How to combine two PDF files into one with Preview on Mac

By , Jul 11, 2016

Adobe PDF Icon

PDF files are very useful for a number of reasons. They’re easy to share and easy to open and read on just about any platform.

Besides the point, let’s say you had two or more PDF files on your Mac that you wanted to combine into one single PDF file. How would you do that?

We’ll show you how to merge two or more PDF files into a single PDF file with the Preview app on your Mac in this tutorial.

Combining two PDF files into one

If you’ve ever wanted to combine multiple PDF files into one, or selectively add certain pages from a PDF file to another, so that you didn’t have a ton of related PDF files laying around all over the various folders on your Mac, then you can use Preview to easily combine any number of those PDF files together into one.

From an organization standpoint, it’s easy enough to say to just put the alike PDF files in the same folder, but in some instances, a number of PDF files may be so closely related that it would make more sense to view all of the information in the same file when you open it.

For example, if you have a number of shipping labels, receipts, or instructions to print, and you’d rather just have one print job instead of many, you can use this method to cut down on waiting time and print just the stuff you need.

Keep in mind that combining PDF files together on your Mac is fully reversible, so don’t panic if you accidentally combine the wrong ones or decide you want to separate them later down the line.

How to do it with Preview on Mac

So if you’re ready to give this a try, you can follow these steps:

1) Select two or more PDF files that you want to combine together.

Two PDF Files to Combine on Mac

2) Right click one of them and choose the Open With > Preview option.

Open PDFs With Preview on Mac

3) If you followed the steps above correctly, Preview will open and you’ll see both files’ thumbnails in the sidebar, as shown below:

PDF Files Open in Mac Preview App

4) Drag the second PDF thumbnail in the sidebar over the first PDF thumbnail in the sidebar, then release your mouse. You should see a green + icon on your cursor as you drag, indicating that you’re ready to release.

PDF File Combination Click and Drag

5) The Preview app now merges both PDF files together, putting the file that you just dragged at the end of the existing PDF file.

6) Now you can launch the original PDF file that you added a second to with Preview to verify that the merging was a success.

You can see that our PDF file has 5 pages now; it was originally a 1-page PDF file, but it has more now that we added another to it:

Lone Merged PDF file

Moving individual pages from file to file

If you don’t need to tack on an entire PDF file to another, you can even opt to selectively add only certain pages from a PDF file to another.

To do this, follow these simple steps instead:

1) Have two or more PDF files at the ready, and open them in Preview separately.

2) Adjust both Preview windows on your screen so you can see the sidebar in both windows.

Preview PDF Page Sharking

3) Select a page from the secondary PDF file’s sidebar, and drag the thumbnail over into the sidebar of the original PDF file.

4) When you see the green + icon on your cursor, you can let go of your mouse and only the selected page will be transferred to the original PDF file.

PDF File Finished Product

And that’s all there is to it. You’ve just successfully transferred a single page from one PDF file to another PDF file.

Wrapping up

For all of your PDF file organization needs, you can add, delete, or dissect parts and pieces of nearly any PDF file on your Mac. Of course, if a PDF file is locked, then you’ll have to know its password before you can start plucking it apart as we talk about in this tutorial.

Also read:

Do you use PDF files on your Mac often? Share in the comments!

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • Oscar

    That is such a funny coincidence! I literally had to do this last night for a new job. Unfortunately, Preview kept crashing on me when I dragged the additional PDF over. Must be a bug in 10.12 Beta 2. I will be reporting it.

  • Joaquim N.

    That’s really great! Thank you for that!

  • T_Will

    I work a lot with PDF sheet music, and I used to combine PDF’s (and convert images to PDF’s) using my Mac, but recently I discovered it’s even simpler to to do this using PDF Expert on the iPad now. Just a little plug for the iPad. 😀