How to Combine PDF Files into One Document (Mac & Windows)

At some point, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to know how to combine files into one PDF.  This may be for a job, a homemade e-book, or for your personal office bookkeeping. To help you out, we’ve done the research and put together a comprehensive guide on how to merge multiple PDF files, no matter what device or platform you’re using.

We’ve even split these methods into two categories: offline and online! So let’s look at what you can do to put PDFs together, shall we?

How to Combine PDF Files Offline

It’s worth noting that many of the methods mentioned below will only work once you’ve already downloaded and installed the necessary apps. It’s a good idea to download and install your chosen apps so you can combine PDFs wherever you are — even when you have no internet access.

How to Merge PDFs on Mac

It may not come as a shock that macOS has simple user-friendly tools built-in to help you create and combine PDFs on your computer. You can use either the Preview app or macOS Finder. Let’s start with the latter option.

How To Combine PDF Files in macOS Finder

If you have not done so already, it may be easier to have all the files that you want to combine into a PDF in one folder.  Once the folder is ready, we can access the Finder tool.

How to combine in finder
  1. Open your Finder on your dock, launchpad, or by using Spotlight Search.
  2. Navigate to the folder which has the files you want to combine. Switch to the Gallery view in the Finder toolbar by clicking on the icon that looks like a rectangle with five dots underneath it. Alternatively, you can click  “Gallery View” in the View menu at the top of your screen.
  3. Now that you are in the Gallery view, you will notice that all your files appear as picture icons. You can quickly shift through the icons to double-check which ones you need for your PDF. As stated earlier, it will be much easier for you if all the PDF files are already in one folder.
  4. Select each individual file to combine them into one. Hold down the command key to select multiple files (you can let go once you’ve selected all of them). Try to click each file in the order that you want them to appear in the final PDF.
  5. Upon selection of the second file, you will notice a “Create PDF”  icon in the inspector panel. When you select more than one file, a Create PDF button appears in the inspector panel on the right. Click on it and the Finder will create a new PDF on your desktop or selected folder, containing all the PDFs that you selected.

Easily rearrange the order of your PDF pages by using the Preview tool. The Preview icon looks like this:

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How to reorder
  1. To open and adjust your new PDF, simply double-click on the PDF file to automatically open it in Preview. In addition, you can also click the Preview icon and find your PDF.
  2. Once you open the PDF in Preview, you need to see the thumbnails to change the page positions. Go to the View menu and click “Thumbnails” to switch them on if they are not already visible.
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  3. On the sidebar with the thumbnails, click and drag the thumbnails up or down to reorder the PDFs. Release the mouse once your file is in its desired position. You can do this as many times as you need.

How to Edit Pages In The PDF

At this point, you may decide that you have an extra page or two which you no longer want or need. Simply click on a thumbnail in the sidebar and hit “Delete” on your keyboard. Did you hit delete by mistake? No worries! Simply go to the Preview menu, hit “Edit”, and click  “Undo” from the dropdown menu to restore the page and thumbnail.

How To Combine PDFs in Preview

Preview can also be used as the sole source to combine PDF files.

How to combine in preview
  1. First, open your initial PDF page in Preview.
  2. Add new files by:
    • Click “Edit” in the Preview menu
    • Click “Insert” from the dropdown menu
    • Click “Page From File…”
    • Click “Page From File…”
    • Select the file you want to add to this PDF.
    • Repeat this step for each new page you want to add.

3. When you have finished adding and moving around your pages, save your new PDF. Go to the “File” menu and click “Export as PDF”.

Third-Party Apps Work on Mac, Too

If you find that Finder and Preview don’t perform the function well enough or if you simply need more features, it’s worth mentioning that third-party apps work on macOS, too. For example, you can use PDFsam in the exact same way on macOS as you can on Windows (we’ve got a guide on PDFsam in more detail below). Of course, there are also commercial apps like Adobe Acrobat, although those cost money.

How to Combine PDFs on Windows

If you need to put together PDFs on Windows, you might actually end up wishing you had a Mac (at least for this purpose)! macOS has built-in features and tools that allow you to combine your files without any fuss or additional downloads. On Windows 10, you can open PDF files in the Microsoft browser, Edge, but you can only view them.

It’s unknown whether Windows 11 will come with any tools to let you combine your files. How do you join PDF files if this is the case?

Well, if you want to manage or merge your files while offline on a Windows machine, you’ll need a third-party app. You’ll usually have to pay for these apps, but some have limited versions available for free.

