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How to Compare PDF Files

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2023-12-07 15:40:58 • Filed to: Compare PDF • Proven solutions

There may arise a need to proofread a crucial or official PDF document against the original PDF file and your intent is to absolutely scale down the errors. The question is, how can you compare two PDFs effectively? If you are in the dark regarding how to compare two PDF files then calm down. This article gives you a complete guide on how to compare two PDFs using the best PDF comparison tool.

Three Methods to Compare PDF Files

When you need to match the contents of a PDF file with another file that is similar, the compare PDF files function comes in handy. Most premium PDF editors like Adobe Acrobat Pro DC and Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor have this functionality so it’s easy to see which parts are dissimilar. The compare PDF files feature is often used to check minor differences between large files, which would be a painstaking process to do manually. With a built-in feature, however, it’s just a matter of opening the two files in the comparison tool. There are several methods of how to compare two PDF files. We have narrowed it down into three methods as expounded below.

Method 1: How to Compare PDF with PDFelement

The latest version of Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor for Windows comes with a compare PDFs function that you’ll see right on the main welcome page when you launch the application. Clicking this module will take you to a second page where you can select two different but similar PDF files. The comparison tool is then activated, and you can proceed to do various actions based on the content that is automatically highlighted.

Here’s a full run-down of how to compare two PDF files for changes, omissions, additional content, and other differences.

Step 1. Launch PDFelement and Choose the Compare PDF Icon

On the Home page of PDFelement, you will be able to see several icons for various PDF actions. Click the one that says Compare, which will trigger a pop-up window for file selection.

open pdf to compare pdf

Step 2. Choose the PDF Files to be Compared

In the pop-up window, click “Select File” on the left to choose the base file and the one on the right to select the file to compare it with. After that, click the big blue “Compare” button at the bottom of the window. PDFelement will process both files and open them up for your review.

select files to compare pdf

Step 3. Compare the Two PDF Files

When the files are opened side by side, the differences between them will be highlighted in each file, as applicable. There’s a key available on the top-left toolbar and a list of differences right below it. Each type of difference is assigned a particular color so it’s easy to see what types were found in the two files.

compare pdf files

Step 4. Detailed Comparison Actions

- Navigate when Comparing PDFs - Previous and Next Buttons

The first modification is selected by default. If you need to move to the next difference, click the Next button from the 4 options above the documents. You can use Previous and Next to navigate through the differences one at a time.

compare two pdf files

- See Specific Content Types Highlighted - The Filter Function

If you need to see the differences in just one category of content, such as images or text, use the Filter button and uncheck the content you don’t need to compare.

compare two pdfs

- Hide What You Don’t Need to See - The Show Feature

This button can be used to show or hide any type of difference, including all of them. This is particularly useful when you’re only looking for extra content in the comparison file that’s missing in the base file.

compare pdf files

Video Guide on How to Compare PDF Files

An All-in-one PDF Solution - PDFelement

You can use PDFelement to compare PDF files, but that is not by any measure the only thing you can do. PDFelement is a robust PDF and document management solution in its own right, having won several awards for its ease-of-use, feature-richness, and intuitive design. You can use it for a vast array of PDF actions, both basic and advanced. Here are some of the key features of PDFelement: 

  • Edit PDF - PDFelement offers the full range of PDF editing tools and the ability to add/delete/modify any type of content - images, text, tables, graphs, hyperlinks, footers/headers, watermarks, background colors and textures, pagination, and much more.
  • Convert PDF - PDF files can be converted into a range of other file types such as Word, Excel, HTML, EPUB, RTF, etc. Again, the rendering in the output file will closely match that of the source PDF.
  • PDF Signing - Create and add a digital signature or handwritten signature to any document.
  • Forms Management - Easily create or fill interactive PDF forms with form field highlighting and other useful features.
  • Annotations and Commenting - A full suite of markup tools at your disposal, allowing for document collaboration and clear, concise communication between collaborators.
  • OCR Text Recognition - Recognizes text in over 20 languages with multilingual support. Accurate and fast optical character recognition allows users to completely digitize their document workflows and reduce physical paper consumption. Great for savings, great for the environment.
  • Cloud Integration - PDFelement Pro DC is integrated with Wondershare Document Cloud, allowing users to store and retrieve PDFs from their desktop and send documents to multiple signers to get their electronic signatures (includes document status tracking and other advanced features included in Document Cloud.)
  • Batch Processes - Several key functions can be executed on a large batch of files, which saves a tremendous amount of time otherwise wasted on repetitive tasks.
  • PDF File Management - Merge and Split PDFs, combine files of different types into a single PDF, combine several PDFs at a time, and do much more with PDFelement’s comprehensive collection of file management tools.
  • PDF Security - Apply strong password-based encryption to control who sees, copies, modifies, or prints your confidential PDF files.

