Ways to Merge PDF Files on your Mac

There are times when you have to deal with incomplete files. You might be working with multiple documents or one with many parts scattered in different files. Perhaps you want to bring them together and combine the pages to create a single PDF file. It is common when you want to merge several reports to share with clients. It might come in handy when you want all the information you have gathered from several sources in one document for easier referencing. Whichever your reason for wanting to merge PDF documents, it is easier to do it on the macOS. Let us explore ways to do it. 


For most Mac users, Preview is the default PDF reader. That’s if you have not installed an alternative PDF reader on your Mac. Well, Preview is the in-built tool gem that does more than just being a PDF reader. You can use it to sign documents, edit images, and merge PDF files. 

With the Preview App, you can easily combine several PDF documents and pages from other PDF documents. Let us jump into how that works:

How to merge a PDF file with another PDF file

When you are looking to merge several entire PDF files together, this is how to go about it

  1. Open the first PDF file that you wish to merge in the Preview App.
  2. Click on View and select the Thumbnails. Ensure that you see the thumbnail bar that appears on the left of the window. (If you can not see it, you can click on the Sidebar button then select the Thumbnails option)
  3. Move to the menu bar and choose the Edit option at the top.
  4. Go to the Insert option and click the Page From File option. 

At this point, the Preview App will prompt you to select a PDF file to merge with the current one. You can navigate to the folder that contains the second PDF file.

  1. After choosing a PDF file, click the Open button.

Your PDFs should now be successfully merged.

  1. Click on File then Export as PDF to save your new document.

If you really need to be sure that the pages from the new PDF have combined with the original copy, you can scroll down to countercheck the page count. 

If you’d prefer not to use the Preview App, there are other tools you can use like Prizmo and PDFpen. Here’s a great guide https://setapp.com/how-to/merge-pdf-on-mac that explores more about using these third-party tools to merge the files. These options are good for advanced level editing that can’t be handled by Preview on Mac

How to merge pages of a PDF file into another PDF file

In some instances, you may be looking to add only specific pages from one PDF to the current one. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open both PDF documents with Preview. Your PDF Thumbnails should be enabled in both documents
  2. Select the specific pages that you want to add to the PDF. Hold the Command key if you want to select multiple pages.
  3. Drag the selected pages to the thumbnails section of your primary PDF. 
  4. Drop them where you want the pages to appear in the original document.
  5. Save your new PDF by clicking Files then Export as PDF. 

 You can repeat this simple process to add more pages from other PDF files.

How to Merge PDF files on a website

There are online tools like Smallpdf that one can use to easily merge pdf files. One of the advantages of Smallpdf is that it works with any computer. It is not just reserved for Mac users. Here is how to use it:

  1. Search online and open the Smallpdf tool on your computer. 
  2. Once you are on the site, you can select then drag in your PDF files. Alternatively, you could click on the Choose File button. This way, you are able to browse and select a file from your local storage.
  3. Once you are done selecting the files, click on Choose.

The PDF files are now successfully uploaded to the website.

There are two modes available on Smallpdf. The standard File mode and the Page mode. In the standard mode, there are preview icons for each of the PDFs. It is therefore possible to reorder the PDF to your liking.

  1. When satisfied with the page order click on Merge PDF to merge them. Easy peasy!

In the Page mode, you can see all the pages from every PDF being listed. You have the option to drag then around and reorder them. You can also click Delete to remove any pages that you want to leave out of the final document. 

  1. When you are satisfied with the order of the pages, click on Merge PDF
  2. Select Download on the next page. The merged PDF will be saved on your computer. You can find it in the Downloads folder. 

How to Merge PDFs using PDFpen

Combining two PDF files

If you want to merge two entire PDF files on PDFpen, here’s how to do it:

  1. Open the document that you want to merge
  2. Ensure that the Thumbnails Sidebar is set on visible for both of the PDF documents that you want to merge. (If the sidebar is hidden, just click on View then Show Sidebar).
  3. Choose a thumbnail from the Sidebar of any of the PDFs. Then, click on Edit then Select All. You will select all the pages from that PDF.
  4. Drag the thumbnails from that sidebar to the sidebar of the other PDF. 
  5. Drop the pages wherever you wish for them to appear. 

Adding Pages from One PDF to another

There will be times when you are not keen on merging entire PDF files. You may want to extract only a few pages from one PDF and add them to another. This is how to do it:

  1. Open the PDF files that you want to use. 
  2. Ensure that the Thumbnails Sidebar is visible on both of the PDF documents.
  3. Drag the thumbnail of the page that you want to move and drop it on your preferred location in the PDF that you are moving the content to. 

Also, you can drop the page from the document you are extracting from to the destination’s Thumbnail Sidebar. When you hover between the two thumbnails, a line appears and you can drop the page on the line. 

How to add multiple pages simultaneously

Adding a page at a time can be a tedious process especially if you have multiple pages to go through. Luckily, there is an easier way to do that. Here’s how:

If you want to add several sequential pages.

  • Select a thumbnail. 
  • Then press on Shift+click and hold it to the end of the group of pages you want to add.
  • Drag the pages from the sidebar of that PDF to your destination PDF. 

If you want to add multiple non-sequential pages.

  • Command+click on the thumbnails that you want to add.
  • Once you have selected the pages, 
  • Drag them to the sidebar of your destination PDF.

If you want to add all the pages,

  • Select one thumbnail and select Edit then Select All. 
  • After all the pages are selected, drag them from that sidebar to the sidebar of your destination PDF. 

Merging several PDFs using Apple Script

To combine several PDFs that stored within the same folder,

  1. Select Combine PDFs on the AppleScript menu.
  2. Select the files you wish to combine.
  3. Click Choose
  4. You will have a new PDF from the Files you selected.
  5. Save.

Merging PDFs using PDFelement

This is another option that works even for macOS 11. You can use the PDFelement tool. Here are the steps: 

  1. Start the PDFelement program. (Ensure that you install the latest version of the program).
  2. Click on Tool. It is at the left toolbar.
  3. Then, Click on Batch Process.
  4. On the new window that appears, click Combine PDF
  5. Click Add.
  6. Select the PDF files that you wish to add. 

After all the files are successfully uploaded on that window,

  1. Click Apply to start merging.

The combined PDF document will open in PDFelement. If there are any edits that you want to make, you can make them here. You can add, delete or replace text in the file by clicking the Text button. The button is in the left toolbar. You can also rearrange the pages by clicking the Organize Pages button that is at the right-side corner. Just drag to move the pages to your liking. 

After you are satisfied with the merged PDF file,

  1. Click on File then Save As and save your document. 

There you go! That is how to merge with PDFelement.

Final Remarks

Knowing how to merge several related PDF files into a single document is a great productivity hack. We hope the steps that we have provided make it clear and easier for you! Again, use Preview for basic editing but you can go for a third-party tool to help do the magic. 

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