Let’s talk about one of the best options below.

PDFsam

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PDFsam is a free, open-source desktop app available on Windows, macOS, and Linux. It comes in a free version called PDFsam basic and an enhanced version. The enhanced version comes with a free trial but will cost you $59 a year if you want to keep it.

The good news is, the basic version has the tools you need to merge, split, rotate, mix, and extract pages from PDFs. So if that’s all you need to do, you don’t need the enhanced version at all.

One thing we can say about PDFsam is that it’s not the nicest to look at — the user interface isn’t the nicest and it won’t be very user-friendly. However, once you get the hang of it, it becomes a breeze to work with.

Pdfsam merging pdf files

To combine your files, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Download and install PDFsam Basic. Uncheck the box for the free trial of the enhanced version if you do not want it.
  2. Click on Merge. Upload or drag and drop your files into the window.
  3. Name your file and select the save location.
  4. Click on Run. Once the process is done, you will see “Complete” on the bar to the right of the Run button. There is a slight issue with this — as you can see in the GIF above if you’ve previously completed a PDF mere, the bar will display as “Complete” regardless so it can be hard to tell when it’s actually done.

Your merged file is ready to view! You can click on Open to view it.

BONUS: PDF Merger & Splitter

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Here’s a bonus freeware app you can download on the Microsoft Store app, PDF Merger & Splitter.

You can access your Microsoft Store from your start menu. We would provide a link, but there’s nothing to link to. PDF Merger & Splitter was created by AnywaySoft, Inc., a company that seemingly provides freeware apps to help you perform various tasks. Beyond that, not much is known about them — in fact, the about section on their website is empty.

PDF Merger & Splitter is what’s known as a UWP (Universal Windows Platform) app. It uses PDFsharp’s open-source code library. It’s probably best not to compare this app to some of the other paid apps on this list since it doesn’t have as many features and options in comparison.

With this free app, you’ll be somewhat limited in what you can do, and you’ll probably find the user interface not very user-friendly.

However, it has one redeeming feature — it’ll allow you to combine your PDF files and have them become one page size for uniformity. You can force the pages to adopt the largest page’s size, or you can set it to adapt to the size used by most of the pages in the PDFs you’re joining. Here’s how to use this app to merge PDFs:

  1. Download and install PDF Merger & Splitter from the Microsoft Store.
  2. Open PDF Merger & Splitter.
  3. Click Merge PDF, then Add Files.
  4. Select the files you want to merge, then click on the Merge button.
  5. Name your file and choose the output directory, and that’s it!

Combine PDF Files on Mobile

Sometimes you need to be able to combine PDFs on the fly. If you’re wondering how to merge PDF files on mobile, this guide should help you.

On Android

There are quite a few PDF tools available on mobile. Some of them are free (with ads you can remove by making a one-time purchase), while others are premium apps you must pay for upfront or have an active subscription to. Let’s look at one example below.

PDF Utils

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PDF Utils is available entirely for free. This PDF tool has a rating of 4.6 stars out of five at over one million downloads on the Google Play Store. The developer is also quite responsive in the reviews, addressing concerns that some have and fixing issues in regular patches. The banner ads are small and out of the way, so they shouldn’t be too bothersome. However, you get a full-screen video ad while your file is processing.

This app is handy, providing tons more features to help you work with PDF files on your Android device. If you want to know how to combine two PDFs with PDF Utils, we’ll show you in the guide below.

  • Open PDF Utils on your device. Tap on Merge PDF/Images.
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  • Locate the PDFs or images you want to combine. Tap and hold to select multiple files. Once you have selected the right ones, tap on Select.
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  • In the next screen, reorder or remove files as necessary. You can also add more files if you need to. Once you are satisfied, tap on the blue circle with a checkmark on the bottom right.
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  • After tapping the check button, you’ll be asked to name your new file. After you name your file and tap Save, you will see a full-screen advertisement while the merged PDF is processing.

After processing, you’ll see a preview of your combined file!

On iOS

Just like macOS, iOS also comes with native tools for merging PDFs. Combining your files on iOS is just as simple and convenient, too. Here’s how:

  1. On your iPhone or other iOS device, open your Files app. Locate the PDFs you want to combine.
  2. Tap on Select (found at the top) and mark the files to combine.
  3. Look for the three-dots menu on your screen. It will be in the bottom right. Tap it.
  4. Tap on Create PDF.

And there you go, simple and easy!

How to Combine PDF Files Online (No download necessary)

Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where you need to combine some PDFs even when you don’t have access to your usual devices.

