Getting and installing WinMerge

WinMerge can be installed using the installer or by unzipping files from an archive. Using the installer is the recommended method.

1. Getting files

The latest release can be always downloaded from the WinMerge home page: Note that delays can occur in updating home pages for the latest releases, but the project status page at shows the latest files. There is also a mailing list for release announcements. Stable releases are also available in several file download sites.

2. Compatibility

  • WinMerge version 2.16.0 supports Windows XP/2003/Vista/2008/7/8/2012/2014/10/2016 and later. It runs on both 32 bit and 64 bit Windows.

  • WinMerge version 2.14.0 supports Windows XP/2003/Vista/2008/7/8/2012 and later. It runs 32 bit on both 32 bit and 64 bit Windows.

  • WinMerge version 2.12.4 was the last version to support Windows 9x, NT, 2000, and ME.

  • WinMerge is not supported on Windows RT.

3. Using the installer (recommended)

[Note] Note

The installer requires Administrator user privileges in Windows 2000 or newer. If you don't have admin user privileges, you can install WinMerge by unzipping from an archive file (see Installing from an archive).

Using the installer is recommended for most users. The installer prompts for the location where WinMerge is installed. It then installs the files, configures the shell integration, and adds WinMerge to the Start menu. To install WinMerge:

  1. Start the installer executable (usually named WinMerge-version-setup.exe).
  2. Click Next in the Welcome screen.
  3. Click Next in the License Agreement screen.
  4. In the Select Destination Location page, accept the location for WinMerge or, if you choose another location, we recommend that you install WinMerge in its own folder. Click Next.
  5. In the Select Components page, choose one of the preconfigured installations in the top control. We recommend the Typical configuration for most users. The lower box shows all the available components. You can modify the default configuration by checking or unchecking components. For example, if you want to use a WinMerge localization for a different language than English, select the Languages component.

    WinMerge core files

    WinMerge executable, Help, and other needed files. Cannot be unchecked.


    File filter files enable you to narrow the scope of comparisons.


    WinMerge plugins are custom dlls or scriptlets, written in the COM API, that you can use to preprocess data before a comparison.





    Archive Support


    GnuWin32 Patch for Windows



    WinMerge translation files. If you want to configure WinMerge to use a different language than English, expand this item and choose one or more available translations. The installer creates a Languages subfolder in the WinMerge folder, containing a *.po translation file for each of your selections. After installation, you can open WinMerge and change its localization to one of the translation file languages. See Locale support for details.

    Click Next.

  6. In the Select Start Menu Folder page, configure WinMerge shortcuts.

    • Accept the default setting to create a program shortcut, or specify a different folder.

    • Optionally, check the option, Don't create a Start Menu folder.

    Click Next.

  7. In the Select Additional Tasks page, specify any additional tasks:

    Enable Explorer context menu integration

    Enables you to launch WinMerge compare operations from Windows Explorer (this integration can be enabled or disabled later in WinMerge options).

    Add WinMerge folder to your system path

    Adds the WinMerge installation folder to your system's Path environment variable.

    Integrate with TortoiseCVS

    Sets WinMerge to be the TortoiseCVS diff application.

    Integrate with TortoiseSVN

    Sets WinMerge to be the TortoiseSVN diff application.

    Integrate with TortoiseGIT

    Sets WinMerge to be the TortoiseGIT diff application.

    Create a Desktop shortcut

    Adds the WinMerge shortcut to your Windows Desktop.

    Create a Quick Launch shortcut

    Adds the WinMerge shortcut to the Windows Quick Launch bar.

    Click Next.

  8. In the Ready to Install page, verify your install selections. If necessary, click Back to change anything in a previous page. When you are sure that you are ready to proceed, click Install.
  9. After the installer has copied files, the final screen appears. Using the two check boxes, confirm whether the created WinMerge Start menu folder should be opened, and whether the WinMerge application should be started.

4. Installing from an archive

WinMerge is pretty much independent of other system components. It is not tightly integrated with Windows, and does not use many DLLs.

Archive files have the correct folder structure. WinMerge should be unzipped preserving this folder structure in the destination folder. For example, the root folder created under C:\Program Files\ has the name, WinMerge-version (for example, WinMerge-2.6.0). You can rename this folder or copy its files to another folder (preserving the folder structure!).

After the files are unzipped, WinMerge is ready to run! Shell integration and archive integration may need additional steps, as described in the next section.

5. Enabling Windows Explorer shell integration without the installer

If you do not use the install program and you want to enable Windows Explorer shell integration, you must register the shell integration DLL (ShellExtension*.dll) separately.

[Note] Note

Installing shell integration requires Administrator user privileges.

First, uninstall the current shell integration version by running unregister.bat from the WinMerge directory. Then restart the computer so that Windows completes the uninstall.

To register the shell integration DLL (ShellExtension*.dll), run register.bat from the WinMerge directory. We recommend that you restart the computer after installing shell integration, so that Windows updates all its references.

5.1. 64-bit Windows Explorer shell integration

Starting with Version 2.6, WinMerge supports Windows Explorer shell integration for 64-bit Windows versions. The WinMerge installer recognizes the 64-bit versions of Windows and can install the correct shell integration.

When you install shell integration manually from an archive file, the shell integration DLL is named ShellExtensionX64.dll. You can register and unregister this file by using register.bat and unregister.bat, as with 32-bit versions.