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Is there a utility to compare folders visually?

59486 Views 77 Replies Latest reply: Mar 24, 2014 7:54 AM by pteja RSS
  • J from Bris Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 26, 2013 7:08 AM (in response to alpha9)

    In the meantime I started using (I think someone mentioned it in this thread) VisualDiffer. It offer compare by content and display in side by side panels similar to TC.


    If you are comfortable with command line options, try rsync with the -c (--checksum) option. a bit of learning curve but the best sync tool bar none for any Unix/Linux/Mac system. Especially if you also sync over the net.


    I've had times where highly praised FTP programs "successfully" downloaded a large file (couple of GB), only for it to fail CRC check upon extract. I used rsync (it only copy the missing section of the file, not the entire file!!), and file extract without error. i.e. it was smart enough to not only spot the difference, but also only download the difference and patch the local file. (optionally)


    about the folder into folder copy issue. I guess that is common for people coming from Windows environment. In *nix the trailing "/" has significance. I've been using Linux and Mac a few years now, and still get it wrong sometimes.


    Key to remember without the trailing slash you address the directory with the training slash, you address the content. i.e:


    rsync -rc /dir_1 /dir_2

          you will end up with /dir_2/dir_1/files

    rsync -rc /dir_1/ /dir_2

         you will end up with /dir_2/files


    If in doubt, use "/*" means the same, but read easier (similar to Windows c:\dir_e\*.*)

  • DreamCarrior Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 6, 2013 5:21 PM (in response to macjack)

    Compare Folder has been discontinued!

  • alpha9 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Like OP MurrayE, I'd prefer a visual utility. Not that command line options aren't fine, but we're looking for the most reliable procedure. And human/operator error is typically the source of errors as you said:

    I've been using Linux and Mac a few years now, and still get it wrong sometimes.

    Syncing can be very complex; situations/needs vary so different solutions will apply to different folks.


    For now I've somewhat inelegantly gone with 2 approaches:

    1) for situations where lots of interactivity, checking, diagnosing are required, I much prefer TotalCommander browser launching Sync It! . This is especially useful in letting me break a big problem into parts and syncing smaller subsets of the overall fileset: e.g. where I might have a screwy situation with latest updates on either source or target. Doing this by-hand with an elegant UI is easier for me. I could set up rules for a bidirectional sync (in either Sync It! or ChronoSync) but these are hopefully rare, one-off situations and specifying/testing the rules is not worth the effort. For me, Sync It! visually displays what I've asked it to do, and what actions it will take so clear and elegant fashion I have confidence I'm not making mistakes.

    2) for standard cases where I dependably know I need a 1-way or whatever type sync, I will rely more on ChronoSync. Standard "production run" sync profiles can be created, named and saved. ChronoSync is designed for such batch runs, although you can be more exploratory if you wish. Running a trial sync produces only limited visual info. Opening the "Analyze" panel gives better visual depiction of what source & target differences are and what is going to be changed where.


    I haven't yet needed ChronoSync's sophisticated timing & triggers for syncing. Kind of wish they'd sell just a manual version for less ;-) I don't mind the price, but it is 1 license per 1 mac. Of course, ChronoSync is clearly less hassle & expense if you don't already need to be running Win virtual machine all the time! If readers are interested in going beyond the 1 month free trial, a short term price break was recently announced:

    we are running a secret special on ChronoSync. Get ChronoSync for $10 off the regular price of $40 until July 31, 2013. This offer is not posted anywhere on our website, so you need to click on the link below and the discount code will automatically appear at checkout. Feel free to forward this offer to anyone.

    Click here to get ChronoSync for $30 Now 

    If the link doesn't work use a     Jul10Off    coupon code. Convinced me to get another copy recently ;-)

  • hitekme Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 29, 2013 7:41 PM (in response to murrayE)

    I would recommend

  • talltom65 Calculating status...
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    Oct 20, 2013 5:06 AM (in response to murrayE)



    Wondering if you ever found a solution to your question.  I just checked the scootersoftware sight - no luck for a mac version there yet.  I sent them an email asking same.

  • talltom65 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Oct 20, 2013 5:23 AM (in response to murrayE)

    also wondering if you have tried DeltaWalker and if so what you think of it.

  • Richard E. Cooke Level 2 Level 2 (220 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 20, 2013 9:43 PM (in response to murrayE)

    Very cool.  And only $4!


    Behind the scenes, he is using the FreeBSD/Darwin DIFF command - which is an excellent choice.  This allows him to focus on GUI layout and features, letting the Unix command do the heavy lifting.  Aside from befing fast, the DIFF command is extremely well tested.  If you go into Terminal and enter "man diff" you can see the details.  At the end of the man-pages it says this version has been around since 2002.


    I am making do with Visual Differ until Scooter Software comes to my rescue....


    I also check-in my text (source code) files into Subversion.  Which is also free, and there are a number of visual clients for MAC that let you compare the version you have now to any past version.


    Time Machine might be able to do something simialr too.   But TM and SVN are not intended for comparing simialr or synced folders.  Its meant for comparing files in one (or more) fodlers against older versions.

  • posimosh Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 4, 2013 4:16 PM (in response to murrayE)

    Sorry if this has been suggested already, but I use  Does all you have asked (including the convoluted "compare metadata" command if you ask it to.)  It'll even destructively merge folders as well...
    Deltawalker works well too though it is just a gui ribbon over a couple different command line programs (rdiff and rsync primarily)..

  • OLDsystem Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 18, 2013 6:53 AM (in response to murrayE)

    I was able to select certain files for copying in Kaleidoscope 2.0.2. You have to click in the middle pane. Arrows pop out and mark it as selected to go in certain direction. Both directions are possible at once. Therefore I find it adequate for such a task as you describe. Its handling of subfolders isn't perfect, but it is working.

  • posimosh Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 18, 2013 6:32 PM (in response to murrayE)

    Actually, it does... It's just buried in the settings. Also, to do this sort of a copy takes forever because it literally checks every single checksum of every single file then keeps the older/newer/whatever you tell it to on a third disk. It's especially good for creating a "master" osx install from two separate disks with installs on them.

    The problem is you need to know a bit about the innards of the OS and how the 3+ separate files called "library" relate to each other. If you exempt the essential os components and just "compare and copy" the 2+ sources in to one destination, you will end up with no duplicates/ this is especially helpful if you download a lot of torrents or files from the various "0-day" file locker type sites or have multiple libraries of photos some of which have common file names like "dsc001, img006, mov002 etc".  A lot of the "file compare" utilities do a "fuzzy" search for matching stuff which does not have a 100% effectiveness rate by necessity. They do this for a variety of reasons most of which have to do with time and user error mitigation.

    Anyway, if you can get the hang of CCC it is one of the better utilities around for osx.

    Oh and I haven't used kaleidoscope but have read it works rather well. I have used "delta walker" back in the day, and it used to be rather effective but I'm not sure if it's been updated to be able to handle newer versions of osx file system quirks and encryption. 

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