How to Compare Documents in Google Docs

Google Docs

Instead of opening two documents in side-by-side tabs to compare them, check out how to compare documents in Google Docs with a built-in tool.

Have you ever written or received two versions of a document that you needed to compare? If you create the documents, you might want to see which version is more appropriate. If someone else creates the versions, you may simply want to see the differences.

With Google Docs, you can use a handy built-in tool called Compare Documents. You can always open each document in its own tab and move between the two. But this feature lets you see the differences in one spot, on one tab. You can then pick parts you want to keep and form a final document if you like.

Compare Documents in Google Docs

You can compare two documents in Google Docs quite easily. Head to the Google Docs site, sign in, and open the first document you want to compare.

  1. Click Tools from the menu and select Compare Documents. Tools Compare Documents in Google Docs
  2. In the pop-up window, click My Drive in the Select the comparison document box to locate the comparison document.
  3. Use the tabs at the top for My Drive, Shared with Me, Starred, or Recent if one helps you find your document faster. You can also use the Search box or browse through Folders and Files to locate your document.
  4. When you find the document, select it, and click Open.
  5. The document you select will replace My Drive in the pop-up window. Optionally, you can check the box to include comments from your selected document.
  6. Click Compare to continue and then Open when the comparison is ready.

Compare Documents and Ready

A new tab will open in your browser as a document labeled “Comparison of” your two document names.

View Your Comparison

The new comparison document you see shows the differences in two ways.

First, you’ll see magenta-colored strikethroughs and text. This shows what the second (comparison) document has different than the first.

Document Comparison in Google Docs

Second, you’ll see comments on the right side with these differences. This is similar to comments from others when you’re collaborating on a shared document in Google Docs. So if you want to make notes on the differences, simply select the comment and add your note in the Reply or add others with @ box.

Comment Reply in Google Docs

If you click any of the edited text, you’ll see the corresponding comment pop in from the right. And if you click a comment, you’ll see a colored box surround the corresponding text on the left.

Document Comparison Differences

All of this gives you a clear picture of the differences between the two documents. And each comment displays “From comparison” at the bottom. So if you have a lengthy document and lose track of which version contained what, this is a good reminder.

Save the Comparison With or Without Changes

This comparison is automatically saved as a new document. So you can refer to it easily from Google Docs or Google Drive anytime, which is super handy. But you can also create a final document from the two versions using this comparison with these options.

Rename the document: Just like any other document in Google Docs, you can click the name of it on the top left and give the comparison a new name.

Accept or reject the differences: Similar to changes others make when you’re collaborating, you can accept or reject the differences. To accept, click the checkmark on the comment and to reject, click the X.

Document Comparison Accept and Reject

Once you click to accept or reject, the change will be applied to the document or completely ignored and the comment will disappear.

Simpler Document Combining in Google Docs

If you have two saved versions of a resume, letter, report, proposal, or another type of document, but aren’t sure where the differences lay, check out this built-in Compare Documents feature in Google Docs.

Do you use Microsoft Word in addition to Google Docs? Be sure to read our how-to for comparing two documents in Word too!

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