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My final goal is refactoring code written by my coworkers. So, is there a tool which can find files differing in only few words?

(Edit: this is for a Mac, but others might like non-Mac answers too.)

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@harry, given the revision history, I guess you posted a Windows answer, which was downvoted because only then the Mac requirement emerged? I'd rather have the Mac requirement dropped and see your answer (if it was a good non-Mac answer) as well! – Arjan Sep 18 '10 at 13:00
@Arjan : Done . – harrymc Sep 18 '10 at 13:48
For a Mac, I wondered if Spotlight could be used. I doubt it, but if you know of a way to do things in Spotlight, then the mdfind command might help to write some script to automate things. However, I think it will always only use meta data. Hence finding similar files might limit on file type, but not on file contents. No cigar. – Arjan Sep 18 '10 at 15:21

Simian does this for the source code of some languages. It is best at finding blatant copy-n-paste coding. Its developments seems to have stalled, but it works good enough.

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Did not help very much — in rails app with a lot of very similar partials it only said, that I have similar lines in development.log – tig Jun 21 '10 at 11:49
Did you give it the right files to analyze? You probably care about your sources, not development.log. For rails have a look at flay… – Benjamin Bannier Jun 21 '10 at 13:16
Yes I gave it all files in rails app dir – tig Jun 22 '10 at 0:50

(For Windows)

The product Anti-Twin (free for private use) claims to be able to do this:

If you want Anti-Twin not only to search for full duplicates but also to similar files, you can reduce the desired minimum match from the default value of 100% to up to 60%. This function has been particularly designed for the search of almost identical files where only a tiny detail was changed. Anti-Twin uses the similarity search as soon as you enter a value below 100%. The similarity comparison takes much longer than the 100% full duplicate search!

Unfortunately, the similarity search as part of the byte-by-byte comparison only makes sense for a few file types, because a similarity can only be detected if the files are uncompressed and unencrypted. Uncompressed files are e.g. unformatted texts (.TXT) and HTML.

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I'm on mac and running something through wine, parallels or something like that will not make refactoring easier, only harder :) – tig Jun 21 '10 at 11:50
@tig: You should have specified this in your post. I've added the mac tag. – harrymc Jun 21 '10 at 12:12
@Arjan: I undeleted this answer, as you requested. – harrymc Sep 18 '10 at 13:47
rightfully so! Removed the [mac] tag again. Should have been [osx] anyway ;-) – Arjan Sep 18 '10 at 14:01

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protected by slhck Mar 18 '13 at 6:21

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