Compare Contents of Two Directories from Command Line

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To compare and display the different contents of two directories without the extra output you get from commands like diff, you can use the comm command instead. To get started, launch Terminal and type the following command, modifying the folder paths as needed:

comm -3

The output shown are the files that are different in each folder, with files unique to folder 1 aligned left and files unique to folder 2 aligned right.

For example, if you wanted to compare the contents of a folder named “Pictures” and a folder named “OldPictures”, both stored in the user downloads folder, the syntax would be the following:

comm -3

The output could look like this:

$ comm -3

Note the indentation, which shows you which files are unique to each folder. In the example above, the files “photo 1 copy.PNG” and “photo 3.png” are right aligned, therefore they are unique to the OldPictures directory and Folder-1-File.PNG and Folder-2-File copy. PNG is unique to the original Pictures folder.

This works fine in Mac OS X, but it’s a generic Unix command, so you should be able to use it in linux and other variants as well. If you run into compatibility issues or find this command unnecessarily complicated, try diff to run the same function.

excellent trick found by @BuienRadarNL on Twitter, @Our orange is there too!

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Compare Contents of Two Directories from the Command Line: FAQ

Tutorial Summary: Compare Contents of Two Directories from the Command Line

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How this tutorial helping you?

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What is actual time in which this method complete?

The time to complete the Compare Contents of Two Directories from the Command Line tutorial is 10+ minutes.

What are the supported Device?

Apple

What are the supported Operating system?

mac OS


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