This answer shows how to diff two strings - Using the diff command to compare two strings?

I try:

diff <( printf '%s\n' "tring1" ) <( printf '%s\n' "string2" )

The output is:

< tring1
> string2

This shows that the two strings are different.

I would like to know at which characters the two strings are different, or at least the first character where the difference starts. How can I do it?

This is important when comparing long urls.

I study other answers based on git diff at diff within a line

I try

git diff --word-diff --word-diff-regex=. <( printf '%s\n' "tring1" ) <( printf '%s\n' "string2" )

The output is:

diff --git a/dev/fd/63 b/dev/fd/62
index 9234a649..b6ce327a 120000
--- a/dev/fd/63
+++ b/dev/fd/62
@@ -1 +1 @@

I am not sure if I apply git diff correctly and how to interpret the output.

  • 1
    Does this answer your question? diff within a line Nov 16, 2021 at 10:33
  • @StephenKitt if git diff has this functionality then it is better to provide a straitghtforward solution.
    – Viesturs
    Nov 16, 2021 at 10:52
  • Please edit your question and show us the kind of output you are expecting. Does this need to be something like "the two strings differ at positions 1 and 7"?
    – terdon
    Nov 16, 2021 at 10:56
  • @terdon counting positions could be complicated in long strings. A more appropriate output is showing insertions and deletions in the string.
    – Viesturs
    Nov 16, 2021 at 10:59

2 Answers 2


For your specific use-case, store the strings in files, and compare those with git diff:

$ echo tring1 > f1
$ echo string2 > f2
$ git diff --word-diff --word-diff-regex=. --no-index f1 f2
diff --git a/f1 b/f2
index e8ae123..d704b3b 100644
--- a/f1
+++ b/f2
@@ -1 +1 @@

This shows that the “s” character was added at the start of the string, and that “1” became “2”.

cmp -b <( printf '%s\n' "tring1" ) <( printf '%s\n' "string2" )
/dev/fd/63 /dev/fd/62 differ: byte 1, line 1 is 164 t 163 s

cmp - compare two files byte by byte

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