Thursday, May 25, 2023

Kaleidoscope 4


  • Syntax coloring, with multiple built-in themes.
  • Transform any comparison into a merge document that can be edited inline.
  • Text filters to clean up diffs by removing irrelevant data, such as time stamps, object addresses and unique identifiers.
  • Kaleidoscope Prism, a new helper app in the menu bar to quickly launch comparisons even if Kaleidoscope is not running.
  • Debugger integration for Python developers.
  • File properties show metadata, including size, file type, dates, and encoding.
  • A welcome window that speeds up the processes of creating new comparisons or finding recent ones.

The syntax coloring is nice. The most interesting feature for me is the text filters, which have a nifty interface that reminds me of BBEdit pattern playgrounds. I expect that they will prove useful when comparing Xcode debug or test output.

It’s not available from the Mac App Store.


Update (2023-05-30): Florian Albrecht:

While the new version is very much a continuation of what we started 2.5 years ago with Kaleidoscope 3, we modernized many aspects of the app. This screenshot of a simple text comparison shows off some of the changes[…]

Update (2023-06-01): Florian Albrecht:

Kaleidoscope 4.0 comes with 7 predefined [text] filters. Most of them are designed for immediate real-world use. To illustrate how to use them, I am just going to run a simple and unfinished SwiftUI app to create license files from Xcode, twice, and copy the log output into Kaleidoscope.


While this result is not hard to understand, it contains a lot of “noise”, i.e. data that is not relevant to finding important differences. Let’s go ahead and clean this up a little.

Update (2023-07-25): Florian Albrecht:

The small square window in Kaleidoscope Prism is a great new target for dropping files and content. In addition to being a convenient visible drop area, the window has a button in the top right that provides another way to access the Kaleidoscope Prism menu. This has the benefit of making the menu available even when the menubar item is set to toggle the window (more about that below).


In order to be useful as a drop target, the window needs to be visible at the right moment. So let’s talk about how to configure this to fit your needs.


While it’s a rather tiny drop target, you can also drop content onto the Kaleidoscope Prism menu bar icon itself. Initially, it may feel a little odd to drop stuff onto the menu bar, but it is extremely convenient and space-saving.

5 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Kevin Schumacher

Went to take a look and I see they have subscription pricing, which meh for a tool like that. But...if you pay yearly it works out to $8 a month, but $14 if you pay monthly??? I don't think I've ever seen a software subscription scheme where there's a 75% premium for paying monthly. It's usually in the range of like $2-$3 on that price level, so maybe 25%-40%. (Which is still too much. I acknowledge there's more cost in processing 12 payments instead of 1, but it's not 40% more.)

I bought v3 in July 2022 for 150$, which was a lot for just a diff tool! And now after only just 10 months they switched to a subscription model with quite a hefty price for an app without any backend services. 4$ a month for existing customers for the first year...8/14$ after that... 1Password is less than that and this includes apps for all platforms and syncing! I understand the "devs need recurring income to keep the lights on" but this is just too much.

I also paid $150 for version 3 about a year ago. I'm not happy about switching to a subscription but this app is essential.

What I don’t like is the dark pattern of recurring billing. There was no way that I could see to opt out of this. Instead I had to go into my account after completing the purchase and cancel the subscription. If I still need this app next year, I’ll renew manually.

There should be a clear checkbox when paying that says "Renew my subscription automatically". Even it was checked by default, that would be better than opting me in automatically.

Chris Adams

I bought a license for 3 almost exactly a year ago because I wanted to help support the developers but I don’t think I’ll be buying a subscription. The price is high for a product which looks nice but is pretty slow on an M2 and the accuracy is notably inferior to DiffMerge for conflict resolution even though the latter hasn’t been updated in something like a decade.

This and Tower are both apps I used to love dearly and use all the time for my side projects (day job is mostly visual studio based) but both are now priced totally out of my league since they went subscription - and it’s sad because I didn’t need relentless new features, I just wanted updates to keep the old functionality working on new versions of macos for a nice annual upgrade price. Same with 1Password.

Luckily there is still the amazing (and reasonably priced) Beyond Compare, so I can live without kaleidoscope for diffs, and I just use git command line instead of tower - I do still miss it but whatever, I really can’t pay that much for something that’s just nice to have.

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