Opens two files in vimdiff and provides single-stroke key mappings to make moving differences between two files efficient. Up to two additional files may be opened at the same time, but these are generally used for reference purposes.


vdiff [options] <file1> <file2> [<file3> [<file4>]]


-v, --vim

Use vim (rather than default).

-g, --gvim

Use gvim (rather than default).

-f, --force

Edit the files even if they are the same.

-q, --quiet

Issue only error messages.

-h, --help

Print this helpful message.

Relevant Key Mappings


Move down to next difference


Move up to previous difference


Obtain difference


Push difference


Update file1 to match file2


Update file2 to match file1


Save any changes in all files and quit


Quit without saving any file


Make all panes the same size and rotate between them


Update differences

When comparing 3 or 4 files, you must prepend the buffer number to the push or obtain command. The buffers are numbered from the left to the right starting with 1. For example, to obtain the difference from buffer 3, move to that difference and type ‘3 Ctrl-o’.


Defaults will be read from ~/.config/vdiff/config if it exists. This is a Python file that is evaluated to determine the value of three variables: vimdiff, gvimdiff, and gui. The first two are the strings used to invoke vimdiff and gvimdiff. The third is a boolean that indicates which should be the default. If gui is true, gvimdiff is used by default, otherwise vimdiff is the default. An example file might contain:

vimdiff = 'gvimdiff -v'
gvimdiff = 'gvimdiff -f'
gui = True

These values also happen to be the default defaults.

As a Package

You can also use vdiff in your own Python programs. To do so, you would do something like the following:

from inform import display, Error
from vdiff import Vdiff

vdiff = Vdiff(lfile, rfile)

    if vdiff.differ():
        display('%s and %s are the same.' % (lfile, rfile))
except KeyboardInterrupt:
except Error as err:

Using Vdiff with Mercurial

To use Vdiff with Mercurial, merge the following entries into your ~/.hgrc file:

merge = vdiff

extdiff =

cmd.vdiff = vdiff
opts.vimdiff = -g

These will result in Vdiff being used whenever a merge conflict occurs. It also allows you to use ‘hg vdiff’ to view differences between versions.


Runs only on Unix systems. Requires Python 3.5 or later. Install by running ‘./install’ or ‘pip3 install vdiff’.