Thursday 8 November 2012

Use PDFSam To Easily Split, Merge, & Reorder PDF Pages

PDFSam, short for “PDF Split and Merge,” is a great utility for quick PDF editing. You can combine multiple PDF documents into a single PDF document, split a PDF into multiple files, extract pages from a PDF, reorder the pages in a file, or create a new PDF file that contains pages from multiple files.

These operations aren’t normally possible with such easy, free tools. I’ve personally used PDFSam to combine multiple documents scanned to PDF into a single file, reorder pages in a scanned PDF, and extract a single important page from a large, unwieldy PDF document. If you want to do some basic PDF splitting, merging, and reordering, PDFSam is the application for you.

Merging PDFs

Admittedly, PDFSam’s interface is a bit clunky and dated, but it works fine once you get the hang of it.

Let’s say you want to combine multiple PDFs into one file, attaching each PDF after the other as if you’re virtually stapling them together. You’d click the Merge/Extract plugin in the sidebar. Once in the Merge/Extract pane, click the Add button and add the PDFs you want to merge. You can reorder them in the list so they’re in the order you want them in.

Use the Browse button to specify the destination of a new PDF file and click Run. PDFSam will create a new PDF file that contains all the pages from the PDF file you specified.

Merging or Extracting Individual Pages

Let’s say you wanted to merge together specific pages from the PDFs, instead. You could scroll to the right in the Merge/Extract plugin and use the Page Selection box, where you want enter a range of pages or a single page. For example, in the screenshot below, we’re taking pages 1 and 2 from the first PDF, page 5 from the second PDF, and pages 8 through 10 from the third PDF to create a new, six-page PDF document.

If you only have a single PDF in this list and select specific pages here, you can create a new PDF that contains only the specified pages from the original. However, the Visual document composer plugin is an easier, visual way to extract individual pages (see below for more information on that plugin).

Splitting PDFs

The Split plugin allows you to split PDFs into smaller files. After you add a PDF using the Add button, there are a number of options you can choose. For example, Burst splits the PDF into single-page PDF files. If you want to split a PDF document into two at a specific point, you can use the Split after these pages option and enter the page number where you want the split to occur.

Reordering a PDF

If you’d like to rearrange a PDF’s pages – perhaps they were scanned in the wrong order – you can easily do that with the Visual reorder plugin.

Open a PDF on the Visual reorder pane and you’ll see preview thumbnails of its pages. You can drag and drop these files to rearrange them and use the Rotate and Delete buttons to rotate or delete individual pages. Like with the other plugins, use the Run button to create a new PDF file after making your changes.

Visual Document Composer

The Visual document composer plugin works similarly to the Visual reorder plugin, but it allows you to open multiple PDF files. Previews of each PDF files’ pages will appear in the pane at the top of the window, and you can drag and drop them to the middle pane to create a new PDF file that incorporates pages from multiple PDF files.


The Rotate plugin is self-explanatory. It allows you to easily rotate pages in a PDF file, selecting a precise rotation and choosing the pages that will be rotated. You can even rotate multiple PDF files at once.

This plugin may seem underwhelming, but you’ll appreciate it if you have PDF files that need to be rotated.

Alternate Mix

The Alternate Mix plugin is another plugin that will only come in handy in specific situations. If you have one PDF file containing all the even pages of a document and one PDF file containing all the odd pages of a document, the Alternate Mix pages will combine the two PDFs, alternating pages and putting them in the correct order.

PDFSam is a life saver if you need to quickly and easily perform these kinds of PDF operations.

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