.
You can get it from here.
Can Notepad ++ compare folders?
No, Notepad++ doesn’t have an inbuilt feature to compare files or folders. However, there is still a way to compare two files in Notepad++ using a plugin. You can open its Plugins Admin page and install the Compare plugin. Once the plugin is installed, you will be able to open two files and compare them. Although, it won’t let you compare two folders.