A simple tool for visually comparing two PDF files
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Note: this repository is provided as-is and the code is not being actively developed. If you wish to improve it, that's greatly appreciated: please make the changes and submit a pull request, I'll gladly merge it or help you out with finishing it. However, please do not expect any kind of support, including implementation of feature requests or fixes. If you're not a developer and/or willing to get your hands dirty, this tool is probably not for you.


diff-pdf is a tool for visually comparing two PDFs.

It takes two PDF files as arguments. By default, its only output is its return code, which is 0 if there are no differences and 1 if the two PDFs differ. If given the --output-diff option, it produces a PDF file with visually highlighted differences:

$ diff-pdf --output-diff=diff.pdf a.pdf b.pdf

Another option is to compare the two files visually in a simple GUI, using the --view argument:

$ diff-pdf --view a.pdf b.pdf

This opens a window that lets you view the files' pages and zoom in on details. It is also possible to shift the two pages relatively to each other using Ctrl-arrows. This is useful for identifying translation-only differences.

See the output of $ diff-pdf --help for complete list of options.

Obtaining the binaries

Precompiled version of the tool for Windows is available from our downloads section -- the ZIP archive contains everything you need to run diff-pdf. It will work from any place you unpack it to.

Precompiled version for openSUSE and Fedora can be downloaded from the openSUSE build service.

Compiling from sources

The build system uses Automake and so a Unix or Unix-like environment (Cygwin or MSYS) is required. Compilation is done in the usual way:

$ ./bootstrap
$ ./configure
$ make
$ make install

(Note that the first step, running the ./bootstrap script, is only required when building sources checked from version control system, i.e. when configure and Makefile.in files are missing.)

As for dependencies, diff-pdf requires the following libraries:

  • wxWidgets >= 3.0
  • Cairo >= 1.4
  • Poppler >= 0.10


$ sudo yum groupinstall "Development Tools"
$ sudo yum install wxGTK wxGTK-devel poppler-glib poppler-glib-devel


$ sudo apt-get install make automake g++
$ sudo apt-get install libpoppler-glib-dev poppler-utils wxgtk3.0-dev


  • Install Command Line Tools for Xcode $ xcode-select --install and Homebrew to manage dependencies, then:
$ brew install automake autoconf wxmac poppler cairo

Note that many more libraries are required on Windows, where none of the libraries Cairo and Poppler use are normally available. At the time of writing, transitive cover of the above dependencies included fontconfig, freetype, glib, libpng, pixman, gettext, libiconv, libjpeg and zlib.

Precompiled version of the dependencies for Windows, built with MinGW, are available from our downlods section (wxWidgets is not included, as it supports MinGW well).

Compiling on Windows using MinGW

  1. First of all, you will need working MinGW installation with MSYS environment and C++ compiler. The instructions on installing MinGW can be found in the MinGW website:

  2. Once installed, launch the MinGW Shell tool. It will open a terminal window; type $ cd /c/directory/with/diff-pdf to do to the directory with diff-pdf sources.

  3. You will need to install additional MinGW components that are not normally included with MinGW, using these commands:

    $ mingw-get install msys-wget
    $ mingw-get install msys-unzip
    $ mingw-get install msys-perl
  4. It's time to build the software now and give it some time to finish (Note that this step requires Internet connectivity, as it downloads some dependencies packages):

    $ make -f Makefile.mingw
  5. If everything went well, diff-pdf is now in the mingw\Products\ directory.


On Unix, the usual make install is sufficient.

On Windows, installation is not necessary, just copy the files somewhere. If you built it following the instructions above, all the necessary files will be in the mingw\Products\ directory.