Compare two versions of a PDF: Tips and tricks

By Subrato Namata, Acrobat engineering

Reviewing and comparing documents can take forever, especially when multiple people are involved in the process. Consider the scenario: You receive a new version of the press release you’ve been working on from your PR Agency. Press release is due tomorrow. So, now you have the mammoth task of comparing it to the previous version to identify all the changes. Any change gone unnoticed could pose huge legal and reputation risk. When deadlines are looming, finding and reviewing a few small changes in a 30-page document can be a frustrating experience!

This is where Acrobat’s new “Compare Files” feature comes handy. It takes the pain out of the review process and makes it easier to identify the differences. You can quickly navigate the changes and approve the ones you wish to keep. Differences can be seen in side-by-side or one-page view, so you won’t have to risk your eyesight reading and comparing each word.

What’s new

Two views to spot the differences between two versions of a PDF.

Side-By-Side view

With the new Side-by-Side view, both the old document and the new document are placed side-by-side to clearly pinpoint the differences. Also, a visual blue band is associated with each difference and is connected across the documents for easier review. This is the default view.

Old/New File view

With the new Toggle View (Old/New File View), you can easily move through the old or new document to review each difference using a single-page view. This view is best suited for small screen devices. The keyboard shortcut for switching between the old/new file view is Ctrl + /.

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For detailed information on the Compare Files tool, visit https://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/using/compare-documents.html.

A few tips & tricks

Landing Page Tricks

  • Click thumbnails to open pdf.
  • Open multiple files in one go.
  • Swap two documents using the Swap button swap.
  • Select the “Compare text only” option for faster comparison.

Tips on working with Compare Report

  • Navigate with keyboard shortcuts:

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  • Click any row-band to go through all the diffs:

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  • All the formatting diffs, for example, font change, image resize, etc. are not shown by default in the Compare Report. Here is how to find out the formatting diffs:

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  • Dark theme for better visibility

If you want the row-bands to be visible clearly, try the Acrobat’s dark theme – View > Display Theme > Dark Gray.

Do more with hidden RHP

  • To view all the diffs in one place, expand the Right-hand pane by clicking the small arrow on the right.
  • Navigating to a specific diff in the RHP displays the corresponding page.

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Too many diffs?

  • Filter diffs based on the type of operation – addition, deletion, or replacements.
  • Filter diffs based on contents – text, image, attributes, header, or footer.

And then navigate through the diffs.

Quickly mark diffs as accepted or rejected in the compare report

  • Right-click a particular diff > Set Status, and then choose “Accepted” or “Rejected”.
  • Filter by accepted or rejected diffs.

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In a hurry? Print the report

  • Print of diffs in the compare report

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Review the compare report on the go

  • Upload the compare report to Adobe Document Cloud and start reviewing it on various devices from the last saved state.