Getting and installing WinMerge


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.

[Note] Note

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.

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. There is also a mailing list for release announcements. Stable releases are also available in several file download sites.

2. Compatibility

  • WinMerge version 2.14.0 supports Windows XP/2003/Vista/2008/7/8/2012 and later. It runs 32 bit on both 32 bit and 64 bit Windows.

  • WinMerge version 2.12.4 was the last version to support Windows 9x, NT, 2000, and ME.

  • WinMerge is not supported on Windows RT.

3. Using the installer (recommended)

[Note] Note

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:

  1. Start the installer executable (usually named WinMerge-version-setup.exe).
  2. Click Next in the Welcome screen.
  3. Click Next in the License Agreement screen.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


    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.

    Click Next.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 Rational ClearCase

    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.

    Create a Desktop shortcut

    Adds the WinMerge shortcut to your Windows Desktop.

    Create a Quick Launch shortcut

    Adds the WinMerge shortcut to the Windows Quick Launch bar.

    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.

WinMergeU.exe itself depends on MFC90U.dll , MSVCR90.dll and MSVCP90.dll, in addition to some system DLLs. So if these DLLs are already installed on a system, only WinMergeU.exe is needed to run WinMerge. The DLL files listed above are also available as a downloadable runtime package.

[Note] Note

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, 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.

[Note] Note

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 (ShellExtension*.dll), run register.bat from the WinMerge directory. We recommend that you restart the computer after installing shell integration, so that Windows updates all its references.

5.1. 64-bit Windows Explorer shell integration

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 register.bat and unregister.bat, as with 32-bit versions.

6. 7-Zip and archive support

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

[Important] Important

There are 7-Zip MSI installers that do not install all the files WinMerge needs (specifically, 7zip_pad.xml in the 7-Zip program folder). If there are problems with archive support enabling, try running the EXE version of the 7-Zip installer.

To install archive support, download and install the7-Zip plugin from, as described in the Merge7z Installer section of this topic.

WinMerge automatically detects an installed 7-zip in the system, so no configuration is needed.

7-zip integration needs a compatible Merge7z*.dll 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 U 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 the 7z-Plugin archive that is available from the WinMerge download page.

If the 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 HelpArchive Support Disabled.

6.1. Merge7z Installer

Merge7zInstaller is a stand-alone installer for 7-Zip integration.

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


where XXX is the build number, YYY is the earliest 7-Zip version supported, and ZZZ is the latest 7-Zip version supported.

For example, Merge7zInstaller0014-311-426.exe 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.

The latest version is always available at 7-Zip plugin in our download page at, and of course from our home page at

[Tip] Tip

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.

Running the Merge7zInstaller is simple:

  1. Start the installer executable.

  2. Select the installation type and the DLL files (supported 7-zip versions) to install:

    Shared installation

    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.

    Application specific 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.

    Enable standalone operation

    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.