How to compare two Excel files for differences

Let's say you have two Excel files, or maybe two versions of the same file, that you want to compare. Or maybe you want to find potential problems, like manually-entered (instead of calculated) totals, or broken formulas.
This is one of the basic tasks if you are working with excel files.
If you have relatively small excel files, you can view files side-by-side to find all differences. But, for example, if you are working with Price Lists, each one have 200 rows and 20 columns - the most likely you will miss something.
There are a lot of articles on the Internet on how to compare 2 files using VLOOKUP or other formulas. If you are doing this on the daily basis - there is no sense to spend time for this - let professionals to do this job for you!

How xlCompare can help you in comparing Excel files

In xlCompare you should not spend time to arrange views side-by-side using Excel's commands. Layout is already oriented for comparison work. You need only to open 2 excel files, and they are immediately ready for being compared!
Before you start, you need to understand which data you have. If you are working with complex model with thousands of formulas - you need to compare files as usual Excel sheets with formulas. But if you have price list, customer list or accounting statement - you need to use Database Comparison strategy.
Database comparison used very often. This type of Excel file is used to interchange data tables. So, in our example we'll show this type of excel file comparison.

Primary Keys

Every Database table should have Primary Key. In case of Excel file, this could be one column with key values, or complex key which consists of several columns. For example (First Name + Last Name).
xlCompare suggest you Primary Key columns for the files you are working with, but you can change them using Manage Primary Keys command on the Ribbon.

Compare two Excel files

xlCompare is very simple and easy to use utility. Just open excel files you want to compare and press Compare button on the main tab.
Compare Database Tables

Understanding the results

In the side-by-side grid every sheet is compared with the corresponding one. xlCompare process all sheets in the workbooks. Hidden sheets are included into comparison.
Comparison Results are reflected in the Difference Explorer window:
Difference Explorer
Every new record, which doesn't have corresponding match, or every updated cell is marked with color. This is color added by xlCompare over existing color in your file.
Original formatting is not changed!
  • Added rows: green color
  • Deleted rows: red color
  • Updated cells: yellow color
Number if differences is reflected in the Ribbon and on the Sheets Tab.

Filter cells using comparison results

You can export comparison results to external file, for future use or to exchange with co-workers. Or you can apply filters to perform various manipulations with data. Filter command in the Difference Explorer displays:
  • Unique (Added and Deleted) rows
  • Updated cells
  • Updated and Equal cells
This screenshot displays unique (added and deleted rows).
Filter Unique Rows
Green Filter icon in the top-left corner of the file header means that sheet has hidden rows.

Merge Tables

xlCompare has wide range of the merging commands. You can merge records by clicking on the blue arrow button, or by checking appropriate item in the Difference Explorer Window. Both of them are highlighted on the screenshot below:
Manual Merge Commands
When you click on the blue arrow record is added to the curresponding file. This change is reflected in the Difference Explorer - checkmark appears near corresponding item.

Bulk Merge Commands

If you have large file with thousands of inserted and deleted records manual merging will take a time. Use Bulk Merge commands for this case.
Bulk merge commands allows you to merge tables in single click according to file comparison results.
Bulk Merge Commands
Highlighted commands in the Difference Explorer does the following:
  • Create Union of two tables
  • Create Intersection of two tables
  • Create Difference between left and right files
  • Extract only unique rows
  • Merge all records from the left book into the right
  • Merge all records from the right book into the left
  • Extract unique records into one file and mark them with color
These commands are duplicated in the Right Click Menu:
Bulk Merge Menu

xlCompare has all Merge operations for Database Tables

Filter Duplicate Rows

Filter Duplicates
Use these commands fo Filter Duplicate Records in the file. xlCompare hides other records and leave only duplicate records visible.
In the combination with commands like:
  • Remove Hidden Rows
  • Save only Visible Rows
which are available in the Right Click Menu, you receive powerful tool for data manipulation.
xlCompare is able to solve all tasks you encounter on the daily basis.

Filter by Primary Key

Compare Databases
Database Tab on the Ribbon is a set of commands for database files.
Filter by Primary Key command leave only rows with specific Key Values in the files. All other rows are hidden. You can quickly analyze clasters of the similar records in both files by saving your time to filtering and sorting records.