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How to Combine and Merge PDF Files (Mac and Windows)

The benefit of digital workflows is more than just efficiency; it’s going paperless. It’s great for the environment and saves you from all the clutter that paper trail creates. What’s more, regular documents and PDFs don’t consume a lot of digital space and are easy to organize. You don’t need a 1 TB external hard drive just to store everything. However, the one thing that isn’t great about digital files is when there are pages you need to compile. What if two departments submit different PDFs that need to be combined? You can’t just staple them or put them in a binder. However, you can merge them. Here’s how to combine PDF files on Mac and Windows for the ultimate organization hack.

 

Should You Use Online Apps? 

So, you want to learn how to combine PDF files. If you consulted Google first, you would find a bunch of online PDF converters. Most of them are free to use so you can combine and even edit your files. While you can use these services casually, we highly advise practicing caution in selecting ones that can preserve your privacy and data security. 

Many online converters collect your metadata (the hidden information within your documents) to use for profit. Whether it’s through selling or utilizing your data in some way, free services like these always come with a catch. They may even find identification about you and the system you’re using.

Therefore, it’s best to use trusted methods on both Windows and Mac. Usually, learning how to combine PDF files on Windows will require you to download a third-party app. On the other hand, Mac users have a native combine PDF function so it’ll be a lot easier for them. Either way, we don’t recommend you use free online services for your PDF files unless you’re truly desperate. Nonetheless, we’ll still include a tutorial for that in case you need it.

 

How to Combine PDF Files on Windows

Combine or split existing PDF documents
© Photo by Adobe Acrobat

With that said, let’s tackle how to combine PDF files on Windows. If you’re a MacBook user, you can skip this part and head straight to the instructions for Mac. Otherwise, let’s learn how to combine PDF files on Windows. 

 

Finding the Right Third-Party Application

You can learn how to combine PDF files using third-party apps, but they don’t all offer the same features. Free versions of these apps are somewhat limited but they can get the job done. However, paid commercial apps are a great option to consider if you want something more full-featured. 

If you want a free app, check out the free version of PDFsam. It can do a lot of the basics you need with your PDF files. Another good option to try is to use PDF Merger & Splitter. It’s a free app available in the Microsoft Store. 

 

How to Combine PDF Files Using PDF Merger & Splitter

We’ll use PDF Merger & Splitter to teach you how to combine PDF files for free. To combine PDF on Windows, follow the given steps:

How To Combine PDF Files Using PDF Merger & Splitter
© Photo by Microsoft Store
  1. Go to the Microsoft Store and download the app
  2. After installation, open PDF Merger & Splitter. You can search for it on your desktop taskbar.
  3. Once the app is open, choose the option Merge or Split, depending on what you need. Choose Merge if all you need to do is to merge two documents without altering anything. On the other hand, if you need to change page orders, choose Split.
  4. Click on Add PDFs and choose the files that you want to combine. You can sort them by name or move them up or down on your document. Moreover, you can also preview your merged file to ensure that you have what you need.
  5. Afterward, you can click on Merge to finalize your new combined PDF file. Input the name of your new file and save your PDF.

When you choose the Split option, you can customize your document a bit more. You can change page orders and remove certain pages that you don’t need in your final document. Within split mode, you can choose the pages (or page range) you want to exclude. Afterward, proceed as normal and save your file as a PDF. You can also save as individual PDFs depending on your needs.

 

How to Combine PDF Files Using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Another good software you can use is Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. It’s probably one of the most well-known PDF reader and editor brands that’s available on the market. However, it is a premium software, meaning you have to buy it to get the full features. Conversely, there is a free trial you can use to see if it has the PDF editing features you need. 

