WinMerge can be installed using the installer or by unzipping files from an archive. Using the installer is the recommended method.
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 TortoiseGIT diff application.
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.
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.
Open WinMerge and using the Shell Integration page in the Options window. In the Options window use the or buttons.