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. 

John has just posted a much easier method of doing this in a comment below. Thanks John, here it is:

1. Double click your first pdf document to open it with Preview, the built in mac OSX.

2. Go to the “Edit” drop down menu, find “Insert” and then “Page from File…”

3. Click on the file (or files) that you wish to import.

After this…

You can delete pages by selecting the page in the page thumbnails and pressing delete.

You can rearrange pages by selecting the page in the page thumbnails and dragging it up or down.

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

Make sure all files are pdf files…if you’re using .doc files, save them as pdf first.


63 Responses to “How to combine 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?

    • Alex says:

      You need to make sure the document is not in ‘collapsed’ mode.
      if you click the tiny grey triangle at the top left next to the document name, you can then drag the other documents into that document to add them.

  7. Thanks! Works great and saved me money because I was about to go and buy an app for a relatively simple merge-job.

  8. Fran says:

    THANK YOU! for explaining that a slight overlap was necessary to get the Green +. Had been dragging them “perfectly” (over and over again) and could not understand why the pages weren’t merging!

  9. Tom says:

    I can add one pdf to another one as indicated above, but when I try to add a third pdf to the combined one, no green plus. If I close Preview and reopen, I can add one pdf, but no more. Nor can I select multiple pdfs and add them all at once. I used to be able to do this before Mavericks.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. In archiving pdfs, I like to combine a year’s worth into a single pdf.

    • Wayne says:

      To do a huge archive, like a year’s worth, just select them all in finder, click and they will all open in one preview window, then choose ‘print’, then choose PDF:save to pdf (bottom left of print dialog). It will save them all to one pdf.

  10. Robert W says:

    I’ve tried this several times, and this does not work for me. Does this only work for merging two PDFs? Before, you could drag pages from one and they merged into the target PDF, but every time I try to do that, the green “plus” appears and then swiftly disappears, no matter what I do, where I move the page in the thumbnails of the target document. Therefore, when I let go of the mouse, it doesn’t actually merge. Perhaps it is only me with this problem, but it is seriously irritating me. Thanks in advance.

  11. Crystal says:

    When I try to merge pdf files in preview when I hold the thumbnails over each other I do not get a green plus sign… Can anyone help with this?

  12. Deby says:

    I have transferred single multiple pages on my mac into one file and it works great but why is it that when I transfer them to my iPad they overlap?

  13. Brooke says:

    I started with 5 PDF files, I was able to merge two files into one and the other three into another. I’m looking at two files on top of each other in the thumbnail view on the side, but I can’t get the two to merge into each other. Help?

  14. Paul says:

    Apple talks about good design. But this user interface is horrible.

  15. Susan says:

    Thank you for the explanation.This worked great. Make sure the documents are in pdf format. I made that mistake earlier.

  16. MC says:

    Thanks for this info! This is a tremendous help!

  17. John Darling says:

    Much easier way to do this:

    1. Open your first document with preview
    2. Go to edit drop down menu, find “insert” and then “page from file”
    3. click on the file you wish to import.

    This adds the second file to the end of the first one. You can change the page order manually after that. Make sure all files are pdf files…if you’re using .doc files, save them as pdf first.

    • Brittany says:

      Thanks!! That actually worked, whereas on my Mac (Maverics 10.9.3) what the article writer said to do was NOT working at all. The only way to get the green arrow was to use Option while dragging but that only created another file of the same file I was dragging. Your method worked like a charm, thanks, John!

    • Wayne says:

      Thanks John that’s a great tip.

  18. John Whitehead says:

    This was a life saver: very many thanks.

    Apple’s help system is always frustrating because it’s so slow and clunky but when it’s downright wrong as well it’s enormously frustrating. I think we need a campaign to make them take Help seriously again…

    I can feel an online petition coming on.


  19. Crystal says:

    John Darling, that comment was soooo helpful! I selected one pdf, drug it into the previewer. Then hit insert and selected 21 other files and it worked perfectly. Thank you!!!

  20. Ayla Hourani says:

    Thank you. Easy, straightforward and works like magic! Took me ages to figure that one out lol

  21. laj says:

    THANK YOU! This was so helpful. I had about given up on being able to do this. So glad I found your clear explanation.

  22. Marnie says:

    Thank you so much!! What a help. I’ve been fiddling around for nearly an hour with this but you solved it in 3 min. flat.

  23. guillaume says:

    Anybody know how to prevent preview from automatically renumbering the pdf after inserting pages ?

