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Quickstart: open a couple of Excel spreadsheets

You have options for how to get your file into Beyond Compare. You can type Ctl-T and then click at (1) to start an emptyTable Compare, followed by browsing for your file from the
. Or you can highlight the files at (2) and rightclick compare from your mouse. (If yours is not working check out here: Tools->Options->ExplorerIntegration.) Or you can grab the files from (2) and mouse-drag them over to (1).
Files in Windows Explorer (left) and the BC homescreen from pressing Ctl-T (right)
The two files will open in a Table Compare session. You should see Table Compare above the menu:
If you don't, try again, this time with Session->NewSession->TableCompare.
Now, with Beyond Compare Table compare open, you will see your files, with many colored stripes and some of the letters perhaps colored as well, if there are file differences.
Near the top of each panel we see various info:
MS Excel workbooks means that BC thinks this is an Excel file, based on the .xls or .csv filename ending. Beyond Compare has a long list of how it opens different filenames. You can see this list, and customize it, at Tools->FileFormats.
Converted means that what you are seeing is the end result of a raw input file going through some kind of formatting on its way to the display panel.
PC indicates a type of line-ending style based on the OS that made the original file. The other possibilities for that are OSX, Linux, and Mixed.
The normal default colors for Beyond Compare
Notice the letter colors. Beyond Compare checks every single letter. Black letters are an exact match, red letters are a mismatch.
Notice the background color stripes. Beyond Compare considers differences unimportant or important, and issues an appropriate color, either blue or pink, respectively.
In the example shown above, the blue lines are
You may have noticed the line numbers are all topsy turvy!
Table Compare shakes the order up to find lines that go together. Among the types of BC session, only Table Compare does this. The line numbers indicate the line position in the original file. By the way, don't worry, BC treats Table Compare files as Read-Only, so nothing is being destroyed in your precious Excel sheet. Beyond Compare is actually unable to edit an Excel file (nor a PDF file nor a Word Doc).
You can turn off this line shakeup, by the way. From the menu choose Session->SessionSettings->Alignment->Unaligned.
Again, don't worry: nothing is being disturbed in your original files. Behind the scenes this is all being done on a temp file that is destroyed when you turn off the program. Beyond Compare cannot save a spreadsheet format file anyhow.