Best app to compare contents of two folders or drives?

I’m migrating away from a few external hard drives that had a lot of smaller files (music, documents, etc).

Carbon Copy Cloner alerted me that some metadata files weren’t copied and some of the Omnifocus Disk Sweeper totals don’t match up. I want to find out what files are different between the original drive and the destination drive.

An app called Path Finder 8 came up in my searches, but reviews on this version aren’t great.

What do you all recommend?


How are you with Terminal?

I second the use of Terminal if you feel comfortable using it.

Check out this app:

And Pathfinder has been around for a long time:

I would use Chronosync for this - set up a sync between original and copy then run a trial sync (i.e. without actually copying, just to check file differences). Lifetime upgrades for free and you spare yourself the trouble of learning rsync etc. on the command line.


Are talking about using Terminal for file hashing? I’d be interested in hearing more about that, or if you could point me to a resource that explains it. Thanks!

Beyond Compare is my super tool for comparing folders / drives. Merging, syncing, and more. Far better than PathFinder, in my opinion, and a lot easier to use than ChronoSync.


In addition to Beyond Compare mentioned above, Compare Folders is free (so it’s worth a look), but limited without the $4.99 IAP. The in-app purchase will do file checksums. It does not highlight within files where differences might be, however, merely showing files that have differences.

If you install the macOS development tools you can use the FileMerge app – also launchable through the command utility opendiff MSZs4

1 Like

Well then I would use find in the Terminal. The following is one way.

Let’s say the name of your copy disc is “Copy-Disc”, and your username is “aaron”.

First, list the contents of your home directory and save the list in a file:
ls -lR > filelist.txt

Then your copy:
cd /Volumes/Users/aaron/
ls -lR > filelist.txt

Then you can compare the lists using uniq, comm, or diff:
diff filelist.txt /Volumes/Users/aaron/filelist.txt


ChronoSync - It’s included if you subscribe to SetApp. (ChronoSync Express).

Brilliant, that’s great :slight_smile: Cheers

+1 for Chronosync, but that’s because I already have it in my toolbox. If I didn’t, I’d go to terminal.

Thanks for the reco! - I would say that I’m comfortable going in there and copying and pasting from trusted sources, but wouldn’t go in and know what to on my own… Yet… I think I’m going to try jec0047 suggestions below.

Thanks dfay! I actually have a license for Chronosync and hadn’t thought about using it in the way you outline above – I’m going to definitely try it!

Thanks quorm! The text comparison looks pretty cool.

Thanks to all of you who posted replies! I’m going to try Chronosync (since I still have the license) and then give the Terminal a shot…

Much appreciated

1 Like

I think you can also get the similar results with diff on its own:

diff -rq <directory1> <directory2>

Sadly, opening Beyond Compare on 10.13.6 says it is not optimized for this mac. That may put off the overly cautious user.

That said, Beyond Compare looks to be a well-featured application. Thanks!


What’s sad is that Scooter has said “we’re working hard on 64-bit” since December 2017.