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Comparing documents with Acrobat X Pro and Suite

Learn how to use the Compare Documents command to identify what has changed between two versions of a PDF file.

By October 10, 2010


In this tutorial, learn how to use the Compare Documents command in Acrobat X to identify what has changed between two versions of a PDF file.

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Comparing documents with Acrobat X Pro and Suite

Lori KassubaOctober 10, 2010

Adobe Acrobat X Professional allows you to easily compare two versions of the same document.

To compare two documents, select the View > Compare Documents command.

This brings up the Compare Documents dialog that allows you to select the older and newer versions of a document.

If you have a document open already, it will appear in the first pulldown automatically.

I'm going to go ahead and select two versions of a document to compare.

When comparing two documents, you can specify the page ranges that you would like to compare.

In the Document Description area you can select the type of document that you are comparing.

For example reports, spreadsheets, or magazine layouts.

Presentation decks, drawing or illustrations, or scanned documents.

This will determine the type of comparisons that are made within your document.

You can also check the “Compare text only” box if you're only interested in comparing text and no graphics within your document.

This is new in Acrobat X.

Note that the Compare Document feature isn't available when comparing PDF Portfolios.

In this example, I'll be comparing two presentations, which is already selected in the Document Description.

When I click OK, the Compare Documents command brings up a new PDF document with the Compare Navigation panel open on the left hand side.

The top portion of the Compare panel displays thumbnails of a report that you can page through.

The icons just below the thumbnails identify that something associated with the page has changed.

The purple arrow indicates pages were changed and green arrows indicate pages were moved.

The bottom portion of the Compare panel is a dynamic thumbnail of the old version of the page that you're selecting on the top.

This allows you to see what the older version looked like, even though you are still within the new document.

Let's go back to page 1 and review the report.

The first page summarizes the differences between the files, and the blue hyperlinks navigate to the actual file.

Clicking on this hyperlink takes us to the first page where the change is highlighted.

If I hover over the highlight, it will bring a popup that details exactly what has changed.

The color legend in the upper-right hand corner details what colors are used to denote insertions, deletions, replacements and movements within the document.

On the next page, you'll see that insertions are denoted in blue.

And again, if I hover over the highlight, you'll the exact changes that were made.

On page 3 you can see that a deletion is noted with a marker.

On the next page, you can see from the navigation panel that page 4 does not have any icon below the thumbnail, which indicates that there are no changes.

Moving on to page 5, you'll see a red box around the graphic in the thumbnail.

If I hover over the actual image the popup tells me that the graphic was replaced.

If I click on the actual image we'll see a side-by-side comparison of exactly what has changed.

Acrobat does pixel-by-pixel comparison within the graphics.

On the next page, the gray box in the upper left-hand corner details that a page has been removed.

And finally on the last page, the blue box in the upper left-hand corner says that a new page has been inserted.

Another way to view the documents is to use the Show Documents Side by side command under the pull-down tab in the Compare navigation panel.

This will layout the two documents side-by-side and synchronize the pages as you move through the document.

Closing out my old document, let's take a look at some of the options that you can set in the Compare navigation panel.

Simply click on the Show Options button and this will open all the options that you can modify when comparing PDFs.

I can specify exactly what type of changes to flag between the documents.

For example, I can include or exclude backgrounds, which can be useful when comparing presentations with solid color fill backgrounds.

I can set the color used for the Color Legend and I can control the opacity used to denote highlights.

Sometimes changing the opacity is useful if you need to see more information underneath the highlight.

Acrobat X's robust comparison tool allows you to compare any type of PDF content from magazine layouts to presentations.

You can compare all the content, including pixel level differences within graphics, or simply compare the text within a PDF.

The resulting PDF report provides detailed information on exactly what has changed and where between two versions of the same PDF document.

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