We’ll give you a tutorial on how to combine PDF files using Adobe Acrobat’s free trial. You can do this all in one go to not waste your free trial. However, if you merge PDF files often, you might want to invest in it altogether. To merge with Adobe Acrobat, follow these steps:

How To Combine PDF Files Using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC
© Photo by Adobe Acrobat
  1. Go to their website then download and install the free trial for Adobe Acrobat Pro DC
  2. Afterward, launch the application and hit on Tools on the upper-left
  3. You should find the option to Combine Files, click on that.
  4. Then, you’ll find an Add Files button so you can add all your PDF files. Click on it and select the ones you want to merge.
    Note: you can merge more file types than just PDF files. That’s why investing in a good PDF reader and editor can be great if you need this type of feature.
  5. After selecting your PDFs, click on Combine Files
  6. You should find that all your files are now merged into one PDF file. Just save it to the destination folder of your choice. To do this, click on File on the upper-left menu and select Save As. Afterward, a window should pop up to help you save. Input the file name and select the destination folder from your local storage.
combine merge pdf file
© Photo by Adobe Acrobat

 

How to Combine PDF Files On Mac

Mac users can rejoice because learning how to combine PDF files on Mac is easy. You have two main options for combining PDF files on Mac: using the native Preview app or utilizing Finder.

 

How to Combine PDF Files on Mac Using the Preview App

Unlike Windows, Mac has a native solution for combining PDFs using Preview. Two possible methods exist depending on how you want to merge your PDF. The first method is to combine two PDFs without editing anything. However, if you need only parts of a PDF to combine with another PDF, head to the second method.

 

First Method: Merge PDFs Without Edits

With both methods, we’ll use Preview to combine your PDF files. To combine PDF on Mac without alteration, follow these steps:

Merge PDFs Without Edits
© Photo by Apple Support
  1. Open your PDF file within Preview
  2. In Preview, go to View and then navigate to Thumbnails. Afterward, you should see your PDF’s pages as thumbnails on the side.
  3. You might need to insert the other PDF somewhere between the pages of this current PDF. To do so, select the thumbnail of the page where you want your other PDF file to be inserted.
  4. Select Edit and then Insert. Then, select Page from File.
    Note: there may be some PDF files you can’t merge this way. You’ll know if you can’t merge the file if it’s dimmed and unclickable. That’s because these files have encryptions that restrict users from merging them. Check out your PDF file’s permissions. To do so, just head to Tools > Show Inspector and then select the lock icon. If your PDF file is encrypted, you might need to ask for an un-encrypted version from the sender.
  5. Once you’ve found your PDF file, select it, and click on Open.
  6. Click on File then Export as PDF so you can save your file.

 

Second Method: Merge PDFs With Edits

If you only want to combine parts of a PDF with another document, you can with simple drag and drop. Here’s how with Preview:

Merge PDFs With Edits
© Photo by Apple Support
  1. Open the PDF files you want and launch them both with Preview. You can launch however many PDFs you want even if it’s more than two.
  2. On all of your open PDF files, go to View and select Thumbnails. You should see the page thumbnails of each of your PDF files on every preview.
  3. Press the Command key on your keyboard and hold it. Then, using your mouse or trackpad, select the pages you want to merge to your other document. Do this one PDF preview at a time. Once you’ve selected all the pages you need in one Preview, release the command key.
  4. You should have all your thumbnail selections highlighted. Just drag them with your cursor to the sidebar of the PDF file you want them to merge with.

 

Using this method, you can also alter your PDF files in different ways. For example, you can rotate, reorder, or even delete pages you don’t need. These are only minor editing tools that Preview allows for but it should get the job done for simple edits.

