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.

Read on for how to do it step by step.


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

  1. Glen says:

    That is brilliant! I used to use a program called Combine PDFs, but it is much better built into the system.

  2. wieske says:

    thanks! perfect explanation

  3. Chris says:

    This is awesome and so simple. I knew Leopard had something like this up it’s sleeve, I just never imagined it’d be so easy. I was able to drag multiple PDF files in and I just closed and saved with no hassle at all.

  4. Luffemann says:

    Thanks you´ve just saved my day !

  5. Rob says:

    Cool! Thanks very much.

  6. Moz says:

    This is really cool – spent a while finding software to do this, was even considering paying, but there it was already on my Mac!

    One slight problem though – it seems to massively increase the size of the file. I added a file of 104KB to one of 105KB and it ended up being 4.7MB! Yes MEGA!

  7. toni says:

    thank you so much for the hint!
    but yeah mine got pretty big, too!
    is there a chance of resizing it?

  8. Sara says:

    Thanks! Amazingly simple.

  9. CW says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! I can finally do what I’ve always wanted to do! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  10. Lidwien says:

    Thanks much!

  11. Fabio says:

    Thanks a lot! This is an example of the reason for more and more people becoming Mac users.

  12. adela says:

    you can merge pdf files using ghostscript, it is fast and easy, read more here: http://www.csnotes.net/?p=96

  13. JT says:

    I find that it won’t save the document wilth all the new pages. It just saves the first page.

  14. Bob says:

    Excellent! THanks for this posting. Solved a problem for us… !

  15. Josh says:

    This was fabulous, easy and quick! Thanks for the pointer!

  16. Loren says:

    Life Saver! Why is this information not more easily accessible on the net, so many google searches for how to combine pdfs, but only after a lot of digging did I find this resource. And I was going to buy acrobat, not now!

  17. James says:

    Awesome, cheers for the tip!

  18. Sheethal says:

    Thanks! Worked liked a charm.

  19. Bronte says:

    After fruitless searching I find this tip. Excellent – thank you.

  20. Jim Smith says:

    Thanks, this was great. Now, is there an easy way to convert .pdf files to .txt files? I much prefer these for my ebook reader as they can be edited, re sized, formatted, etc. and require less space in my memory card.

  21. Oliver says:

    Awesome info, thanks. I always thought Mac would be that easy but I just could not get it to work, almost bought a program then saw your posting, and I was right Mac is that easy.


  22. John says:

    Thanks…that helped alot!!

  23. Kavi says:

    Thanks a million… almost downloaded a 780MB PDF merge tool!!

  24. Peter Collins says:

    Mac OS 10.6 seams to have killed this :(

  25. Martin says:

    This now doesnt work the way you suggest. Snow leopard handles preview differently and it only saves one of the pages if you do it this way. This works for Leopard only.

  26. wayne says:

    It does work but you need to drag the new document inside the old one (between the existing pages) not to the end, and then save it. (Strange!) Note you can then drag it back to the end and it works.

  27. Bruce Ward says:

    Thankyou very much. This is a real winner, and so elegant.

  28. Rob says:

    That’s a life saver – Thanks Wayne. I was considering going back to previous version of preview. I’ll try this when I get home.

  29. Simon says:

    You may need to go to “Edit” –> “Insert Blank Page” first (I did) before you can drag pages into your document.

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