As you can see, the compare PDF files feature is just one of many rich functions you’ll find in the new PDFelement for Windows and Mac. PDFelement also has a Pro version for iOS devices that brings a lot of desktop functionality to the mobile frontier. In addition, attractively bundled offers are available that include Wondershare Document Cloud usage for a true hybrid desktop/cloud experience.

Method 2: How to Compare PDF with Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat is one of the plausible tools to compare PDF files with ease. It gives standard functionalities that can help solve your PDF comparison problems. Launch Adobe Acrobat, click Tools>Compare Files option, then click the Select File button to load PDF documents. You can also select Compare Text Only to ignore graphic differences and compare these two documents.

Step 1. Launch Adobe Acrobat software on your PC to access the main window. Now navigate to the "Tools" tab and subsequently select the "Compare Files" option.

adobe acrobat to compare pdf documents

Step 2. Now, the Compare Documents File window will be opened to allow you to upload both new and old documents. Click the "Select File" tab on the two sections and upload the target PDF files. If you want to change a file or upload your desired file, simply hit the "Change File" drop-down arrow. Also, if you want to switch the positions of the two files, just hit on the exchange arrows.

compare two pdf files with adobe acrobat

Step 3. Check the "Compare Text Only" box to ignore any graphical differences between the two PDFs. Customize the comparison settings by clicking the Settings icon. Click "Ok" to proceed.

Step 4. Click "Compare" and Acrobat will process and display the result summary. Click on the "Go to First Change" link to start reviewing your documents.

compare two pdfs with acrobat

Method 3: How to Compare Two PDF Files with Online Free Tools

PDF24 is a free and secure online tool that enables users to compare two PDF files and identify the difference. The comparison process is quite easy and straight ward. Go to the website of PDF24, click the Choose File button to select the target files. In the Mode option, choose either Textual or Visual mode to compare, and you will get the conclusion of the files.

Step 1. Navigate to the free online tool homepage using your desired browser.

Step 2. The main interface is divided into two distinct sections labeled "First file" and "Second file". Click on the "Choose file" link in the first file section to access the file explorer window. Now choose the first PDF file for comparison and click "Open" to upload it to the first file section on the program.

Again do the same in the second file section. The respective PDF file name and file size will be displayed on each section once they are successfully uploaded. Remember you can upload PDF files to be compared from the local save location on your PC, Dropbox, and Google Drive.

Step 3. Once the target PDF files have been successfully uploaded, hit the drop-down icon beside the "Mode" option and choose between the Textual and Visual comparison options.

Step 4. Now click the "Compare" tab to trigger the comparison process. Wait for some time for the comparison to conclude. When it is complete, the results will be displayed at the bottom. The differences will be highlighted in red color and a strikethrough.

These uploaded files, for security reasons, will not be stored for long on this platform. They are removed from the server after a short time. So once you upload them, just compare and take your results at that moment.

pdf compare tool online free

Conclusion: Without bias, you can confidently ascertain that PDFelement outshines all the other methods. This is because the program has an elegant interface with lots of features that makes the user experience effective and full of fun. The ease of use, faster processing speed, and support of multiple documents naturally make it our top pick. Try PDFelement and compare your PDF files easily and effectively.

Free Download or Buy PDFelement right now!

Free Download or Buy PDFelement right now!

Buy PDFelement right now!

Buy PDFelement right now!

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Margarete Cotty

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