Mar 15

Merge 2 pdf files

With every release of OS X Apple seems to slightly change the way to merge two pdf documents. I’ve previously written on how to merge 2 pdf files in Mountain Lion (10.8) and how to merge two pdf files in Lion or earlier. Here’s how to do it in OS X 10.9 Mavericks. 

1. Open the two pdf files in Preview.
Double click on the two pdf files to open them in Preview.

Here are two pdf files on my desktop that I'd like to merge.

Here are two pdf files on my desktop that I’d like to merge.

 

2. Turn on ‘Thumbnails’ for both documents.
There should be an icon in the top left of the preview window where you can turn on ‘Thumbnails’. (See picture below.)  This will open a sidebar on the left where you can see a thumbnail picture of each  page in the pdf file.

Turn on 'Thumbnail' view

Turn on ‘Thumbnails’ view

 

3. Drag a thumbnail to merge it – but read the fine print below!
To combine a page from one pdf into the other pdf file you drag the thumbnail from one of the preview windows onto the thumbnail pane of the other preview window.  In my example  I need to click and then drag one page from 2.pdf to 1.pdf to add my second document to my first.

VERY IMPORTANT: Exactly where you drag the pdf thumbnail to, will change what happens. Do it slowly and don’t release the mouse click until you see what will happen.  Here’s how it works.

(A) If you drop the copied thumbnail  inside the destination thumbnail, a little green plus will appear, and you’ll get a double grey border. This means the new pdf  will be merged into the first pdf.

Here’s what this looks like:

Dropping the new pdf right inside the existing pdf - note the green plus sign and the double grey border.

The green plus sign and a double grey border means these documents will merge.

 

 

(B) If you drop the thumbnail a little bit underneath (south) or above (north) of the destination thumbnail, no green plus will appear, and you’ll get a single grey border. This means the new pdf will not be merged into the first pdf.

Put the new pdf file under the existing one and it will not merge - note there is no plus sign and just a single grey border.

No plus sign and a single grey border – they will not merge.

 

If you want to merge the entire document then you need to select and drag all the pages across.

4. Confirm it worked.
Look at the title in the pdf window. It should indicate 1 document with 2 pages like this:

Window title: One pdf file with 2 pages - it merged!

‘page 1 of 2′ –  it merged!

5. Now you can just choose ‘Save’ and the merged file will be saved.

6. If it looks like this second title (below) with ’2 documents’ in the title, this indicates that it didn’t merge. You may have done something wrong.

Two pdf documents with 1 page each - they did not merge!

’2 documents’ – they did not merge!

You are just viewing 2 documents in the same window.  Don’t worry, all is not lost. You can now choose ‘print’ to print both these documents at once, then click on on ‘Save as PDF’  to print these two documents into one pdf file.

Previous versions of OS X.

This is similar to how it worked in previous versions of OSX (with the double grey border) but slightly different (there is now also a green ‘plus’ sign).

Like previous versions of OS X, while you are viewing the thumbnails  you can drag any number of pages across from any number of pdf files.

You can also delete pages by selecting the page and pressing delete.

You can  rearrange pages by dragging them up or down.

Whatever changes you make will be saved when you select ‘Save’

 

 

8 Responses to “How to merge multiple pdf files with OS X Mavericks 10.9”

  1. So if doc1.pdf has five pages and I want to insert doc2.pdf between pages 3 and 4 of doc1.pdf, where do I drag the doc2.pdf thumbnail to? On top of page 3 thumbnail or between thumbnails 3 & 4?

    • Wayne says:

      “I want to insert doc2.pdf between pages 3 and 4 of doc1.pdf, where do I drag the doc2.pdf thumbnail to?”

      Drag it ON TOP OF page 3 or 4 thumbnail (so it merges), NOT between them (or else jot won’t merge). If it is not where you want, AFTER you drop it just move it around by dragging it and letting go between pages 3 and 4 thumbnails.

  2. Ragnar says:

    Life Saver!!! Thank you very much. The help file on the Preview app is wrong and suggests that you do an “Export”. There are 2 options for Export (Not described in the help) One being Export which ONLY saves another copy of the selected File, and Export as PDF which creates one file per contained file. Even this is very simple like you post, Apple doesn’t publish this anywhere.

  3. Marcel says:

    No matter how hard I try, I won’t get the green plus, and they remain just two separate documents. Bit of a bummer when scanning because since OS X Maverick HP scan stopped working properly. The only way of scanning is using Preview, single pages at the time (or am I missing something?)

    • Wayne says:

      Most likely you are trying to merge 2 files that are not pdf files. Convert them to pdf first, (‘print’ – ‘save as pdf’) then merge them.

  4. Flatlander says:

    Thanks for the guidance on this procedure. I had my documents in PICT format and figured out I had to put them in PDF format by going through Preview>Export as PDF. I was then able to go through with your steps. Similar to Ragnar’s post. Also, the grey frame only showed up on the initial merging and the other pages just had the green + and merged without the frame and no problems. Much appreciated!

  5. Beth says:

    Thank you soooooooooooooo much! The small change with the green plus sign had completely escaped me and I was getting so frustrated with the inability to do something that I was used to! Thanks for clearing this up. Even the Apple Support forums aren’t making this clear (at least that I can find)…

  6. Luke says:

    Thanks for the post! Although I can not get the green plus on my documents. I’m trying to merge two 26 page PDF’s and I’ve followed your steps above without luck. I can merge a one page document into one of the 26 page docs but not the two multiple page PDF’s together. Any suggestions on how I can get this to work?

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