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The compare function in Word 2007 is very handy -- is there a similar capability in Excel 2007? I can't seem to find it...

The documents I'm trying to compare are essentially two versions of the same content. Unfortunately, "Track Changes" has not been used.

If file comparison not a built-in feature, what alternatives are out there for doing this?

UPDATE [2009-08-05]:
I ran across this (somewhat dated) overview of some of the third-party options that are available: http://www.comparesuite.com/solutions/compare_utilities_review/compare-files-excel.htm

UPDATE [2009-08-12]:
I ended up going with the Beyond Compare answer, but several of the other answers below were adequate as well, and might be more useful for someone else. (e.g. if you don't own a license for BeyondCompare, or want a comparison GUI that's integrated into Excel.)

See also: How do I diff two spreadsheets on Stack Overflow

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closed as not constructive by slhck Aug 9 '12 at 12:59

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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sry, but I don't see how this question is NOT constructive. In fact its a very good question –  nixda Jan 10 at 16:59
    
@nixda Because there were 14 answers until this question was closed, and at least a handful of (deleted) spam answers too. Any Excel diff software does the job here—this has become a "poll for your favorite Excel diff" question. This is really not what we encourage. –  slhck Jan 10 at 18:23
    
Up tick due to the fact that this is the kind of question I'd want on SuperUser. Great thread explores the many options out there. –  rheitzman Jun 23 at 16:41

12 Answers 12

I did that with a conversion to CSV files -- text is easy to diff.

There is a Perl script using the Spreadsheet::ParseExcel module at that question.
Besides, there are other ways to get to a CSV text file which can be compared.

You could even modify the solution to automate the comparison directly in the script.
I got the CSVs since there was a lot of other activity required.

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Use File->Save As to save the two files as a CSV (Comma Seprated Values) file, then use WinMerge (or the Diff program of your choice) to compares the two resulting CSV files.

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Easier to just use a Winmerge plugin that opens the files directly –  endolith May 1 '13 at 21:26

There is a plugin for WinMerge to compare Word, Excel, PDF and other document formats. Check out the xdocdiff plugin.

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Didn't know about that plugin, good answer. –  James McMahon Aug 5 '09 at 19:14
    
+1, Looks quite good. –  nik Aug 5 '09 at 19:15
    
However, the xdocdiff plugin site is not responding. –  James McMahon Aug 5 '09 at 19:16
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Note: only the old .doc/.xls Word and Excel file formats are supported. The docx and xlsx file formats introduced in Office 2007 are not recognized. –  Bernard Vander Beken Sep 12 '12 at 12:08
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+1 Works with xlsx files now - I tried it today. –  Danny Oct 17 '12 at 18:23

I just ran across this one -- Synkronizer. I downloaded the trial version and was generally happy with the program. The integration with Excel is nice, as is the visual highlighting and extensive customization. It can also generate a nice differences report as well. I found the interface a bit clunky to work with, though.

enter image description here

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The trial version has limited comparison range of A1-Z100 cells, that is 26 columns by 100 rows which is not bad at all. Installation is easy and it is easy to fir it up. Note that the same same scroll bar does not scroll both documents at the same time, but probably you dont need that as cells are highlighted by colors. –  Dave Nov 14 '11 at 13:48
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Beyond Compare with the Excel File Format Add-ons. I wasn't able to get the xdocdiff plugin for WinMerge working (as suggested in this answer), but this solution works in a similar way, using Beyond Compare as the engine. The add-ons convert the Excel files into either CSV or XML (there's an add-on for both) and then a textual comparison is used on these output files.

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Beyond Compare messes up (on my machine) when the spreadsheet contains more than one tab. –  CAD bloke Jun 11 '12 at 21:54
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Plus it's a commercial product. Not an expensive one but still requires time and money to get it working –  PPC Aug 6 '12 at 17:32
    
Just unzip the plugin and copy its files into the WinMerge folder and its MergePlugins sub folder. –  Danny Oct 17 '12 at 18:21
    
Beyond Compare has a help page for comparing multiple sheets simultaneously: scootersoftware.com/support.php?zz=kb_multisheetexcel –  Brian Hinchey Mar 26 '13 at 1:27
    
Note that this gives a graphical spreadsheet-like output, unlike the WinMerge-type solutions. –  endolith May 1 '13 at 21:31

Component Software has an Excel Diff tool . I havent used it but there other software is pretty good.

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The Power Utility Pak (PUP) is the best add-on that I have ever purchased for any application. Among its many functions is a Compare Ranges function which will do what you are looking for. The software cost $40 ($60 with source code included) but if you spend any amount of time in Excel, it is well worth the cost. If you do any VBA development, then the source code option is extremely helpful as well. The Excel 2007 version can be found here Power Utility Pak v7.

drew

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As far as the sheets to compare are compatible with OpenOffice Calc this provides a very handy compare function.

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Try the ExcelDiff tool. It is free.

It compares Excel files and writes the result to HTML files.

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This worked well for me. Very easy to install and use. Nice side-by-side comparison in html output. –  M Katz Jun 6 '12 at 17:35
    
Works with the Office 2007 .xlsx file format, great! –  Bernard Vander Beken Sep 12 '12 at 12:13
    
This was fantastic for Office 2010 XLSX files. –  mfinni Mar 5 '13 at 18:01
    
Sadly, it crashes trying to chew a complex excel file. Shame example results look so good. –  bizzz Jan 20 at 7:04

Easiest way I found, that doesn't require downloading dubious add-ons, is to just copy the spreadsheets into two Word 2010 documents and use the compare feature.

Yes it would be easier if they introduced the feature into Excel as well, but this is quick, easy and give you a perfect summary of all the changes.

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For the compare feature in Word 2010, go to the Review tab, Compare > Compare... –  Dunc Mar 6 '13 at 13:20
    
Note that this method is sensitive to false negatives. For example, a zero may have different underlying formulas. (Don't know how well the other solutions deal with this). –  Dennis Jaheruddin Apr 14 at 10:37

I've had success in the past with http://www.formulasoft.com/excel-compare.html

I just bought a license for this. I used it a few years ago elsewhere and it works well for my situation (11 tabs in similarly formatted spreadsheets).

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If you are looking for a simple command line tool to automate diffing, then check out this simple tool Excel compare which we developed at our company to automate tests which output Excel workbooks.

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Excellent Open-Source tool for comparing spreadsheets from the command-line. Thanks. –  Niels van Reijmersdal Jul 23 at 12:41

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