In a case like this, the best thing for you to do is find some online tools that can help you merge PDFs without needing to download anything.

The online tools you’ll see below are intuitive and incredibly easy to use. You can use them on any device as long as you have a browser and access to the internet. You should know that most of these online tools function in the exact same way — you can upload your files, then click on the Combine button. Sometimes you’ll have extra steps, such as reordering your files or naming your new merged file, but generally, the process is the same. For this reason, we won’t bother with a step-by-step guide.

  • SmallPDF offers a suite of online PDF tools that allow you to convert, combine, split, edit, sign, and password-protect or unlock files. They have a free forever plan that will enable you to access 21 of their tools on the website or through the mobile app. The catch is you can only process two documents a day. If you don’t need to work with PDF files often, the free forever plan is more than enough. Otherwise, you can look into a Pro plan which starts at $9 per month paid yearly or $12 per month paid monthly.
  • CombinePDF is a 100% free tool that allows you to combine up to 20 PDFs and images uploaded from your computer (or device). If you want to change the ordering of the files before combining, you can simply click and drag the file blocks into your preferred order. CombinePDF also has other tools available, such as a PDF rotator, compressor, unlocker, cropper, and more.
  • SodaPDF is like SmallPDF; it provides a free forever plan that allows you to work with PDFs but with daily usage and file size limitations. SodaPDF also has many other tools available to help you get your PDF files exactly how you want them. However, what makes SodaPDF different is that you can purchase unlimited access for a week if you only need the tools for a short time. The Unlimited Access plan also has a desktop app and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Like Combine PDF, SodaPDF allows you to reorder your files before merging them.
  • I Love PDF offers simple tools to help you join, split, convert, or compress your PDFs. They also have every other tool you might need 100% free (although there may be some usage or file size restrictions). Upgrading to premium will give you features like unlimited access, no ads, the ability to use I Love PDF through the mobile or desktop app, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I combine PDF files for free?

There are many ways to combine your PDF files for free. If you want to do it online, there are many websites you can use such as CombinePDF, SodaPDF, I Love PDF, and SmallPDF. Of course, you can also use Adobe’s free online tool, though you will need to have an Adobe account and have to be signed in to use it. Adobe’s free tool also sometimes returns errors, though this happens pretty rarely. It may be a good idea to try a bunch of the tools available to find the one you prefer. It’s worth mentioning that you can use online tools regardless of your platform or device. On macOS, you can combine files for free using Finder and Preview (guide above). You can also use third-party apps like PDFsam, which works on macOS and Windows.

Can I combine PDF files into one?

Yes! Our comprehensive guide on how to combine PDF files into one, as seen above, shows you everything you need to know to merge your files.

How do I combine PDF files in Windows?

Unfortunately, Windows does not come with any built-in tools for combining PDFs. You’ll need to use an online tool like the ones mentioned above, or a third-party app like PDFsam or PDF Merger & Splitter. If the free tools don’t have the features you need, consider going for a paid app like Adobe Acrobat.

How do I put multiple documents into one file?

Putting together multiple documents into a single file is simple and easy, especially if you have an Apple computer or device. However, there are also many other methods available on other platforms. If you need to know how to combine multiple PDFs into one, our comprehensive guide above can help you every step of the way.

Why won’t my Adobe combine files?

There are a number of reasons why combining PDF files might not work in the Adobe tools. Here are some of them:

  • If you are using Adobe Acrobat, know that it cannot combine PDF files if the total size is more than 2 gigabytes. If this is the case, you may need to find another program that can handle your task.
  • Check to make sure you are using the latest version of Adobe Acrobat.
  • You may not have an active (paying) subscription to Adobe’s PDF Pack.
  • You might not be logged in to Adobe Creative Cloud.
  • You have not entered a file name for the new combined PDF to save as.

It’s worth noting that sometimes, it’s simply not possible to combine two files. An example would be if you are trying to combine PDFs and one of them is digitally signed or password protected. In this case, the next best thing for you to do would be to create a PDF Portfolio instead.

Conclusion

Knowing how to combine PDF files can be handy, especially if you frequently work with scanned or digital documents. PDF files also have their own uses, such as putting together an e-book, a manual, a portfolio, and more. There are many ways to merge PDFs online and offline on various platforms and devices. However, the Apple ecosystem is the clear winner since both macOS and iOS come with built-in features that allow you to combine your files whenever you need to.

We hope this guide has been helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to share them in the comments below!

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