When you’ve got more than one person reviewing your PowerPoint presentation, it’s really useful to be able to be able to quickly compare and combine two versions of the file. Everybody reviews in different ways, and collating all the feedback can become a not-so-fun game of Spot The Difference between multiple files, rather than a quick way to gather other people’s opinions on your work. Thankfully, though, it’s possible to let PowerPoint do the hard graft, so you can focus on collaborating effectively.

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?  Whilst PowerPoint doesn’t let you track changes like Word does, you can still very easily compare and combine versions.

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 compare the two versions 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.

Can you compare two versions even with 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

Can you compare 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.

Can you compare transitions?

Yes you can! 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!

PowerPoint for Mac compatibility

Unfortunately this feature isn’t available in the latest version of PowerPoint for Mac. If it is a feature you’d find useful, you can let Microsoft know!

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Written by

Emma Trantham

Principal 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.

  4. Image of Pranab Pranab says:

    While opening the saved files (after compare with comment) i cant find the comments. How can I save the compare files with comments.

    • Image of Emma Emma says:

      Hi Pranab,

      Unfortunately you can’t save a version of the file with all the revisions highlighted as revisions.

      Once you’ve chosen to “compare” your file to another version, you need to make the decision about what to keep and what to change before saving.

      However, if the two versions have two different sets of “Comments” in the “Comments pane” then it looks like both of these sets of comments will save.

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

  5. Image of Maria Maria says:

    I don’t see the “Compare” button/option in Microsoft PPT 2019. Could they have gotten rid of the feature?

    • Image of Emma Emma says:

      Hi Maria,

      I think I managed to leave a reply to the article rather than directly to you! Sorry! See below…

  6. Image of Emma Emma says:

    Hi Maria,

    Are you using PPT for Mac?

    This Microsoft sitesays it should be there in PPT 2019. However, it looks like this feature isn’t there in the latest PowerPoint for Mac.

    You can tell Microsoft you would like this feature here.

    If you aren’t using PPT for Mac, let me know and I can post some instructions on adding the “Compare” feature back into the ribbon.

    • Image of Alan Alan says:

      Hi everyone
      Emma, you mentioned you could provide instructions for adding the compare feature back into the ribbon in Windows PPT. I would be grateful to have that feature accessible again.

      Could you let me know how?

      Many thanks from soggy Germany!

      • Image of Emma Emma says:

        Hi Alan (from soggy Somerset!)

        Hopefully the instructions below will do the job for you:

        File -> Options (at the very bottom) -> Customize Ribbon

        The commands you can add are on the left. The commands already in your ribbon are on the right.

        Set both drop down boxes to “Main Tabs”.

        Scroll down the right hand column until you see “Review”. Make sure the checkbox is selected.

        If the checkbox is already selected, press the plus icon next to the box and look to see what is included in the “Review” tab.

        You can compare what is in your review tab to what is possible in the review tab by scrolling down to “Review” in the left hand column.

        If there is anything missing that you would like to have, first make sure you have “Review” selected in the right hand column. Then press the text in the left hand column for the feature you want, (e.g. “Compare”) and then press the “Add>>” button. This should then add that feature into your Review tab.

        I hope this all makes sense (and that the weather improves for you soon!)

  7. Image of Nuzi Nuzi says:

    This is very well written and explains the steps clearly. Thanks.
    I wanted to know if the compare feature, compares notes as well.

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