The Official List of OS X File/Folder Comparison Software

Since July 2007, when I switched from Windows to Mac (OS X) I’ve been looking for something to replace one of my favorite Windows tools, BeyondCompare 2.x. I use BC for work and to keep directories synchronized for myself. It wasn’t until MacUpdate Promo (daily OS X deals site) DeltaWare on 21 Nov 08 that I found out about it. I guess I should have looked harder. To help others like me and keep them from wasting months or years of their lives without a file/folder comparison tool, I decided to make a list of all the tools out there. If I missed one, please let me know and I’ll gladly update my list.

This list documents my own experiences and opinions. They’re not necessarily the experiences or opinions of anyone else.

I’m not including terminal-based tools like diff.

[] Eventually I may make this into a matrix.


#1 DeltaWalker <br>Highly Recommended!

Platforms: OS X, Windows, Linux UI: Java/Eclipse SWT, so it uses native OS X controls in OS X, making for a natural look and feel for any OS X user. Even supports Default Folder X since it uses native controls. Pros: Comfortable, full-featured, easy to use and learn, easy on the eyes, affordable, multiple platforms, three-way comparison/merge Support: World class support. Fast, professional, smart, friendly. Cons: None. Price: $39.95 for Personal edition Stars: ***** (five of five)

Araxis Merge

Platforms: OS X, Windows (Java) UI: Probably SWT Pros: Full-featured, multiple platforms Cons: Expensive, less comfortable to use (subjective) and harder on the eyes than DeltaWalker, three-way comparison/merge. Expensive. Did I mention expensive? Support: No experience with their support Price: $129 for Standard Edition Stars: *** (three of five)

UltraCompare (Added to this list 25 January 2012)

Platforms: OS X (still in beta on 25 January 2012), Windows, Linux. I’m only referring to the OS X version here; I have not used the Windows or Linux versions. This comparison tool shows promise. I certainly prefer its UI to Araxis Merge, at least at first blush.
Pros:  Attractive-looking. Unlike UltraEdit for OS X, the controls seem native to OS X. (I love UltraEdit for Windows, but I did not take to UltraEdit for OS X at all, particularly due to to just hating its look and feel.)
Cons:  Tried using it (a beta, mind you) to compare two directories full of files. Dozens of modified files and a few subdirs. It was very laggy just scrolling around in that directory comparison view, so I got fed up and switched back to DeltaWalker 1.9.8, which was zippy with the same directory comparison.
Price: I don’t know yet (still in beta)
Stars: *** (three of five) — but this is preliminary as it’s based on a beta version.


Summary: I don’t know why someone would choose this over DeltaWalker. Platforms: OS X, Windows, Linux, Java native Pros: I haven’t evaluated it as its interface was not appealing to me. Multiple platforms. Cons: Interface not appealing to me, expensive. Support: No experience with their support Price: $66 Stars: Insufficient data


Summary: Free, underfeatured, lacks polish. Okay if you’re on a serious budget and don’t mind a more Linux look than OS X. Not for someone who wants the best tools and attractive user interfaces.


Summary: Not yet worth its low price. Platform: OS X UI: Native Pros: Low price. But same price as DeltaWalker Personal without DeltaWalker’s awesomeness. Cons: Folder interface turned me off and was hard to use. Top bar was instantly uncomfortable. Folder comparison interface turned me off immediately and this never wore off. Support: No experience with their support Price: $39.95 Stars: ** (two of five)


Summary: Weak, underfeatured, no folder comparison support, free. You get what you pay for. Comes with OS X. Stars: * (one of five, the lowest possible score)

Compare Folders (Added to this list 15 September 2009)

Summary: Haven’t tested it. Saw it mentioned by a MacUpdate Promo commenter today, 15 September 2009. Platform: OS X UI: Native Pros: No data Cons: No data Support: No data Price: $24.95 Stars: No data


Updated 25 January 2012 to mention the newly released UltraCompare for OS X

I won the MacUpdate Promo today

Placing a comment on MacUpdate Promo for Dejal BlogAssist, I was chosen randomly to get today’s free license. Cool! I’d just bought it myself moments earlier so I gifted the license for Christmas to SWL.

DeltaWalker: Affordable and comfortable OS X file and folder comparison! Finally!

Today’s MacUpdate PromoDeltaWalker — is a breath of fresh air! A reasonable and comfortable replacement for BeyondCompare for OS X, without the exorbitant price of Araxis Merge that kept me from even bothering to review it when I first found it some time ago. I didn’t evaluate it until today — and that was just to compare with DeltaWalker so I was making the most informed decision (to buy DeltaWalker) possible.

So now I’ve evaluated DeltaWalker, Araxis Merge, FileMerge, Changes and DiffMerge. I’ve never evaluated Guiffy as it just never looked appealing interface-wise.

I’m a longtime and heavy user of BeyondCompare 2.x in Windows. For me, BeyondCompare is the gold standard of file/folder comparison apps but it is Windows-only and I only use Windows for work — and, even then, only when I must. Like when I need BeyondCompare.

My Needs
Folder comparison is a must. File comparison is also a must. I’m particular about having a certain feature set and DeltaWalker fit the bill so I bought it via this promo today.

Great Support
I got a prompt response from Deltopia support today asking about Word doc comparison support (Araxis Merge has a filter that strips the text out of Word docs so they can be compared.) Deltopia support told me they’ve already started on Word and PDF comparison support and that they’ll definitely have it out by the end of this year (2008). That broke the approximate tie (ignoring price momentarily) between DeltaWalker and Araxis Merge.

Deltopia support has been consistently prompt, professional and even friendly. And it seems from all the reviews I’ve read, my experience is the norm. As a support professional I can comfortably say that Deltopia provides world class support. The kind of support you’d put up with merely passable software for — but with these guys, you don’t have to make that compromise.

User Interface Comfort
Although Araxis Merge uses native OS X controls and DeltaWalker is apparently a Java app or uses some other toolkit I’m not familiar with (the controls and icons didn’t ring a bell), I was surprised that I found DeltaWalker instantly and consistently more comfortable than Araxis Merge.
So in the end it came down to more than just Araxis’ huge price vs. the more reasonable DeltaWalker Personal price: I actually was more comfortable inside DeltaWalker.

The Other Tools
The other tools I’ve evaluated didn’t come close to the top two, DeltaWalker and Araxis Merge. And DeltaWalker gets my money, without hesitation.

Fanboy? Nope, Just Lucky
If this review seems over the top, please give my other reviews a read. I know when I’ve found a gem — and Deltopia gets it all right: Features, interface, documentation and support/service.