Discover how to compare two versions of a workbook in Excel

Sometimes when working in Excel, you may want to compare two versions of a workbook to see what was changed. It could be an issue such as totals that are manually entered instead of formula calculated that you want to check.

You can use Microsoft Spreadsheet Compare to run a report on the differences, and investigate any of the problems it finds. To do this, you will need to use the commands in the Inquire tab, however the Inquire tab is not enabled by default. In this tip, you’ll discover how to enable the Inquire tab and compare workbooks using it.

You are welcome to download the two workbooks here to practice this comparison exercise:

Download Workshop2.

Download Copy of Workshop2. 

Applies To: Microsoft® Excel® for Windows Office Professional Plus 2013 and Office 365 ProPlus.

Enabling the Inquire Add-in

Note: When trying this on your own computer, if you don’t see an entry for the Inquire add-in in the COM Add-Ins dialogue box, it’s because either your version of Office or Excel doesn’t include it, or your organization’s system administrator has made it unavailable.

To enable the Inquire add-in, follow these steps:

1. Click the File tab.

2. Click Options.

3. Click Add-Ins.

4. Make sure COM Add-ins is selected in the Manage field.

5. Click Go.

6. In the COM Add-Ins dialogue box, make sure the Inquire check box is selected, and click OK.

7. After the add-in is turned on, the Inquire tab will appear in Excel.

Comparing Workbooks

To compare two workbooks, you need to have both workbooks open in Excel. Follow these steps:

Note: You can also access the compare option by selecting:

  • Windows Start menu, All programs, Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2013 Tools, and then click Spreadsheet Compare.

1. On the Inquire tab, in the Compare group, click Compare Files.

2. In the Compare field, click the drop down arrow to select the first workbook you wish to compare.

3. In the To field, click the drop down arrow to select the second workbook you wish to compare.

4. Click Compare to run the comparison.

By using this feature, you are able to compare and analyze workbooks.

Differences are highlighted with a cell-fill colour or text-font colour, depending on the type of difference. If you want to save your results, you can export them to an Excel file or copy and paste them into another program, such as Microsoft Word.