Mac: Combine several PDF documents into one with the preview

Merge PDF files into one large file

Don't ask why, but today I had to create a PDF document from a folder with over 30 individual PDF files. My first thought was that I would certainly do this with Adobe Acrobat, but then it occurred to me that it might also work with the Preview.App on the Mac.

Open the first file, insert the rest

The way to do this is as follows:

  1. mark the first PDF file in the Finder and use CMD + D to create a duplicate as a backup
  2. then open the first PDF file in the "Preview" app
  3. select the menu item File> Edit> Insert> Page (s) from file
  4. then select all the PDF files to be added to the first one
  5. ready
To add more documents as pages, you can select them using the "Insert" command in the "Edit" menu.

To add more documents as pages, you can select them using the "Insert" command in the "Edit" menu.

You should now have a large PDF document with all the pages from the other PDFs. You can get a good overview if you activate the sidebar with the thumbnails in Preview.

Change the order of the pages in the PDF

If you now notice that the order of the pages is not 100 percent correct, you can also grab individual pages with the mouse in the sidebar with the thumbnails and drag them up or down in the order. You should then insert yourself between the pages where you released the mouse button.

Here you can see the menu items, which you can use to get to the appropriate command to compile the PDF.

Here you can see the menu items, which you can use to get to the appropriate command to compile the PDF.

Why backup the first file?

I always make a duplicate of the first PDF file as the preview app has a habit of changing the file immediately when you import other pages. If something went wrong, the first PDF file would have been destroyed in principle. But with the duplicate you still have a backup at hand.

The PDF-Expert app is for people who would like to edit PDFs more often.

The PDF-Expert app is for people who would like to edit PDFs more often.

Advanced PDF editing

A tip on the subject of PDF editing: The software developers at Readdle (should be known to everyone about the great, free tool "Documents"For iPad and iPhone) also have paid Mac software for editing PDFs in their portfolio: PDF Expert.

The app is a very practical thing if you have to make changes to PDFs frequently. The preview app can also edit a few things on PDFs, but I find the options a little less comfortable.

I will certainly give the PDF Expert app a little review soon, but that would go beyond the scope of this article.

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2 comments

  1. Beatrix Willius says:

    First of all, I would always work with a copy of the first file. Then Combine PDFs is surely easier to use (https://www.monkeybreadsoftware.de/Software/CombinePDFs.shtml).

    • Jens Kleinholz says:

      Hello Beatrix! That's exactly how I wrote it in the text: Always make a backup of the first file. : D
      And thanks for the reference to CombinePDFs. It'll work out fine, but I don't like uploading my accounting records to any online service ... I'm a little reluctant to do so. If it's only about 20 PDFs with handicraft instructions, I wouldn't have a problem with that either.

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