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wdiff for Windows

This is a port of the original GNU wdiff utility to Windows.

The GNU wdiff program is a front end to diff for comparing files on a word per word basis. A word is anything between whitespace. It works by creating two temporary files, one word per line, and then executes diff on these files. It collects the diff output and uses it to produce a nicer display of word differences between the original files.

The executable wdiff.exe has been compiled using MSVC 12.0 (using /MT so it has no dependency on the msvcrt runtime) and should run on any version of Windows from XP upwards. You can recompile using MinGW if you wish.

diff utility

The diff utility is also required for wdiff to work. The executable diff.exe is also included in this distribution [md5=1b79ced2b4e7c4a2122256d584e9ad4b]. This identifies itself as 'GNU diffutils version 2.7' and was originally downloaded from Karl M. Syring's GNU utilities for Win32. The relevant download link on that page no longer appears to work.


  1. Binaries: wdiff-0.5.1W.bin.zip (106 kB).
  2. Source: wdiff-0.5.1W.src.zip (34 kB).


Copy the two executables in the bin subfolder into a suitable directory in your Windows System PATH. You know what to do. No messy make and recompile install procedure needed for Windows.


Use wdiff to compare the test files lao.txt and tzu.txt.

> wdiff lao.txt tzu.txt
The [-Way that can be told of is not the eternal Way;
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The-] Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
The [-Named-] {+named+} is the mother of all things.

Therefore let there always be non-being,
  so we may see their subtlety,
And let there always be being,
  so we may see their outcome.
The two are the same,
But after they are produced,
  they have different names.
{+They both may be called deep and profound.
Deeper and more profound,
The door of all subtleties!+}


The complete source code to recreate wdiff is in the src subfolder. The Makefile works with MinGW. The vcxproj file is for MSVC 12.0.

Notes on the port

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This page first published 12 June 2016. Last updated 13 June 2016.