Compare Any Two Documents, including scans or Web pages!

You can see what’s different between any two documents or Web pages by using Acrobat, no matter what their original format!

Just export both documents to PDF format, or if you only have printed copies, scan them and open them in Acrobat. (Tip: you can scan directly into Acrobat, or generate a PDF from a website URL, from Acrobat’s File menu.)

Then in Acrobat, (depending on which version of Acrobat you’re using) choose Document> Compare or Advanced> Compare Documents… or View> Compare Documents….

Select the PDFs you want to compare, and choose a method. The choices vary, depending on which version of Acrobat you’re using:

In older versions of Acrobat:

  • Page-by-Page Visual Differences will highlight differences in image, color, and text;
  • Textual Differences highlights text or text formatting that is different.

In Acrobat X and later (see dialog box below):

  • Document Description lets you give Acrobat a clue about the kind of documents it’s comparing.
  • Note the “Compare text only” checkbox in the lower right corner: if you’re only interested in seeing the differences in text, this option dramatically speeds Acrobat’s comparison time.

When Acrobat finishes its comparison, it displays the differences for you.

In older versions of Acrobat:

You can view the differences in two ways: as a side-by-side comparison of the two documents, with differences highlighted; or displaying just one of the PDFs with markups to show how it’s different from the other PDF. The markups don’t tell you much about what makes the items different, but at least it points them out to you.

In Acrobat X and later:

You can enable or disable various categories of changes (text, formatting, images, etc.,) to more easily work with the items you’re most interested in. (See figure below.)