The PDF file format made it very easy to send and share documents on the web. It also allows users to password-protect files and prevent others from making changes to the original document. But how do you compare and find the changes made to a PDF file while reading or when you feel like something has changed without your knowledge/consent?
You can compare single-page PDFs by opening them side by side. But what if both files have a lot of pages? There are plenty of desktop and web applications to compare two PDFs side by side.
1. ADOBE ACROBAT (Web and Desktop)
Although you may find Adobe Reader pre-installed on your computer or easy to get, it does not have a comparison option. Adobe Acrobat DC supports PDF comparison with other features and is a paid program.
You can check Adobe Acrobat DC to compare PDF files. Install it from the link shared below and launch it. From the Tools menu, you will find the Compare option. Next, open the two PDFs you want to compare in Acrobat DC.
Not only will Adobe highlight the changes, but it will also create a score report to keep you informed.
Adobe Acrobat DC is available on Windows, macOS, and the web. The price of $179.88 per year is more suitable for those who already have access to the Adobe suite or work with PDF files day in and day out. Other than that, there are other alternatives that we will be sharing below to compare PDF files.
2. DIFFCHECKER (Web & Office)
Diffchecker, as the name suggests, is a purpose-oriented site that focuses on comparing all types of files such as PDF, Word, Excel, images, plain text, and even folders. Diffchecker works on both Windows and macOS and has a web app that I used below.
Start by uploading two PDFs and click on the Find Difference button.
Instead of just highlighting the differences, Diffchecker will highlight the entire paragraph and then highlight the changes as well, albeit in a different shade of green. However, the web app worked flawlessly and was also quick to load.
The free plan will let you use the web app, while the desktop apps and some advanced features cost $9 per month. They also have an enterprise plan with cloud storage, but Adobe is hard to beat in this area.
3. DIFFPDF (web only)
We keep recommending it to our readers for a side-by-side analysis of PDF files to find discrepancies. The free version is valid for 20 days, after which you need to purchase the paid version for a one-time fee of $160.
4. DRAFTABLE (web and desktop)
Draftable is a popular PDF software that offers an enterprise level document comparison solution. You can compare PDF, Word, and PowerPoint files, which makes it a powerful app for someone who has to compare documents a lot.
Draft can detect changes made in content, text, font, and document style and present them for side-by-side analysis. There is also an option to download the report in PDF format, which makes it a very versatile option.
The best part about Draftable is that the web version is completely free to use.
Open Draftable from the link below, just drag and drop the two PDF files app, and click the Compare button to start the process.
Draft will highlight changes in green, the color of their site’s theme. You can choose to highlight content differences only, style changes, or content and style differences in the right sidebar, depending on what you’re looking for. Another great feature is Sync Scrolling, both old and new documents will be scrolled side by side, so you don’t have to do it separately while comparing and looking for changes in PDFs.
The web app is free, while the desktop version will cost $129 per year but it brings with it additional features and works offline.
5. ASPOSE (web only)
ASPOSE offers a suite of PDF tools on its website for free and is supported by donations. Among these tools, you will find the comparison tool. The hypothesis remains the same. Open the site using the link below, drag and drop the two PDFs into the given boxes, and hit the compare button.
Once you have ASPOSE up and running, you can download the results in PDF format, view the differences online, and also send them to the email ID of your choice.
ASPOSE works flawlessly and highlights the differences in the PDF but there is no side-by-side comparison available, as you might have noticed in the screenshot above. This is a bit limited, but you can still use it for a quick comparison of PDF files.
Notice the changes
There are plenty of apps to compare PDF files side by side. Like Adobe and Draftable, some work on the web and desktop while others only work on the web. If you are OK with using a web app, we recommend Draft. The user interface is polished, the features are rich, and it really allows you to do side-by-side comparisons of PDF, Word, and PowerPoint files. A unique feature that the other apps we’ve covered here lack. Adobe Acrobat DC is expensive but powerful and useful for enterprise users.
So, what tool do you use to compare PDFs?