How to Join Multiple PDF Files Into a Single PDF Document in Mac OS X
If you have multiple PDF files that you want to combine into a single PDF file, you can rely on the Macs bundled Preview app to accomplish this. Not only can Preview combine a variety of single or multi-page PDF docs into a single file, you can even add images as pages, remove a page from an existing file if it’s unnecessary to have in the joined doc, or rearrange the pages of the joined files to be reordered according to your needs. The end result will be a single merged PDF document that contains every page and input file that you need.
Some apps make this task overly complicated, but Preview makes combining the highly portable and multi-platform pdf files incredibly simple, offering drag & drop ease. Perhaps best of all, you certainly don’t need to pay big extra bucks for a fancy PDF editor application when the Mac has the tools directly within Mac OS X. That’s what we’re covering here, with a step by step guide showing you how to quickly join a variety of these docs into a single file.
Combining Several PDF Files Into a Single PDF using Mac Preview
This will demonstrate combining multiple files, adding additional files, removing pages, reordering pages, and exporting as a single merged .pdf file of all the joined contents:
- Open one of the PDF files into the Preview app of Mac OS X
- Click on the Thumbnails button and choose “Thumbnails” to open the side drawer of PDF pages (do this even if one of the PDF files is only a single page length) – this can also be accessed from the “View” menu by choosing “Thumbnails”
- Now go to the Mac Finder and locate the additional PDF file you want to join to the one that is already opened in Preview app
- Drag and drop the additional PDF file from the Finder into the Thumbnail drawer of Preview app to instantly add it to the PDF – this adds the dropped PDF’s into the already open PDF doc, effectively combining them. You can repeat this with as many other PDF documents as necessary
- To add an image file as a page, simply drag an image file into the Thumbnail drawer
- To reorder the pages of the combined PDF, simply drag and drop them within the Thumbnail drawer to their appropriate position
- To remove a page, simply select it and hit the “delete” key to drop it
- “Print”, then choose “Save as PDF” – this works in MacOS Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks
- “Export as PDF” (normal saving does not work reliably to join the PDF files together, this is likely a bug) – works in prior releases of Mac OS X
You can always double-check that it worked by re-launching the freshly created PDF document that you just exported from Preview app, it will contain all of the PDF files that you dragged & dropped into the Thumbnails app to join them.
That’s all there is to it, remarkably simple, and it’s free and universally supported (for Macs anyway) since Preview is bundled in every single version of Mac OS X. This is by far the best way to merge PDF files on the Mac.
One thing to note about older versions of Preview app is the “Export to PDF” option is not always available, thus these older versions of Preview can still successfully export the combined files as one either by choosing the “Save As” option, or by using the traditional Print to PDF option that is available through the Print menu in all versions of Mac OS.
Quick side note: joined PDF’s can often be quite large, if the resulting file is too large you can reduce the file size by adjusting the Quartz filter used. While this reduces the file size, it can also reduce the quality of the images and artwork within a document, so it’s best used for text heavy docs where image sharpness doesn’t matter as much.
Have any questions or comments about merging multiple PDF files into a single PDF document? Let us know in the comments.