DeltaWalker 2.3.2 review

I reviewed DeltaWalker 1.0 over a decade ago. Back then, it was the only application on macOS that could find file content differences and differences between folders. Today, it’s not the only app anymore, with BBEdit capable of comparing files and folders and Path Finder 7 doing the same with files and folders. So, why would you still consider DeltaWalker then? For starters, because it supports 3-way comparisons and also because it can find differences between files, regardless of their format or content.

DeltaWalker Oro is the most complete and powerful version of the DeltaWalker family. It’s the one I received a licence for. It’s used by anyone from scientists, programmers, lawyers and journalists to photographers. The interface hasn’t changed much since I reviewed it ten or so years ago. It still is the most intuitive way to compare folder and file contents. But, as far as I can remember, DeltaWalker didn’t support synchronisation a decade ago and I am pretty sure it didn’t support image formats.

The first thing, however, that will please you about DeltaWalker, is its speed. It’s incredibly fast with text-based files, even when it has to go through hundreds or thousands of files. It will also let you edit files in-place — e.g. to ensure two text files have identical content — or merge them in a synchronisation operation. You don’t have to do this for the whole file, either. You can do this difference by difference.

DeltaWalker will even go into compressed files to compare files within the archive. It will compare and process PDF files, although, if you want to merge or edit those, it will first extract the text and will save your edits to text files as the original PDF cannot be changed.

DeltaWalker isn’t picky about where your files reside, either. It transparently supports cloud as well as local and network-stored files. And if you have difficulties finding the right folders or files, you can search for them and/or their content using filters based on regular expressions or shell commands.

The app is the only one I know of that can very quickly discover differences between file contents in three folders. This is incredibly useful if you have multiple versions of a document, or when you’re supposed to check for the differing content of two documents that on the surface are identical. If the content of the three files you’re scanning is different in all three of them, you have what DeltaWalker calls a conflict. Using DeltaWalker’s own built-in in-place editor, you can quickly make the conflicting parts of the files identical — or you can sync the files based on what is in the reference file (which, of course, is clearly designated as such in the interface).

During my testing of DeltaWalker, I found the app is unchallenged when it comes to all types of text-based files, such as PDFs, HTML, CSS and Markdown files. However, if you want to compare Docx files (which are sort of file bundles containing folders with XML files and text files in them) with text files, just as BBEdit does, DeltaWalker will only scan the top level of these files and the former is faster than the latter to find out there can be no matches.

When it comes to images, the list of supported formats is fairly limited and raw formats aren’t supported. That’s also the case with video/movie formats. I found that comparing images file by file — while it does work — is limited to showing you the images side-by-side with some of the file metadata like the size and creation date. Yet, single-image comparison on a purely visual basis with DeltaWalker is quite powerful. It includes zooming in on the image and it lets you set — with a slider — a threshold to see only the changes beyond that threshold. Where DeltaWalker could be improved is in its support for image-specific metadata, such as EXIF and IPTC.

Then there are also a couple of bugs when comparing images. For example, dragging the window to a larger size so you can make the image bigger and spot differences better, inevitably resulted in the app hanging on my system.

When you have a lot of images — or video files — DeltaWalker will let you instantly see which have been added in one location and not in the other, which are identical on the file level, etc. Buttons are also available to select only changed, added, deleted or differing files, but again, none of these operations takes into account any of the metadata embedded in them.

Finally, you can’t create filters that work on image metadata, so for image comparison of more than one image at a time, I would recommend Photosweeper over DeltaWalker.

DeltaWalker has a number of other features as well, including the ability to set up editors by setting the file type and extension inside the app. However, the association of the editor with the file is based on the Finder’s association. You can’t select the editor yourself, which would be handy if you have several — and which is possible in, for example, Photo Mechanic 5 and Capture One Pro.

Verdict

This takes me to the conclusion, which is that DeltaWalker is still pretty much unchallenged when it comes to textual file synchronisation and to folder comparisons. With regards to folders, the app is still much faster than competing software. It’s also more intuitive to use.

With regards to files, it is the clear winner when you’re comparing text files in any format, except those “file” formats that are really folders in disguise (.docx).

When it comes to comparing images, I was disappointed to see Deltopia, DeltaWalker’s developer, not having gone the extra mile and made the app extract and compare EXIF and IPTC metadata. That would have allowed you to scan folders with images and find metadata-identical images. It would have turned DeltaWalker into a serious competitor for Photosweeper and other dedicated duplicate image search tools.

As it is now, I will warmly recommend DeltaWalker for anything text-based. There simply isn’t anything like it in terms of power, ease-of-use and speed. However, when it comes to images, I would only recommend it when searching for visual image-by-image differences.

DeltaWalker is available in three versions. The basic version offers full-featured, integrated file and folder comparison and synchronisation on one platform of your choice (Mac, Windows or Linux). The Pro version, which costs $59.95, has all the above features plus scripting, 3-way comparison and automatic merge/sync, also on one platform of choice. The Oro version, which I tested, costs $89.95 and has all features and works on all platforms.

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