Choosing Best Excel File Comparison Tool

xlCompare website and xlCompare spreadsheet compare tool are the best in the business of comparing Excel files for differences. This is a complete toolset that finds and highlights differences in Excel files and pulls matching or unique rows. In this article we will discuss other difference checking services, that works with Excel files.

Key differences between xlCompare and other Excel file comparison tools?

All Excel diff tools solve the same task - compare Excel files for difference and display results for the comparison. Results are higlighted with colors. From this point of view all Excel diff tools are identical. But there are details, that helps you to choose one tool over others.

Using side-by-side view to display worksheets

This feature is used by all Excel diff tools. This is the best and most suitable layout to present results in the compared Excel files. xlCompare gives it to you by default when you start it. While other tools need to configure Excel application to tile worksheets vertically on when they start the comparison.
Side-by-side view in the xlCompare window

How we report changed cells in the compared Excel sheets

Just look into the image below to see how xlCompare displays you information about changed cell on the worksheet.
Excel diff tool displays changed cells on the Excel worksheet
You see original and modified value, difference and tendency arrow that indicate increase or decrease of the cell value.

Align matching rows on the worksheets

Highly important feature. xlCompare inserts virtual rows into worksheet, where corresponding one contains unique rows. So, when you browse diff report matching rows are always one vs. one. This greately help you to analyze comparison results, when you've compared two Excel files for difference.
Excel diff tool aligns matching rows on the worksheet

Commands to merge changed cells between Excel files

Every changed cells and new row(column) has merge button. Just press this button and call value(formula) or entire row is copied into the corresponding Excel file. You don't need to play with copy and paste commands to move the worksheet data frome file to another.
Merge changes between two Excel files

Ignore columns on the worksheet

Imagine, you don't need to compare data in some columns. What to do? xlCompare gives you easy way to uncheck the columns you don't need. Easy and quick!
Ignore columns from being compared in Excel files

Filter compared worksheets by specific segments of data

Compare only portions of your worksheets that belongs to specific segment of your data. xlCompare supports auto filters on the worksheets, like Excel application. So, you can filter rows on the worksheet by any criteria. With this feature you can put your focus into selected data.
Filter data by segment in Excel file

Compare VBA forms for difference

In this component xlCompare is unique tool. No other Excel files comparison tools compare forms and controls in the Visual Basic projects. You may say that most of the Excel files comes with data in the XLSX or CSV formats. But there are a lot of Excel developers around the world and we can't ignore their needs.
Compare VBA forms in the Excel files

Excel diff tool with command line mode

Integrate xlCompare tool into SVN or git software as an external Excel diff viewer. xlCompare has all you need to resolve merge conflicts, while most of the Excel based tools doesn't provide you command line mode.

Compare three Excel files

In some cases you need to compare three or more Excel files for diffs. What to do if your tool allows to compare only 2 Excel files or sheets? This is not a problem for xlCompare. It compares 3 Excel files and synchronizes changes. You are getting report that points you to common and different records in your Excel files. Also it highlights conflicted cells and rows, if they were changed in all three Excel files.

xlCompare and Spreadsheet Inquire Add-in

When do you need xlCompare tool and when you can use free Spreadsheet Inquire Add-in
Some versions of Microsoft Excel include Spreadsheet Compare Add-in, that is called Spreadsheet Inquire in the list of Excel Add-ins.

What is Spreadsheet Compare Add-in

Spreadsheet Inquire is available in the Office 365 Professional. It is not available in the other versions of the Microsoft Excel 365. This is COM Add-in that compares Excel files for differences.
It is installed with Microsoft Excel, so it is free for you if you already have Microsoft Excel 365 Professional on your computer.

Main differences between the Spreadsheet Compare and xlCompare

Spreadsheet Compare Add-in is a perfect tool that finds different cells in the Excel files. If you need only to find changed cells in your Excel models, probably this is good and working solution. In this case you don't need a professional tool like xlCompare.
We've compared 2 small Excel files with Spreadsheet Inquire Add-in:
Compare Excel files in Spreadsheet Inquire
You are getting highlighted differences and summary report in the bottom part of the window.
Below screenshot of the same files, compared with xlCompare:
Excel Compare vs. Spreadsheet Inquire
xlCompare compares these worksheets by primary keys and gives you more accurate results:
  • Row with Orange was highlighted, even it is present on the other worksheet.
  • xlCompare uses several types of colors to highlight the differences on the worksheets. This greatly increase readability of the report.
  • xlCompare displays tendency (increase or decrease of the numerical values).

List of the differences

This one you are getting in Spreadsheet Inquire Add-in
List of differences in Spreadsheet Inquire
This one is a summary of changes in the xlCompare
Summary of changes in xlCompare
  • xlCompare detects inserted and removed rows, while the Spreadsheet Inquire reported only changed cells.
  • xlCompare allows to collapse branches in the report tree. This simplifies navigation if you have several worksheets compared.

Processing unsorted data

Spreadsheet Inquire works incorrectly with unsorted data:
Unsorted data in Spreadsheet Inquire
Probably, you need to sort the data on the worksheet yourself before comparison.

Other benefits of xlCompare

  • merge cells between the worksheets
  • command line mode
  • compare multiple Excel files at once
  • filter comparison results
  • evaluate and debug formula logic


If you need only to find a modified cells on your worksheets - Spreadsheet Inquire Add-in is a good solution that will help you.
In case if you need to merge changes made in the Excel files, extract rows that are present on the other Excel worksheet, configure your spreadsheet compare tool as diff viewer for Excel files - xlCompare is your reliable partner!

Make a conclusion on choosing best ExcelDiff tool

The most important benefit you get from xlCompare is simplicity. This tool transforms complex and routine actions into simple steps and gives you results without any efforts!

Complete comparison

On the Features page we've published a summary of the features collected from excel comparison tool reviews. xlCompare covers all of them.

Biggest set of options

xlCompare has more options than every other tool on the market. This gives you maximum flexibility in checking your sheets for difference.

Best performance

xlCompare is based on our Spreadsheet Core engine, that opens Excel workbooks faster than Excel application. By working with core objects and state-of-the-art algorithms we give you best performing tool on the market.

Focus on the efficiency

Spreadsheet Tools is not a seller of the Excel file comparison tool. Our company is your reliable partner, that makes you business processes more efficient. Saved working time is a primary benefit of the xlCompare, that is usually hidden by the comprehensive Excel file comparison.

Continuous development = Reliability

Regular updates give you stability. This is important. We continuously improve the software and publish updates for xlCompare. Look into History of Changes to see the list of regular updates. We develop this software more than 15 years and will continue adding new features and options. Development of xlCompare will never stop!

No extra payments = Minimum expenses

We don't use Software as a Service model to distribute our software. xlCompare is not a service, for that you need to pay every month. You pay only once for the license and get permenent license and updates and support included. No extra payments! This is important in the modern world, where companies are working on optimization of their business processes.