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See the Difference when Comparing PDFs with Adobe Acrobat X

February 15, 2012

There are times when we need to identify the differences between two PDF documents. In Adobe Acrobat X, we now have the ability to compare documents and generate a comparison file highlighting the changes. These files can be electronic PDFs or scanned PDFs—no OCR required. They can include just text or text and graphics. Acrobat will perform a pixel by pixel comparison of the documents.

  1. From Acrobat, click the View menu and select Compare Documents to open the Compare Document dialog box.
  2. Select the comparison documents and choose a Document Description option.
  3. To limit the pages that are compared, set the page numbers in the corresponding fields.
  4. To limit the comparison to just the text, no graphics, select the Compare text only checkbox.
  5. Click the OK button to run the comparison.

A document labeled [Compare New] opens with the Compare panel displayed down the left margin.

A Color Legend is displayed in the top right corner denoting the different highlight colors used. Hover over a highlighted area or over a comment balloon in the document to view the comment regarding the change. A one-inch gray box in the upper left corner of the document indicates a page has been removed, while a one-inch blue box indicates the page has been inserted.

From the Navigation Pane, a colored icon just below the thumbnail indicates if changes were found on the page. A purple arrow indicates the page was changed and a green arrow indicates the page was moved. No icon indicates no changes were found on that page. At the bottom of the Compare panel is a thumbnail of the comparison page. Click the thumbnail to open the comparison document in a new window.

From the Compare panel, click the Options button and select Show Side By Side to display the [Compare New] and [Compare Old] windows side-by-side in the document window and enable synchronized scrolling.

Hopefully this new feature makes it easier to work with and identify the differences between PDF documents. This capability just may save you some grief and your eyesight!

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