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Compare 2 PDF files

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  • Compare 2 PDF files

    I am looking for software that can compare 2 PDF files and show the differences.

    As an example: We prepare a high-res, print-ready 1-up optimized PDF file for an envelope and send it to an envelope printer. They build a new file (for conversion) on a larger sheet, run it through their workflow and send us back a PDF proof. So in some cases the PDFs we want to compare are not the same size or in the same position. Many years ago at the print show in Chicago I saw a software program that did this, but I don't remember the name of the company. Consumer-grade pdf comparison software won't work for me, and pre-flight software kinda gives me an idea but the software I'm talking about allowed you to position one PDF on top of another and it visually highlighted the differences and let you know what changed.

    Thanks all.

  • #2

    Acrobat DC now ships with Compare Files (see icon)

    This will compare text and objects and report on the differences. It is a handy tool but if might not show up changes in CMYK colour builds etc.

    All the other software I have seen compares text in two files (Nice if you have a contract with small print) but nothing that compares files for the things Pre-Press care about.


    • #3
      The feature in Acrobat for comparing PDF files should not be relied on for considering detailed graphic arts attribute comparison, but rather, gross level comparison of text.

      - Dov


      • #4
        Thanks Tim, but unfortunately the Acrobat built-in comparison does not work for me.


        • #5
          If you happen to be working in Adobe Illustrator then Esko’s DeskPack Viewer plugin for Ai may help. With it you can select two files that can open in Ai and a separate scalable window comes up. The two files can be viewed in overlay with the differences highlighted (as in the screenshot attached), show only differences, and of coarse a side by side view with differences shown. There are several other valuable QC tools included in the Viewer.

          You can try for free -
          Screen Shot 2018-09-08 at 6.43.23 AM.png
          Last edited by eskopdl; 09-08-2018, 06:05 AM.
          "you never know how the past is going to turn out"


          • #6
            Kodak PDF Compare does exactly what you require, but I don't know if the license is available separately. Ours is licensed through our Prinergy workflow


            • #7
              Callas pdfToolbox can do this with operator-adjustable sensitivity and accuracy.


              • #8
                Whether in Acrobat using PitStop or InDesign, one can use difference blending mode for a DIY method.

                Stephen Marsh
                Comments are personal and my views may not be shared by my employer or partners.


                • #9

                  Global Vision's Quality Control Platform can compare PDF files and highlight changes, both for graphics and text.
                  It also has several other features. Have a look here:

                  Kind regards,

                  Quality control across the entire workflow Files are frequently changed as they go through rounds of approval, and move along the printing process. Errors often slip through undetected. This platform will help you manage all your quality control from a single source and catch any errors before they go to print. How it works? Compare two files: Global Vision automatically compares your working file to a previously approved file. Inspect for errors: Any differences between the two files are flagged by Global Vision. Approve inspections: Results are generated into a report where you can sort through the differences and decide which are errors to be corrected Text inspection Compare the copy in a text document to the copy in a PDF file in seconds, regardless of the language. Learn more Graphics inspection Compare digital artwork files and proofs pixel by pixel for inconsistencies. Learn more Print inspection Compare printed labels, cartons, proofs and other packaging material to an approved artwork file to confirm accuracy. Learn more Barcode inspection Verify, decode and grade barcodes on PDF files, printed packaging and imposition files. Learn more Braille inspection Inspect, translate and verify Braille and find any added or missing dots. Learn more Spelling inspection Inspect spelling in any language with a high degree of accuracy. Learn more Pricing If you are interested in Quality Control Platform, let us know and we'll make you a quote.


                  • #10
                    As mentioned above, Global Vision has a good solution.

                    PC Industries also has a good solution.

                    AVT has one as well.

                    Eye-C has one too.

                    Packz is a PDF editor that has a feature built in to compare files.

                    They all let you open different file formats including PDF and Illustrator. I am not sure that Packz will let you scale for comparison, I think you will need to first scale the file within Packz before comparing. Of the first four options I had a preference for Eye-C but they all worked really well and would recommend you do demos with them. They should let you send them files to test with so you can make sure it works for you. I only did demos with the first three softwares and never actually used them. I do use Packz and I haven't had to compare different sized files. Usually the page box might be different but I can easily adjust this within the software. Since I have Packz I don't have a need for a separate PDF comparison software.

                    The demos I did for the other software was at a different job and it was intended to be used outside of prepress for PDF approval purposes.


                    • #11
                      Esko Artpro+ does it really well (maybe too much!)


                      • #12
                        Eric, you have my number. Let's meet at the local Starbucks and we can go through it.
                        Matt Beals
                        The views expressed here are my own personal views and are not those of my employer.


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