 

How to Combine PDF Files on Mac Using Finder

If you’re on the later versions of macOS, you’ll find that you can also easily combine PDFs using Finder. This method is possible with macOS Mojave and Catalina which allow you to directly create PDFs within Finder. That’s because Apple’s new Finder allows for contextual actions just by clicking on a file. This includes the ability to create PDFs and combine them. Here’s how to do so:

How To Combine PDF Files On Mac Using Finder
© Photo by Ben Stockton on Switching To Mac
  1. Launch Finder and then select (highlight) all the PDFs that you want to merge.
  2. Afterward, you should find a contextual menu on the right-hand side of the Finder. You’ll find a preview of all the files you selected and the option to Create PDF on the bottom. Click on it to create a new PDF from your files. If you can’t find the button, hit the More ellipses icon to bring up the option.
  3. Open the new PDF file you created with the Preview app. Using this app, you can rearrange pages through drag-and-drop. Just drag the page you want to reorder on the left-hand side that shows page thumbnails. MacOS also allows you to annotate your PDFs or rotate pages if you need to.
  4. After editing to your heart’s content, rename your file by selecting File and then Rename. You can now easily find your new file by name and you’ve successfully merged your PDFs.

 

How to Combine PDF Files Online

Yes, we generally don’t recommend using online services to combine PDF files. However, it’s not always possible to avoid it if you don’t have space for apps on your desktop. Moreover, it’s a convenient way to do so if you’re using something like a Chromebook. With all of that said, here’s how to combine PDF files using an online service.

 

How to Combine PDF Files Using PDFBear

In this example, we’re using the online tool, PDFBear. Just follow the given steps:

Merge PDF with PDFBear
Screenshot from PDFBear

 

  1. Open your browser and navigate to PDFBear’s website.
  2. You can either drag and drop your files within the purple box or select Drop File. If you select Drop File, it’ll open a window to browse your local storage. Find the folder containing your PDF files and highlight each of them. Afterward, click the Choose button on the bottom-right corner. Your PDF files should upload to the PDFBear website.
  3. From here, you can edit the order of pages you wish the PDF to appear in. Once you’re done, you can press Combine or Merge PDF.
  4. After it’s done, you can download the PDF file directly to your device. You can also opt to upload it to your Google Drive if you know how to do Google Drive uploads and downloads.

PDFBear is the most complete online PDF editor out there. It can convert to and from PDF to a multitude of file types. Not only that, but you can customize the PDF to your heart’s content. You are also ensured complete document security, with the addition of watermarks and password-encryption.

 

Other Online PDF Merging Solutions

Online PDF Merging Solutions
© Photo by sharafmaksumov on Adobe Stock

Apart from PDFBear, there are several other best online PDF readers and editors you can use. Check them out below:

 

PDF Joiner

Learning how to combine PDF files is great, but sometimes you need to change the file format. Not everyone has a PDF reader, especially on their mobile devices where many people view digital content. If you want to combine PDFs and convert your final file to text or JPG, check out PDF Joiner.

Not only can you convert merged PDFs to different file formats, but you can also do the reverse. Convert text or JPG files into PDF or even merge files of varying file formats into one. However, keep in mind that you’re only allowed to combine 20 files at a time.

Go to site

 

PDF Merge

This one’s not as full-featured as the others on this list, but it can get the job done. With PDF Merge, you can drag and drop multiple PDFs and merge them into one. It’s simple and straightforward without bells or whistles. However, you’re limited to only merging files of up to 5 MB in total. You have to pay for larger file sizes, which isn’t great. Nonetheless, it’s good enough if you want a quick solution.

Go to site

 

FoxyUtils Merge PDF

Using PDFs and digital files are already eco-friendly. However, FoxyUtils Merge PDF takes that and elevates it to an even more eco-friendly endeavor. With FoxyUtils, you can plant trees while merging PDFs. However, using it only contributes to a small part of tree-planting efforts worldwide. Nonetheless, it’s great to know that you’re making a difference by doing something so mundane. Just keep in mind that it has a 50 MB size limit for merging PDFs.

Go to site

 

Final Word

Learning how to combine PDF files doesn’t have to be complicated. There are many resources out there that you can use to merge PDFs. You don’t have to deal with the headache of opening multiple files all the time when working on a project. File organization has never been this easy thanks to free and online tools. What’s more, it’s even easier if you’re on a Mac because it already has a native solution for this. However, regardless of the operating system, you can have peace of mind knowing you have numerous options for combining and editing PDFs.

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