  24. Rabia says:

    It worked for me as I was trying to merge two documents. I will definitely try for multiple documents also.

  25. Paul says:

    Thanks!! That is the first time an instruction for Mac was clear and worked on the first attempt!! You saved me many minutes of frustration. Now I Mac could only figure out how to save one document as one PDF from the beginning (when there are several formats in one document, tables etc. it saves each section as a different document, a pain in the ass). Thanks again

  26. BigBen says:

    Thank you, that was most helpful. The illustrations are great!

  27. Bobbi says:

    Thank you! No one was was getting it right.

  28. Ginger says:

    Thank you! This was definitely helpful!

  29. maureen says:

    Thank you! Very helpful.

  30. A Rem says:

    Thanks very very helpful and easy.

  31. Beth says:

    This was very helpful, but now how do you keep the orientation of separate pdf’s from rotating when merging the file. For example the first file is in portrait and the second file is in landscape and then the third file is portrait again, but they all merged into portrait.

  32. Beth says:

    Ok I figured it out. After you have added the pdf’s together and have clicked File>Print, you MUST uncheck Auto Rotate for the orientation to stay as you want it! Hopefully this helps others

  33. tim says:

    Good god, thank you! I’d been dragging and dropping and it just wouldn’t save properly! i appreciate both the new tip AND especially the information i needed: drag the new PDF *onto* the destination PDF!

  34. naveen says:

    Thanks a lot. It helped.

  35. Well I almost had it! But my pages are not in order. You didn’t mention what order to merge your files if you want pages in a certain order. I tried to drag them, to fix it, not good.

  36. Zorba says:

    Thank you. Why Apple insists on screwing this up is beyond me, this is (now) totally non-intuitive! I kept wondering why I only had a 1 page PDF after trying to combine 8 pages the way I’d always done it. What good is this “non merge option”? If I didn’t want to merge the file, I wouldn’t have dragged the thumbnails across!

  37. Jamie says:

    AWESOME. Thanks

  38. Virginia says:

    I can’t thank you enough for the excellent help. Very grateful, indeed.

  39. Helen says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! This was so helpful!

  40. K says:

    I love you. Apple literally gives incorrect info, and I’ve been driving myself crazy for +20 min trying to figure this out. Bless you!

  41. mirkwood says:

    thank you! did the trick!

  42. Liliana says:

    Thank you, good explanation, I tried some others instructions and this one was very helpful, thank you very much!!!

  43. Brian says:

    Hi! I’ve merged three pdfs using the ‘preview’ facility. Separately they weigh in at 7.2MB. Merged, 55.2MB!!! Is there any easy way to get the merged file back to something approaching 7MB?

  44. Fernando says:

    Hi, I was looking for easy instructions to urgently merge some documents, it was so easy that left me some time to write this feedback, thank you!

  45. Cim says:

    If there are several documents to be merged, there is an easier way. Select all the documents you wish to merge. Open them simultaneously be pressing Command-O. Go to ‘Print…’ Under the PDF pull-down menu, select ‘Open PDF in Preview’.
    These instructions may seem longer, but the instructions in your tutorial must be redone for every page, but this need be done only once. Pages can be reordered prior to the Print… stage.

    • Wayne says:

      Thanks Lucidita, that would work too.
      Your way merges them at the point when you ‘Print’ them to Preview.
      The way in this article merges them as they are opened the first time in Preview.
      Both will work.
      There are other ways to do it too. Probably the fastest for a lot of files is to select the files in finder and double click them to open them all in Preview. Then ‘Print’ and ‘Save to PDF’

  46. Kalyani says:

    Very helpful! Just upgraded to El Capitan and was trying the old way which does not work any more…

    • Tim says:

      Using the Print command was the only way that worked for me. When trying to File–>Save, only one pdf of the several I had attempted to merge was saved.

      File–>Print–>PDF–>Save as PDF, then entering a new name and location is what worked for me. Many thanks to Cim and Wayne!

  47. ELfstar says:

    You Rock!! the apple website explanation never worked, and yours worked flawlessly!

  48. Chels says:

    Yes! Worked like a charm! Thank you!!!

  49. Mark says:

    tried to follow the basic instructions but when I select Edit – Insert the options are not available (can’t be selected). Why? thanks

  50. Jeff Stein says:

    Wayne, thank you! That saved me aggravation and time. Great technique.
    Jeff from Boston

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2013 Wayne Connor. All rights reserved. | Hosted on Click here to find out why.