Nowadays, there are various tools available to create a PDF document. You can even use Microsoft Word app to create a PDF document. Though PDF helps to protect editing by others, sometimes you simply need to rearrange pages in a PDF document. Similarly, you may want to combine multiple files and create a single PDF file without editing the content. In these situations, you can use the default apps available in your Mac to get things done.
Rearranging Pages and Combining PDF in Mac
Before proceeding, let us explain the scenarios with examples. Let us say, you have two PDF files each with two pages.
- PDF 1 – Page 1 and Page 2
- PDF 2 – Page 3 and Page 4
Combining is to simply merge all four pages in a single file named PDF 3. However, the pages can be rearranged in any orders like 1, 2, 3, 4 or 4, 3, 2, 1 or 3, 2, 1, 4. Depending upon the situation there are two methods available in Mac for combining multiple PDF files into a single one.
1. Using Preview App to Combine PDF and Rearrange Pages
Many Mac users do not know that Preview app has lot of in-built capabilities. One such feature is to drag and drop pages from one PDF document to other.
- First make sure to keep the original copies of your files before you combine them. For duplicating files in Mac, first select the files and then control click on them (right-click). Select “New Folder with Selection” option from the context menu to create a new folder with the files. Again, right-click on the new folder and then select “Duplicate” to create another folder with all the files duplicated.
- You can also use “Command + C” to copy the files and then paste them in different location using “Command + V” shortcuts.
- Now, open the PDF files you want to merge in Preview app. By default, double clicking on PDF file will open it with Preview app. Otherwise, you can select the files, right-click on them and select “Open With > Preview” option.
- Arrange the PDF file one on other in a manner both are visible like below.
- Select the first file, go to “View” menu and click on “Thumbnails” option. Do the same thing for the second file to enable previewing of pages in the sidebar.
- Now your files will look like below with page previews in the sidebar.
- Simply drag the pages from one file to other and drop where you want to insert. For example, you can drag the page 1 from PDF 1 file and drop after page 1 of PDF 2 file. In this case, PDF 2 file will be modified and PDF 1 file will be the same.
- Similarly, drag and drop all the pages from PDF 1 to PDF 2.
- You can drag and move the page thumbnails up or down to rearrange the pages.
If required, you can select any page thumbnail and press “Delete” key to delete the page. When the file is ready, press “Command + S” to save the changes. In this way, you can combine any number of PDF files, delete unnecessary pages and rearrange the page order to create a single file.
2. Combine PDF Files Using Shortcuts App
Though Preview app is the easiest method, it will be a long task when you have you more than two PDF files to merge. So, the next option is to use Shortcuts app by creating a workflow. We will create a simple workflow with three steps – select files, combine PDF and save the merged file.
- Open Shortcuts app and go to “File > New Shortcut” menu.
- Name the shortcut as “Combine PDF” and type “file” in the search box available on right pane. This will filter all apps and actions related to file.
- Under “Documents” section, drag “Select File” action and drop in the build shortcut left pane.
- Click “Show More” link and check the “Select Multiple” option. This will allow you to select multiple PDF files for combining.
- As a next step, search for “pdf” and insert “Make PDF” action to your shortcut.
- This action has three options and the first option is for including margin in the merged PDF document. Next option is to include all pages, single page or a range of selection. Final option is to set the merge behavior as append or shuffle. Appending will simply sort the selected files based on their names and combine the pages as per the set include rule. Shuffling is to combine the corresponding pages from all selected documents like all first pages, next all second pages and so on.
- For both include and merge behavior, you can set “Ask Each Time” so that you can choose the action when running the shortcut. This is useful to use the same shortcut for merging files with different logics.
- In our example, we will ignore the margin, include “All Pages” and “Append” the documents.
- The final step is to search and add “Save File” action in the shortcut workflow. Check “Ask Where To Save” box so that you can choose the location for saving output PDF file.
The final shortcut workflow will look like below and press “Command + S” to save your changes. It is possible to run the shortcut from here by clicking on the run button. However, close the screen and we will run it from the home screen of Shortcuts app.
You can see the “Combine PDF” shortcut shows under “All Shortcuts” section on the home screen of the app. Hover over the shortcut and click on the run button.
You need to first select the input files (step 1), the shortcut will automatically append the content (step 2) and then select the location for saving your output file (step 3). We have selected “PDF 1” and “PDF 2” files and the shortcut combined the files and created “PDF 1-2” file as shown below.
If everything works fine, right click on the shortcut and select “Add to Dock”. This will help to quickly open the shortcut and combine your PDF files. If required, you can also add the shortcut as “Quick Action” or “Services” in Finder app. For this, double click and open the shortcut. Click on “Shortcut Details” icon and go to “Details” tab. Here, you can enable “Finder” and “Services Menu” options under “Use as Quick Action”.
Save your changes and you can see the “Combine PDF” shortcut will instantly appear in “Finder > Services” menu and in Quick Action section below the file preview in Finder app.
Note: Automator app also has “Combine PDF Pages” action. However, this is no more working from macOS Monterey and throws error “”The action “Combine PDF Pages” encountered an error: The operation couldn’t be completed. Command line tool returned error 127.: 127”. Using Shortcuts app is the alternate option to combine PDF files.
Now you know how to combine PDF files and merge the pages in Mac without any third-party apps. You can use Preview app for simple task while Shortcuts can be used for complex workflow with inputs.