WinMerge can be installed using the installer or by unzipping files from an archive. Using the installer is the recommended method.
Currently the WinMerge installer works natively only for 32-bit Windows. There is no separate version of WinMerge for 64-bit Windows (WinXP/2003/Vista/2008/7/8/2012). 64-bit Windows versions can run the installer and WinMerge as 32-bit applications. For the shell Integration, the installer includes the 64-bit version of the extension.
The latest release can be always downloaded from the WinMerge home page: WinMerge.org. Note that delays can occur in updating home pages for the latest releases, but the project status page at SourceForge.net shows the latest files. There is also a mailing list for release announcements. Stable releases are also available in several file download sites.
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:
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 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.
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.
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.
Enables you to launch WinMerge compare operations from Windows Explorer (this integration can be enabled or disabled later in WinMerge options).
Adds the WinMerge installation folder to your system's Path environment variable.
Sets WinMerge to be the TortoiseCVS diff application.
Sets WinMerge to be the TortoiseSVN diff application.
Sets WinMerge to be the ClearCase diff application.
For more information about the three integrations in this list and related WinMerge options, see Using WinMerge with version control systems.
Adds the WinMerge shortcut to your Windows Desktop.
Adds the WinMerge shortcut to the Windows Quick Launch bar.
WinMerge is pretty much independent of other system components. It is not tightly integrated with Windows, and does not use many DLLs.
WinMergeU.exe itself depends on
MSVCP90.dll, in addition to some system DLLs. So if these DLLs
are already installed on a system, only
is needed to run WinMerge. The DLL files listed above are also available as
a downloadable runtime package.
WinMerge 2.6.0 and later versions require a new version of runtime libraries. When you update from older WinMerge versions using archive files, you need the new runtime files from the runtime package.
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,
can rename this folder or copy its files to another folder (preserving the
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.
If you do not use the install program and you want to enable Windows
Explorer shell integration, you must register the shell integration DLL
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
register.bat from the WinMerge directory. We recommend
that you restart the computer after installing shell integration, so that
Windows updates all its references.
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
unregister.bat, as with 32-bit versions.
WinMerge uses 7-Zip for archive support, but the WinMerge installer does not install 7-Zip or archive support. Installing the 7-Zip application is recommended but not required for archive support. The 7-Zip installer is available for downloading from 7-Zip.org.
There are 7-Zip MSI installers that do not install all the files
WinMerge needs (specifically,
WinMerge automatically detects an installed 7-zip in the system, so no configuration is needed.
7-zip integration needs a compatible
file in the WinMerge program directory, where
* is the
7-Zip version installed. For example, 7-Zip version 4.42 requires
Merge7z442.dll. And if
WinMergeU.exe (the Unicode version) is used, then
is also added to filename, as in:
Merge7z442U.dll. If the required DLL file is missing
for any reason, you can copy it to the WinMerge directory, for example from
7z-Plugin archive that is available from the
WinMerge download page.
Merge7z*.dll file is missing, WinMerge
displays a message that includes the name of the missing file and the
recommended version of 7-Zip. You can also display this message by clicking
Merge7zInstaller is a stand-alone installer for
Installer file names may seem strange at first, but there is reason for them: they show the supported versions. The file name is formatted as
XXX is the build number,
YYY is the earliest 7-Zip version supported,
ZZZ is the latest 7-Zip version
means build version 14, support for 7-Zip versions 3.11 to 4.26.
This separate installer is much more flexible, because we can update it whenever 7-Zip is updated, and we don't add files to the base installer that users don't need.
If you want to know immediately when we release new versions, you can monitor our releases. You are then notified through e-mail of new releases when they happen.
Merge7zInstaller is simple:
Start the installer executable.
Select the installation type and the DLL files (supported 7-zip versions) to install:
Copies the 7-Zip plugin files to the system directory so they can be shared between multiple WinMerge installations and other programs using the 7-zip plugin. This is the recommended installation.
Copies the 7-zip plugin files to the program directory. Files are then usable only by that program.
When you choose this option, you must select the executable in the directory where the plugin files are installed. Select the WinMerge executable file when installing to the WinMerge directory.
Also installs the required 7-Zip files to the program's application-specific installation directory. This allows the minimal usable installation of 7-Zip for archive support. You can use this option when the 7-Zip application is not wanted or needed.
This installation type contains only the files needed for WinMerge (or other application) to enable archive support. It does not install the 7-Zip user interface or other related tools or files. After this installation it is not possible to open or create 7-Zip archive files outside of WinMerge.