Having other people review your PowerPoint presentation is really useful. They can check for typos, make suggestions for slides you might be stuck on, and generally just act as a test audience. However, if your reviewer doesn’t use the ‘Comment’ function, and instead just edits directly on the slide, it can become a not-so-fun game of ‘spot the difference’, especially if you don’t necessarily want to keep all their changes.

We have previously covered how to compare two versions of the same document in Microsoft Word, but how can you compare two versions of a Microsoft PowerPoint file?  Well it turns out to be quite easy!

Take a look at these two example PowerPoint slides:

original PowerPoint slide

Figure 1: Version 1


compare and combine powerpoint

Figure 2: Version 2

For argument’s sake, let’s say these differences weren’t immediately obvious and you couldn’t just check them yourself. Follow the steps below and PowerPoint will identify the differences for you in under a minute.

Step 1:

Download the file from your reviewer and name it something different.  (Make sure it is obvious to you which is your version, and which is your colleague’s.)

Step 2:

Open one of the versions – it’s up to you which you open but as I get quite… ‘territorial’ over my files, I prefer to open my version.

Step 3:

Click on the “Review” tab on the ribbon and then click on the “Compare” button.

compare and combine powerpoint

Step 4:

A dialogue box will open. Navigate to the version of the PowerPoint file you would like to compare with the one you already have open and click “Merge”.

compare and combine powerpoint

Step 5:

When you have done this, you will return to the original PowerPoint file you had open, but you will see a “Revisions” pane and some annotations on the slides themselves.

compare and combine powerpoint

Now there are two ways you can look at the changes.  You can use the Revisions pane and use it to navigate to either the slides that have been changed or the details that have been changed.

compare and combine powerpoint

Alternatively, you can just go through slide by slide, because happily, each change is indicated on the slide by this icon:

compare and combine powerpoint

Step 6:

Now you have identified where the changes are you can go through them one at a time and decide whether you want to accept them or not.

Click on the icon on the slide and it will show you a list of what has changed:

compare and combine powerpoint

compare and combine powerpoint

Using my example, if I selected the top checkbox, all the changes listed (size and position, the insertion, the deletion) would appear on the slide.

compare and combine powerpoint

If I decided I didn’t like those changes I could deselect the top checkbox and the text would revert to the original version.

I could also pick and choose from the menu and just change, for example, the size and position, without making the spelling changes by ticking only the check box next to “Size and Position”.

So you can go through edit by edit and accept or reject as you choose.

Step 7:

When you are happy that you have the file the way you want it, end the review using the button on the review tab and save the file—be sure to use a new version name to keep things organised!

compare and combine powerpoint

Seems too good to be true right? I bet you have a few questions and I bet I’ve got the answers.

Does this work for pictures?

Yes! It will alert you if any of your pictures have been moved and/or resized and also if any have been added or deleted.

compare and combine powerpoint

Does this work for animations?

Sadly no. When I removed an animation from my second version and compared the versions it told me that there was “Non-mergeable content: Animations” and would only allow me to accept or reject all changes on the slide as a single group, rather than choosing individually.

Does this work for transitions?

Yes it does! Although these are easier to see if you use the “Details” section of the revisions pane as it puts the icon to the side of the slide itself.

compare and combine powerpoint

In a perfect world we would all have co-workers who use the “new comment” button on the review tab, or who simply write their suggestions in coloured rectangular boxes.

compare and combine powerpoint

Sadly, we can’t always have the perfect colleagues, however, thanks to the handy compare tool, we don’t have to suffer for their bad habits. Here’s to a swift editing process!

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Written by

Emma Trantham

Senior consultant

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  1. Image of Gayatri Gayatri says:

    How can I compare similar images in two different powerpoints? To make it simple how can i find or check image A in powerpoint1 is also present in powerpoint 2?

  2. Image of Q Q says:

    Great, simple to follow and very helpful.

  3. Image of Gary Gary says:

    Can I save a REDLINE version showing the comparison results? When I save the merged version, I no longer see the comparison results.

    • Image of Emma Emma says:

      Hi Gary,

      Great question – I don’t think it it possible to save the file so you can still see the comparison results when you open it up again, which is a shame.

      Sorry I can’t help you with this one – please do let us know if you find a way.

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