Compare two versions of a PDF file (Acrobat Pro)

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Quickly pinpoint changes by comparing two versions of a PDF file. Acrobat analyzes the files and presents a report detailing differences between the documents.

Compare files

With the all-new Compare Files tool, you can now quickly and accurately detect differences between two versions of a PDF file.

  1. Open the two versions of a file that you want to compare and then from the All tools menu, select Compare files.

    Compare versions of PDF using Adobe acrobat

  2. To select another version for the old file or new file, select Change File and then select the desired version.

    To swap the position of the old and new files, select the swap arrows icon between the thumbnails.

  3. To ignore differences between the graphic elements, select the Compare text only check box.

  4. To modify the compare settings, select  and then select the desired options:

    • You can limit the comparison to a portion of the documents by entering the page numbers in the Old File and New File fields.
    • Autodetect: Acrobat decides the type of documents that you’re comparing.
    • Reports, Spreadsheets, Magazine Layouts: Compares the content as one continuous text body, from end to end.
    • Presentation Decks: Looks at each slide or page as a mini-document, and match ones that are similar. Then compares the content of each matching document. Identifies documents that have moved, such as slides in a presentation.
    • Scanned Documents, drawing or illustrations: Creates an image capture of each scanned page and compares pixels. Looks at each scanned page and matches ones that are similar. It also identifies pages that are in a different order. This option is useful for comparing images or architectural drawings.
    • Show in Report options allow you to select the elements of the documents for which you want to see the differences in the compare report.

    Tip: If your document content can reflow across pages, select reports, spreadsheets, and magazine layouts; otherwise select presentation Decks. For comparing scanned files, select scanned documents, drawings, or illustrations.

    With either the reports or presentation options selected, the Compare Text Only option identifies only the text differences between the two documents.

    With Scanned Documents selected, the text is compared separately from the graphics, and then the results are combined. In documents containing magazine advertisements that have text on top of background image art, a reflowed passage is compared in text-only mode. The artwork is compared separately in the background. The differences related to text, line art, and images are all combined into a single results document.

    Note: The text option can be used with any document type. It’s designed for comparing text in large documents (250 pages or more). It also compares text between documents that have background artwork on each page, which slows processing.

    Settings for Compare Files

  5. Select Compare.

    Acrobat displays the results in a new document. The first page provides an easy-to-scan summary of all file differences.

    Compare results
    a – Comparison timestamp, b – Compared files information, c – Total changes, d – Distribution of changes, e – Formatting changes, f – The hyperlink to take you to the first change

  6. To start reviewing each difference in detail, select Go to First Change. 

  7. Select one of the following ways to review the changes:

    • Side-by-side view: Use the Side-by-Side (Ctrl+\) view to see a parallel view of results where the differences are shared in highlighted bands. The old file is displayed on the left and the new file is displayed on the right, with the changes highlighted in each band connecting across the files for easier review. Click a band to display a pop-up note detailing all of the changes within the band. You can also click the highlighted content to open the pop-up.
    Side-by-Side view

    • Right-click a change or its pop-up and set an appropriate status for the change.
    Set status for the change

    • Single page view: Use the Old File or New File option in the side-by-side drop-down list on the toolbar to see the individual file with all changes highlighted.
    Single page view

  8. To review all the changes, use the Filter and Show options.

    By default, annotations, formatting, and background differences are turned off. To see these changes in the report, select these options from the Filter menu in the toolbar. You can also filter comparison results by selecting specific types of changes in the Filter menu. From the Show menu, you can select an option to show or hide legends, row highlights, or results.

    Acrobat Reader: Compare files filter

    Acrobat Reader: Compare files show

    • To go through the changes one-by-one, select Previous Change or Next Change
    • The Previous Change and the Next Change button are also available in the pop-up notes detailing the changes.
    Acrobat Reader: Compare files

    • To see all the changes visible in the Compare Results report, select the Comments button in the right navigation pane. The pane lists all the changes visible in the Compare Results report. Use the search button to search for any specific change.
    List of changes highlighted in the Right Hand Pane

  9. To save the Compare Results file, select the hamburger menu  (Windows) or the File menu (macOS) > Save.

    Once done, you may close the Compare files tool.

 Adobe

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