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Quickstart: open two directories

Let's take a quick spin through a session of Folder Compare.
Start Beyond Compare. Then start a new session from the pulldown menu: Session->NewSession->FolderCompare.
A pair of blank panels will appear, awaiting your next move.
Now do one of the following:
  • click Beyond Compare's manilla-folder -buttons or
  • you can drag in directories with a mouse, or
  • as shown below, use the context menu in your own filesystem.
To do the third option, open a window of your filesystem, rightclick, in the grey context menu, select Compare. You should see some files and folders open up:

How to understand the display window

The screenshot below shows how our opened folders might look. Notice the tabs. All that you do in Beyond Compare gets saved as a tab and those tabs get saved as a persistant history. If you panic and hit X to close the program right now, your tab will still exist in the menu: session->savedSessions Because BC automatically saved the session.
In your tab view, here are some things to notice.
The columns at (1) can be customized: View->Columns.
The meaning of the colors can be checked at View->Legend.
If you look to the left and the right at (2) are two things called files.png. They have the same name. But are they the same? We can tell that they are different: their size and timestamps are different. Their colors are different (red means older). And the symbol in the middle, not-equal, shows they are different. That symbol in the middle will not appear unless BC checks the file contents. If you are in a big hurry and have a huge set of files, you should disable contents-checking: Session->SessionSettings->Comparison->(uncheck "Compare Contents".
You can toggle (3) between All / Diffs / Same. I recommend keeping it on All in the beginning.
Button (4) is my favorite button. It is magical because it does things unheard of in your built-in file browser. The normal place to keep it is alwaysShowFolders. The magical setting, which flattens the entire tree, and shows only files, is ignoreFolderStructure.
Toggle the tree with (5) expand/collapse.
Peek (6) is a kind of get-out-of-jail card. When you press it, things that became hidden will reappear. Right now it might not do much, but know that later, this is important because once you get good you will start using filters and settings to hide and process parts of your stuff, which will, confusingly, do what it is supposed to: hide your stuff. Toggle the Peek buton to unhide things.

Try doubleclicking a file.

When you doubleclick a file it opens up in a new tab. Beyond Compare can open all sorts of things. In contrast to your normal file system, BC will open everything, from very low level hexadecimal files, Microsoft Word files, PDF's, code files in Python, C++, Delphi...
And even images. Doubleclick a pair of images and you will see something similar to this:
When you double click a pair of jpegs, they open up as images


Most of the rest of this Gitbook is about file comparisons. So if you are one of the many, many users who only use BC for looking at directories, folders, and entire drives, you can skip right now to the last chapter.