How to combine multiple pdf files with OS X Mavericks 10.9

Merge 2 pdf files

With every release of OS X Apple seems to slightly change the way to merge two pdf documents. I’ve previously written on how to merge 2 pdf files in Mountain Lion (10.8) and how to merge two pdf files in Lion or earlier. Here’s how to do it in OS X 10.9 Mavericks. 

John has just posted a much easier method of doing this in a comment below. Thanks John, here it is:

1. Double click your first pdf document to open it with Preview, the built in mac OSX.

2. Go to the “Edit” drop down menu, find “Insert” and then “Page from File…”

3. Click on the file (or files) that you wish to import.

After this…

You can delete pages by selecting the page in the page thumbnails and pressing delete.

You can rearrange pages by selecting the page in the page thumbnails and dragging it up or down.

Whatever changes you make will be saved when you select ‘Save’

Make sure all files are pdf files…if you’re using .doc files, save them as pdf first.


64 responses to “How to combine multiple pdf files with OS X Mavericks 10.9”

  1. Beth

    This was very helpful, but now how do you keep the orientation of separate pdf’s from rotating when merging the file. For example the first file is in portrait and the second file is in landscape and then the third file is portrait again, but they all merged into portrait.

  2. Beth

    Ok I figured it out. After you have added the pdf’s together and have clicked File>Print, you MUST uncheck Auto Rotate for the orientation to stay as you want it! Hopefully this helps others

  3. tim

    Good god, thank you! I’d been dragging and dropping and it just wouldn’t save properly! i appreciate both the new tip AND especially the information i needed: drag the new PDF *onto* the destination PDF!

  4. naveen

    Thanks a lot. It helped.

  5. Well I almost had it! But my pages are not in order. You didn’t mention what order to merge your files if you want pages in a certain order. I tried to drag them, to fix it, not good.

  6. Zorba

    Thank you. Why Apple insists on screwing this up is beyond me, this is (now) totally non-intuitive! I kept wondering why I only had a 1 page PDF after trying to combine 8 pages the way I’d always done it. What good is this “non merge option”? If I didn’t want to merge the file, I wouldn’t have dragged the thumbnails across!

  7. Jamie

    AWESOME. Thanks

  8. Virginia

    I can’t thank you enough for the excellent help. Very grateful, indeed.

  9. Helen

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! This was so helpful!

  10. K

    I love you. Apple literally gives incorrect info, and I’ve been driving myself crazy for +20 min trying to figure this out. Bless you!

  11. mirkwood

    thank you! did the trick!

  12. Liliana

    Thank you, good explanation, I tried some others instructions and this one was very helpful, thank you very much!!!

  13. Brian

    Hi! I’ve merged three pdfs using the ‘preview’ facility. Separately they weigh in at 7.2MB. Merged, 55.2MB!!! Is there any easy way to get the merged file back to something approaching 7MB?

    1. Is that with both ways of merging? Try both ways and I’m keen to hear if there is a difference.


  14. Hi, I was looking for easy instructions to urgently merge some documents, it was so easy that left me some time to write this feedback, thank you!

  15. Cim

    If there are several documents to be merged, there is an easier way. Select all the documents you wish to merge. Open them simultaneously be pressing Command-O. Go to ‘Print…’ Under the PDF pull-down menu, select ‘Open PDF in Preview’.
    These instructions may seem longer, but the instructions in your tutorial must be redone for every page, but this need be done only once. Pages can be reordered prior to the Print… stage.

    1. Thanks Lucidita, that would work too.
      Your way merges them at the point when you ‘Print’ them to Preview.
      The way in this article merges them as they are opened the first time in Preview.
      Both will work.
      There are other ways to do it too. Probably the fastest for a lot of files is to select the files in finder and double click them to open them all in Preview. Then ‘Print’ and ‘Save to PDF’

  16. Kalyani

    Very helpful! Just upgraded to El Capitan and was trying the old way which does not work any more…

    1. Tim

      Using the Print command was the only way that worked for me. When trying to File–>Save, only one pdf of the several I had attempted to merge was saved.

      File–>Print–>PDF–>Save as PDF, then entering a new name and location is what worked for me. Many thanks to Cim and Wayne!

  17. ELfstar

    You Rock!! the apple website explanation never worked, and yours worked flawlessly!

  18. Chels

    Yes! Worked like a charm! Thank you!!!

  19. Mark

    tried to follow the basic instructions but when I select Edit – Insert the options are not available (can’t be selected). Why? thanks

    1. It could be that the pdf file is password protected.
      Can you delete pages?

  20. Jeff Stein

    Wayne, thank you! That saved me aggravation and time. Great technique.
    Jeff from Boston

  21. Nemo

    In Mac OS Sierra, it refused to save the combined pdfs so I cheated and clicked print then save as pdf. What a joke that the advertised feature at doesn’t work.

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