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Comparing Plugins with TESxEdit

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Level: Beginner

This is the second in a series of guides on TESxEdit, which is the name I use to refer to the utilities TES4Edit, TES5Edit, FO3Edit and FNVEdit. As I explained in my introduction, these are all the same program customized for the file format of each game.

Previously I explained how to install and run TESxEdit. I also explained some aspects of the interface and how to compare plugins. In this instalment, I will show you how to compare plugins using TESxEdit's Compare function. The examples will use TES4Edit, but the process is the same for the other versions of the program.

Getting Started

Comparing plugins is very similar to simply loading multiple plugins when you open TESxEdit, except that the Compare function will highlight the similarities and differences for you.

Open TESxEdit. Right-click on the plugin selection dialog and select None, then scroll through the list and click the box next to the first plugin you want to compare to check it off and load it. Then click OK.

xEdit Compare1

Once the plugin has finished loading, right-click on the name of the plugin and select Compare to... from the context menu.

xEdit Compare2

Select the second plugin you wish to compare. Have a look at the mod index number next to the name of each plugin. The mod index is the same for both plugins, so the Form ID's will be identical. Now if you go through and expand each of the nodes, you can easily see the similarities and differences between the two plugins.

Tip: Hold down the ALT key when you click the plus sign next to a node and it will expand all the nodes under the one you clicked on.

A quick ALT+click on the Cell node opens all the cell records and shows that the second plugin adds a lot of new cells in this example:

xEdit Compare3

The green background means the cells are identical. The white background shows the new records. Expanding the Creature node shows our first set of modified records.

xEdit Compare4

If we click on one of the modified records, we don't see any difference in the first page of fields.

xEdit Compare5

However, scrolling down a bit reveals the difference quite clearly:

xEdit Compare6

In this case, a script has been added to the creature and its aggression has been set to 100.

Now let's look at a conflict. When there is a conflicting change, the background will be red and the text will be a darker red. A conflict is when both plugins change a record in Oblivion.esm and the changes conflict. Here is an example:

xEdit Compare7

Both plugins alter the landscape in cell 42,-16. Since you won't be loading both plugins at once, this is not an issue. If you were loading both plugins, then you would determine which plugin's changes you see by placing it later in your load order.

Lastly, I would like to draw your attention to the Messages tab. As I mentioned in my Introduction to TESxEdit, the Messages tab is where you'll see various messages as the plugins are being loaded. Usually these are just informational messages showing the progress, but you should take note of warning messages. Here are the warning messages for the two plugins I compared:

xEdit Compare8

Those messages are warning you that the Form ID refers to a different kind of record in the first plugin than it does in the second plugin. Indeed if we take a look at one of those EYES records it's complaining about, we can see those don't look like Eye records:

xEdit Compare9

The solution to this is to simply load the second plugin on its own and have a look at the changes. This is only an issue because the Form ID's are identical; in a normal load order, the second plugin would have a different mod index so the Form ID's wouldn't be identical.


TESxEdit's Compare function allows you to quickly scan a couple of plugins and see the differences between them. The green background means the records are identical and the yellow background shows the changes. TESxEdit will display conflicts with a red background and deeper red text colour.

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Is there a way to make tesedit just compare the entries that are different to each otherhave something else added(like that script that set the aggression), without it showing the tons of non-conflicting lines, the green lines, the red lines, etc?

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