How to Combine Files Into a PDF on Mac

Jan 5, 2021 - 12 Comments

How to Combine Files Into a PDF on Mac

Have a variety of files you’d like to combine into a single PDF file? You can do that right on the Mac.

Perhaps you have a handful of documents you’re working with, or perhaps you need to send along multiple PDF files via email. When appropriate, you can combine these files into a single PDF file and then work with that document easily.

Merging PDF files may be necessary when there are different pages to combine into a single document. Many users may rely on using a third-party PDF editor to accomplish this task, but you can do this without installing any app on your Mac. This is possible in several ways, including using Preview, but what we’ll be covering here is by using the ‘Create PDF’ Quick Action on macOS.

Let’s take a look at using Quick Actions to combine different files into a single PDF file on your Mac. And the input files don’t even need to be PDF documents, they can be images or other file formats too.

How to Combine Files Into a PDF on Mac

Accessing the Create PDF Quick Action is a pretty simple and straightforward procedure on your Mac.

  1. Launch the Finder app on your Mac from the Dock.

    How to Combine Files Into a PDF on Mac
  2. Head over to the directory where your files are stored. Hold the Command key and click on the files to select the ones you want to combine.

    How to Combine Files Into a PDF on Mac
  3. Next, right-click or Control-click to access various options. Here, select “Quick Actions” which is located at the bottom.

    How to Combine Files Into a PDF on Mac
  4. Now, click on “Create PDF” to combine the files you selected.

    How to Combine Files Into a PDF on Mac
  5. The combined file will be automatically created with a name similar to the first file you selected. However, you’ll have the option to rename the final file as shown in the screenshot below.

    How to Combine Files Into a PDF on Mac

That’s pretty much all there is to it. Now you know how easy it is to combine files into a single PDF file on your Mac.

As you can see, this is arguably the easiest way to combine multiple PDF documents into a single file on macOS. Plus, you don’t have to spend any money on third-party PDF editing apps to get this done, since this functionality is built into all recent versions of macOS.

You can also select the files in Finder and use the Create PDF button in the Preview pane of a Finder window. If you can’t find the preview pane, it needs to be enabled first. Click on “View” from the menu bar and choose “Show Preview” from the dropdown menu.

Note the Mac must be running macOS Mojave or later to take advantage of this method to combine files. If you’re using an older version of Mac system software, you can instead rely on joining multiple PDF files into one with Preview instead, a method that also still works in modern macOS releases too by the way. If your Mac is running an older version of macOS or Mac OS X, you can use Mac Preview to combine multiple files, add additional files, remove pages from a PDF, and export as a single merged PDF file on your computer too.

Is the combined PDF file too large? This is pretty common, but you can reduce the file size by using a trick to adjust the Quartz filter used. However, doing this will also degrade the quality of the images and artwork within the document.

So how did it go? Were you successful in merging multiple PDF files into a single document with this Quick Action? What’s your take on this Quick Action method? Let us know your experiences and thoughts in the comments.

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Posted by: Hamlin Rozario in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

12 Comments

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  1. Trevor says:

    Brilliant. Might be down and dirty for some but for a lot of situations that only require a quick eyeball by an offsite party of various documents or pics scattered hither and yon it’s a time saver. And an added bonus, it saves on third party apps.

  2. Maddie says:

    Whew! This article was timely. Just used this great tip.

    I have combined PDF’s in the past but never often enough to remember how to do it a year or more later.
    This was even easier than previous times using the thumbnail viewer in Preview.

    Thanks!

  3. Joe Debono says:

    You lost me at “Launch the Finder” as well as calling folders “directories”.

    • Paul says:

      Joe, it may seem overwhelming at first if you haven’t used certain features on the Mac, but try following the instructions and you should get the hang of it. Best of luck!

      – Paul

      • Misha says:

        Paul, I don’t think that’s what Joe meant… You don’t “launch” finder, and as MacOS users, we don’t call them “directories” but folders. It’s all about nomenclature.

  4. Pieter says:

    Forgot to say I’m running MacOS Catalina 10.15.7

  5. Pieter says:

    Same here!

  6. Kevin says:

    Sounds like a good idea, however I use a different method as the higher-compression quartz filter in a Mac makes the file fuzzy.

    My method makes much smaller PDF files that look as clear as the original, and allows placement of pages in any order, but takes longer.

    Open the Pdf pages in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements with resolution set to 150 dpi. (Detailed graphics are best at say 200 dpi for that page only.)

    Save each individual page using “Save for Web” as a .jpg set to at least 40. Import all the pages to “Pages” App in the order you prefer. Save as a PDF or share via Mail as a PDF set to the best quality.

    The result is a small PDF with near original clarity, in any page order you like. You can even add new text and photographs anywhere. A fully custom document.

    • no way says:

      There is a much easier way, open any pdf you want to be part of the combo pdf, click the drop down menu top right to show thumbnails and then drag and drop what you want into the sidebar in whatever order you want. When ready hold option and click file-save as, and rename as you wish and save where you wish.

      No 3rd party application required.

  7. Grace Lidia Suarez says:

    Same here. Not seeing the option

  8. Marty says:

    I’m running Mac OS 10.15.7 and the Quick Action you describe is not available by default. Am I missing something?

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