Feb 10


Combining pdf documents on an Apple computer is easy.

There are lots of websites offering software to merge PDF files, but you don’t need a third party program to do it. It’s built right in to OS X for free.

OS X comes with a free application called ‘Preview’ that will open automatically whenever you click on a pdf file. It turns out that Preview can edit and merge pdf files!

Preview app

You can merge PDF files using the built in ‘Preview’ application that comes for free with OSX.

Exactly how you do this varies depending on which version of OSX that you have. The concept is the same but the step by step pictures will look slightly different.

Please click on the version of OSX that you have to find out how to merge a pdf file:

How to merge PDF files in Mountain Lion 10.8 (2012)

How to merge PDF files in Mavericks 10.9 (2013)

How to merge PDF files in Yosemite (10.10) (2014)

How to merge PDF files in El Capitan (10.11) (2015)

For all versions of OS X prior to Mountain Lion (10.7 and earlier)  just follow the instructions below.


To join two or more pdf files together using Preview:

1 Open the pdf file in preview.

2. Open the thumbnail view (Shift-⌘-D)

3. Drag a second pdf ON TOP OF an existing page  thumbnail.

When you drag in step 3 it must drag to on top of the thumbnail, as in over it, not above it.

This is a bit hard to explain, the best way to grasp the concept is to look at the pictures below.

WRONG WAY: If you drag the new pdf file underneath (or above) the existing pdf they are not merged – it will only insert a thumbnail link to the pdf.

RIGHT WAY: Drag the new pdf file on top of the existing one and they will merge into one – creating one pdf document out of the two. (Notice the extra grey border compared to the left photo.)




SUMMARY: To combine two separate PDF files into one document you need to drag the new pdf ON TOP OF an existing  thumbnail until the grey border appears – then it will merge the two pdfs together.  (You can then save the new merged pdf.) 

If you drag it into the sidebar but not on top of an existing page the new file will be added as an external link – not merged into the original pdf document.


If you’d like more information, read on for how to do it step by step with photos.


577 Responses to “How to merge two pdf files in OSX 10.6 – 10.11”

  1. John says:

    Here’s a challenge for some brave soul. I am trying to combine PDF text files and am encountering difficulties with the search function once I have saved the new, larger file. Upon putting two pdf’s together, I can search them and there’s no issue. After saving the file however, the search function is lost (or, to be more specific, goes awry: for example, I’ll type in an “m” and it highlights “t”s instead). Why the search function should be lost after saving is a total mystery to me. Any thoughts/suggestions?

  2. John says:

    In my last point, immediately above, I meant the “Search” function.

  3. Jordan says:

    Simon, thanks for your comment; didn’t work for me until I did the “insert blank page” as you suggested.

  4. JoeLee says:

    I am using Snow Leopard, and can combine pdf’s to view, but whenever I save and re-open – only the original page will show. I have tried the tips above, once I close it after saving I am lost what I have added.

  5. Dean says:

    I am experiencing the same problem as John. I am combining multiple pdf’s all of which are searchable in the Acrobat Reader. After I combine all of the files with Preview, the merged document is no longer searchable. The Acrobat Reader always returns the “no match found” message. Any thoughts?

  6. washtook says:

    This does work. If you want to combine multiple images into one document;
    1. Open 1st image.
    2. Save as PDF
    3 Drag 2nd image onto 1st image in drawer.
    4 repeat with all images and the save.

  7. Aman says:

    Awesome! Almost there…only one problem after combining PDF’s the the first PDF shrank..then if I zoom in on the first one the following PDF’s become oversized! Not sure how to solve the problem. Any help would be much appreciated!! Thanks

  8. Steve says:

    Wayne, you’re a genius. Thanks for sharing this tip. I was trying to work this out this afternoon, searched on Google and you were first! Nice work on the search rankings!

  9. donna says:

    I find I can only search and annotate the first part of the document – but not the added sections. Any ideas?

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