Beyond Compare is published by Scooter Software. Please visit the official site of Beyond Compare where you can install Beyond Compare in about 90 seconds and try it free for 30 days (non-consecutive days actually, so a very long trial period).
A tool that does a lot of different necessary things (photo: Paul Felberbauer at Unsplash.com)
What BC does: Folder comparisons
BC can show you two folders side by side, in great detail. And as you click around in those folders it can open up arcane files with strange formats.
BC can show you a distant folder on a server somewhere, using SFTP and SSH keys.
BC can automatically do your backups.
(Andrew Neel, Unsplash.com)
What BC does: File comparisons
The home screen, reachable anytime by pressing Ctl-T, gives 11 main tools:
Is Beyond Compare for everyone?
I think so.
Initially, for me, BC seemed very arcane and when I played with it I couldn't seem to make it do anything by itself, partly because I didn't have good sample data to feed it. It was easy to get BC running but, like installing Photoshop or Autocad for the first time, BC gave me 100s of menus and nothing to use them on -- super frustrating! I knew millions of people were using it (over 1,000,000 licenses sold), I just couldn't figure out how I could use it. BC made me feel a little dumb.
I am happy to say I got past that. And it was a little like forcing yourself to use Vim: within a few weeks this utility became indespensable. For code and data, BC is like a microscope, a roll of duct tape, and a shop vac...for starters.
Documentation for advanced users
There are many resources for using BC. Powerusers should check out the following authoritative guides:
The topics list to the left is a guide to basic useage, like a missing manual for using Beyond Compare on Excel, jpegs, backups, code review, Git version control, mp3 headers, binary files, Git patches, Windows 10 registry tweeking...
Looking at a chili recipe
So what if you opened up a pair of text files in BC?
We see there are are some blue differences. These are blue, because they are less urgent differences (e.g. blank lines, or capitalization).
Blue differences are unimportant. You can make them disappear completely by clicking this toggle button:
There are also red differences, like bacon versus TVP. Notice that red lines have some yellow letters. These call attention to a letter by letter comparison on each line.