How to Compare the Contents of Two Folders on Windows 11: A Step-by-Step Guide

Comparing the contents of two folders on Windows 11 is a breeze, and it’s a useful skill to have when you’re trying to organize files or ensure you have backups of your important documents. The process involves using the built-in File Explorer tool to view both folders side by side and then manually checking for differences. In just a few simple steps, you can quickly compare the contents of any two folders on your computer.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Compare the Contents of Two Folders on Windows 11

Before jumping into the steps, let’s understand what we are about to do. We will use the File Explorer in Windows 11 to open two folders simultaneously and compare their contents visually. This process does not require any third-party software, and it’s perfect for quickly checking differences in files and folders.

Step 1: Open File Explorer

Open File Explorer by clicking on the folder icon on your taskbar or searching for it in the start menu.

File Explorer is the gateway to all the files and folders on your Windows 11 computer. It’s a handy tool that allows you to navigate through your storage devices and manage your data.

Step 2: Navigate to the First Folder

Use File Explorer to navigate to the first folder you want to compare.

Once you have File Explorer open, you can use the left sidebar to quickly jump to common folders like Documents or Downloads, or you can use the address bar at the top to type in the folder’s location directly.

Step 3: Open a New Window

Right-click on the File Explorer icon on the taskbar and select ‘Open in new window’ to open a second File Explorer window.

Having a second File Explorer window allows you to view both folders at once, side by side, which makes the comparison process much simpler.

Step 4: Navigate to the Second Folder

In the new File Explorer window, navigate to the second folder you want to compare.

Just as you did with the first folder, use the sidebar or address bar to find the second folder on your computer.

Step 5: Arrange Windows Side by Side

Snap both File Explorer windows side by side using the Windows snap feature by dragging a window to the edge of the screen until you see an outline and then releasing it.

Windows snap feature is a convenient tool for multitasking and comparing things visually. Once you drag and release the window, Windows 11 will automatically arrange the windows side by side, taking up half the screen each.

After completing these steps, you will have both folders open side by side, allowing you to visually compare their contents. You can scroll through each folder and check for differences in file names, sizes, and modification dates.

Tips for Comparing the Contents of Two Folders on Windows 11

  • Use the ‘Sort by’ option in File Explorer to organize files by name, date, type, or size for a more straightforward comparison.
  • Pay attention to the file size and modification date, as these can be indicators of different versions of the same file.
  • If you have a lot of files to compare, consider using the search function in File Explorer to find specific files quickly.
  • Remember that some system files might be hidden by default. To view them, you need to adjust the ‘View’ settings in File Explorer.
  • If manual comparison is too tedious, consider using a file comparison tool or software for automatic comparison.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I compare more than two folders at once?

No, the method described above is for comparing two folders at a time. If you need to compare more than two folders, you would have to repeat the process or use specialized comparison software.

Does this process show the contents of subfolders?

No, this process compares only the contents of the folders you have opened. To compare subfolders, you would need to open and compare them individually.

What if I find duplicate files?

If you find duplicate files, you can decide to keep both, delete one, or move one to a different location, depending on your needs.

Can I compare files on different drives?

Yes, as long as both drives are connected to your computer, you can use this process to compare folders across different drives.

Is there a way to sync the contents of two folders?

Windows 11 does not have a built-in folder syncing feature, but there are third-party tools available that can sync folders for you.


  1. Open File Explorer
  2. Navigate to the first folder
  3. Open a new window
  4. Navigate to the second folder
  5. Arrange windows side by side


So, there you have it! Comparing the contents of two folders on Windows 11 is not rocket science. With the help of File Explorer and a few clicks here and there, you can easily spot the differences or similarities between any two folders. Whether you’re a professional keeping track of multiple versions of files or just someone trying to declutter their digital space, this skill is sure to come in handy.

Remember, organization is key in the digital world, just as it is in the physical one. Keeping your files well-organized not only saves you time but also prevents the frustration of losing important documents or dealing with duplicates. If you’ve ever found yourself asking, “Did I already save this file?” or “Which version of this document is the most recent?” then knowing how to compare the contents of two folders will be a game-changer for you.

Feel free to explore more advanced file management techniques and third-party tools if you need more robust comparison features. There’s a whole world of file organization and management waiting for you to dive in. Happy comparing!

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