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. Stable releases are also available in several file download sites.

2. Compatibility

3. Using the installer (recommended)


The installer requires Administrator user privileges. If you don't have admin user privileges, you can install WinMerge by unzipping from an archive file (see Installing from an archive) or by using per-user installer (WinMerge-x.x.x-x64-PerUser-Setup.exe).

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 License Agreement screen.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

    32-bit WinMerge ShellExtension

    The option enables you to launch WinMerge directly from Windows Explorer, comparing items that you have selected there.


    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.

    Frhed (Free hex editor)

    Frhed enable you to show files in hex format.

    WinIMerge (Image Diff/Merge)

    WinIMerge enables you to show the differences between image files.

    Archive Support

    Install it if you want to compare the files contained in a compressed file without having to decompress them manually.

    GnuWin32 Patch for Windows/HTML Tidy/jq

    Install commands used by plugins.


    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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    Click Next.

  7. In the 3-way merge wizard page, register WinMerge as 3-way merge tool for TortoiseSVN/Git.

    Register WinMerge as a 3-way merge tool

    Register WinMerge as 3-way merge tool for TortoiseSVN/Git.

    Merge at right pane

    Merge at right pane.

    Merge at center pane

    Merge at center pane.

    Merge at left pane

    Merge at left pane.

    Auto-merge at startup time

    Optionally, disable the option Auto-merge at startup time.

    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.


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 Register shell extension or Unregister shell extension buttons.