How To Split and Merge PDF Documents In Preview

You can copy pages in a PDF document in Preview and paste them to get a new document with only the pages you want. You can split a PDF into two or more smaller documents. You can also merge documents by dragging pages from one document into another.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: How To Split and Merge PDF Documents In Preview.

In the Preview app in Mac OS Mojave it's easy to be able to split PDFs into a separate document and also to merge PDFs into one document. So, let's take a look at a sample PDF that has four pages in it. If you don't see the left sidebar here, click here and instead of having Hide Sidebar choose Thumbnails. Now you can see there's four pages here and you can click on anyone to view the page. So let's say we want to split this into two separate PDFs. One with the first two pages and one with the second two pages. There are a lot of different ways to do this.

For instance, we can simply delete the pages out of this. So I can grab the third page and hold the Command key and grab the fourth page. Hit the Delete key and now I have a document with the first two pages. So that would work in some cases. Go into Command Z to Undo that. I could also do the same first thing with the first two pages, Command click each one of those, and hit Delete and now the third and fourth pages are the two pages there. So I can basically duplicate the file and do that to each one to get what I want.

A neater way would be to use Copy and Paste. So I'm going to do Command, select the first two pages and do Command C for Copy or just Edit Copy. Then file New From Clipboard or Command N. This creates a new document that has the first two pages in there. So I'm going to Save that. Command S. I'm just going to save it to the desktop as Demo 1 and close it. Notice I have them opening up in tabs there which is a great feature of Preview to be able to use multiple tabs. I'm going to now go and do the same thing with three and four. Command, click, and now I just have three and four selected. Go into Copy, New From Clipboard, and you see I get the last two pages there. Command S to save and save that as Demo 2. So now I've split it up into two separate documents without altering the original document. Which is really nice.

You can also do this with Drag and Drop. So I can Command and select these first two pages here. Drag them and it creates a document there that has those two. I can Command, select those and Drag them and now I have two documents here. Pages 1 and 2. Pages 3 and 4. So really easy ways to create PDFs by splitting apart the pages of an existing PDF.

So let's say we want to merge two documents together. So let's merge these two that we have created. I'm going to do that by opening the first one and then a simple way to do it is to just drag and drop the second one here into the left Thumbnails bar here. Just drag it after it. You can see I can actually insert it inbetween existing pages. Now I've got what I want but I'm just saving it as a new version of the first document. Which may not be what I want because I may want to preserve the first document and the second document and create a completely new one. So let me Undo there and I've got the first document just like I had before.

Let me select both of these pages here. I'm going to Copy and then create a New From Clipboard. Now here's a bug in Preview. When you do that you get two versions, two documents, untitled 1 and untitled 2 here on the left sidebar and that only happens when you select all the pages of the PDF and do Copy and New From Clipboard. So to correct this bug I'm going to close the second document here. This untitled 2. I'm going to click on the first page of it, go to File, and Close Selected PDF Document. Not Close Window but this one. That will just get rid of that unnecessary second copy.

Now I have an untitled document with two pages. I can drag and drop this in here and now I have a document with all four pages. I can Save and I'll save this one as Demo copy and it puts it there. So now I have a merged document with those. You could also go and duplicate the first document. So I can select that and do File, this is in the Finder. File, Duplicate. Now I've got this copy here and I can open that up and drag this second one into it.

I can also open up the second document, if I want, select the pages there that I want and drag those from one document to another. So this gives you more flexibility because now I can actually go and select a few pages from one, a few pages from the other, and create a new document. Save that. So for instance I could open this document here, let me select page 2. I'll do Copy and New From Clipboard. There's page 2. I'll open up the second document and I'll select page 4. Actually I'll drag from here into the Thumbnails bar here and I've created a document that's page 2 and page 4 now from that. So you can use Drag and Drop from the Thumbnails sidebar to basically mix and match pages in a PDF to create a new document.

Comments: 10 Responses to “How To Split and Merge PDF Documents In Preview”

    Marj Green
    7 days ago

    Acrobat has an option to Reduce File Size which reduces the size of the pdf file without altering the measurements of each page. Is there a way to do this in Preview?

    7 days ago

    Marj: Yes. You can go to File, Export in Preview, then at the bottom before you save choose Reduce File Size under Quartz Filter. See

    Kurt Steinbock
    7 days ago

    Gary, using your four-page brochure example, is it possible to paste pages 2 and 3 together horizontally so that it looks like a two-page interior spread?

    7 days ago

    Kurt: You can view any PDF like that. Just go to View, Two Pages in the Preview menu.

    7 days ago

    Hey Gary,
    I’m surprised. you didn’t mention pressing command+shift+i to INSERT documents into the current one. I use that all the time. Once selected it gives you the option of where to place the new docs (before or after the current selected page).

    Mike Back
    7 days ago

    I’m looking for a way to merge 2, 8.5×11 PDFs into 1, 11×17 pdf?

    Thank You.

    7 days ago

    Mike: That’s a whole different issue. You are talking about grabbing elements of PDFs and placing them in different documents in a new layout. The best way is to go back to whatever app you used to develop the content in the first place.

    7 days ago

    Thank you for this video. I used to use an online service to do this on my old macbook since that preview version (at least I don’t think) allowed this. In any event, I didn’t use Preview to read pdf docs.

    Lali Raj
    6 days ago

    Thank you for sharing the video. Very useful

    4 days ago

    Selecting multiple images (not pdf) and export as pdf, ‘only’ single file is being saved as pdf. It is contrary to “select multiple images” and “export as pdf”. Why? I didn’t understand.

    If multiple images are required to be merged in one pdf file, first, all images should be converted into pdf file, next merge them. This requires heavy work if you have numerous images.

    Selecting multiple images and saving by file > print > Save as Pdf is working but its view is not same as other pdf view.

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