In the new version of Google Docs is it possible to view/compare revision differences as you used to be able to do to see the changes highlighted.

I know you can view previous versions but what I want is to see the individual changes highlighted by the user that made them.

  • The infuriating thing is that when I open a document that's been changed since I last viewed in, Google offers me a button to show the changes since I last visited, which brings up a "Changes since [date]" screen. But that screen doesn't get its own URL, and once I refresh, both it and the button are gone forever. Dear reader: if you are comfortable with your browser's dev tools, perhaps, next time you get the opportunity, you could try clicking through that button's handler in the debugger, to see if it can be easily reverse engineered and used for comparing arbitrary revisions instead. – Mark Amery Mar 28 '19 at 16:18

This is no longer possible in the latest version of Google Docs. Please, see other answers instead.

It previously worked this way:

  1. Open the document in Google Docs
  2. Click the [File] menu item
  3. Click the [See revision history] option
  4. Check the box for the newest revision you want to compare.
  5. Scroll down the list and check the box for the oldest revision you want to compare.
  6. Click the [Compare checked] button to see the changes between the old and new revision entries you checked.

Added content will be block highlighted. Deleted content will have a line through it. Both will be in the color of the editor that made the changes.

Update: As discovered by DEFusion, old documents, which I had used to write the above process, are unaffected by the new "feature" (or deletion of a feature, apparently). I failed to actually create a new document to test the process. Indeed, new documents created in Google Docs do not provide a diff function. Only browsing between newer and older versions is currently possible.

So, unfortunately, it looks like for now no diff-ing is possible.

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    I don't see any check boxes, nor a [Compare checked] button. – ptomato Aug 18 '10 at 9:24
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    This is how the old Google Docs handled revisions, the new Google Docs (ensure you're looking at a document created with the new Google Docs) simply has this menu when entering "See revision history": << Back to Editing << Older Newer >> [Drop down to pick revision to view] Revert to this one – DEfusion Aug 20 '10 at 13:56
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    Hmm, apparently the comment notification system on SE is temperamental too -- none of this discussion lit up the little envelope next to my name, so I didn't see it. Thanks for the clarification, I removed my downvote. – ptomato Aug 25 '10 at 9:30
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    @ShreevatsaR, This was for Google Docs 3 years ago. I think what you described is simply how they do it now. – Matt Jun 19 '13 at 8:35
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    Right, I guess the feature to compare two specific revisions is gone. Each revision can be compared with the previous, though, and this gives a hack for comparing an older revision with the current one: restore it, then restore the current one again, so that the two ones you want to compare are the top two revisions. – ShreevatsaR Jun 19 '13 at 8:37

You can use https://github.com/larsks/gitdriver to create a git repository mirroring a google doc. In the repository is only one file stored and there is a commit for each Google Drive revision. Then, you can use commands like git log of git diff or graphical tools for showing the diff as described here: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/255202/how-do-i-view-git-diff-output-with-a-visual-diff-program.

It is a shame that people must invent such tools for Google's inability to accomodate user's workflow.

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  • Down sides: if you export HTML, the document is all on one line, making comparison with most diff tools more difficult. Text output works better, but loses formatting information. The import loses authorship information. Also, the import is kinda slow. Still, glad to know it's an option! – Alan De Smet Jul 15 '19 at 16:56

The best way I found is to use named version. You can set names for each versions and you can compare current named version with previous named version. So the step is

  1. Set names to two versions you want to compare with.
  2. Turn on "Only show named versions".

Then you can see the difference between specific versions.

In order to be able to visually see the highlights and strikethroughs, you need to check the Show Changes box at the bottom of the right-hand column, then click on the named version you wish to view.

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    After naming two versions and switching to "Only show named versions", I see no option to compare revisions, only to view the different revisions. – Mark Stosberg Nov 10 '17 at 18:43
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    When you select a revision, the spread sheet is supposed to show the difference between the selected revision and previous revision. – ykensuke9 Nov 15 '17 at 4:22
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    This doesn't seem to work for google docs. – headdab Apr 26 '19 at 19:51

You can see differences between named and unnamed versions. Go to File->Version history->See version history On the right hand side, you'll see the versions. If you click on one of them, you will see above your document, on the right hand side Total: X edits

The total shown is the number of changes between the version you highlight and the previous one shown. There are two arrows to the right of the total for taking you from one change to the next. When only named versions are shown, you see the difference to the previous named version. When both are shown, you can click on the little triangle to the left of a version to show also unnnamed version. In that case you'll see differences between one unnamed version and another.

You can name and "remove name" for versions with the menu to the right of the version name to see differences between further away versions.

All this worked June 4, 2019.

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This method will create a new document with the changes as suggestions.

  1. In the updated document:
    1. Select the menu item: File/Version History/See Version History
    2. Find the version upon which you wish to base the compare/diff.
    3. Click the vertical ellipsis, and select "Make a Copy"
  2. In this new copy of the document:
    1. Select the menu item: Tools/Compare Document
    2. For Select the comparison document:
      1. Click My Drive
      2. Select the original document
      3. Click Open
    3. For Attribute difference to:, select: << your user >>
    4. Click Compare
    5. After a few moments, the Dialog "Comparison is ready is shown"
    6. Click Open
  3. The document will show the diff/changes as suggestions.
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  • The "Compare Document" menu item does not appear to be present in the current version of Google Docs, either in the Tools menu or any other menu. – Alan De Smet Jul 15 '19 at 16:54
  • This is the only solution that worked for me as of today. It looks like the "Compare documents" feature was just recently added, it says "New" right next to it. – timofey.com Nov 23 '19 at 3:33

If you have access to Adobe Acrobat, you can print the two documents to PDF files using Docs Print/Save As PDF command, then compare them using Adobe Acrobat's Compare Documents feature.

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  • This only creates a longer process of what is already available. OP need the changes highlighted by each user. – Bradley A. Tetreault Jul 27 '14 at 23:55

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