PDFs are often commonly as official documents online, so knowing how to convert to and from the file format is an important professional skill. Another important thing to know is how to arrange multiple PDF files into a single document. We’ll teach you how to accomplish the task below — and it won’t cost you a penny.
Whether you’re running a computer with Windows or MacOS, we’ll show you the multiple methods for how to combine PDF files for free. There are a few online alternatives we’ll discuss too, as it doesn’t matter what platform you’re on, they’ll do all the hard work for you.
As one of the best PDF readers, editors and managers in the world, it’s a good idea to know how to use Adobe Acrobat for merging PDFs together. The only downside to Acrobat DC is that it’s premium software, meaning you need to pay for the privilege of using it.
Fortunately, there’s a free trial that lets you give it a try — that’s helpful whether you only need to merge a couple of PDF files this one time or plan to do all your merging in the near future. In addition, there are a bunch of alternatives out there that would suffice.
Step 1: Download and install the Adobe Acrobat DC free trial.
Step 2: Once installed, open the software and click the “Tools” tab in the top left-hand corner.
Step 3: Click the “Combine Files” button.
Step 4: Click the blue “Add Files” button and select the PDF documents you want to combine. It should be noted that this method works for all sorts of files, not just PDFs.
Step 5: With your PDFs selected, click the blue “Combine” button in the top right-hand corner.
Step 6: Your PDFs have now been merged into one. All you need do is save it to a new location, which you can do by clicking “File” followed by “Save As” and then selecting a name and location for your new file.
If you don’t like the idea of using Adobe’s software or your free trial has already run its course, then there are plenty of third-party options to consider that are designed especially for Windows. A cheap and effective option is Perfect PDF Combine, which may be very useful if you end up combining a lot of PDFs and want an app dedicated to helping out.
Alternatively, have a look at some of the online options further down this guide. All of them are free and equally effective at combining PDF files together.
Previous versions and the latest High Sierra build of MacOS let you use Preview to combine PDFs — so as long as you know what you’re doing. It’s a fairly organic process that you should be able to pick up quickly, especially if you follow our step-by-step method below.
If you want to speed up the process, learning these MacOS keyboard shortcuts really helps.
Step 1: Open “Finder” and select all the PDF files that you wish to combine.
Step 2: Open the files (yes, all of them). That will bring them up in a simple Preview mode. If you have a larger screen, it’s very handy to space out these Preview windows so you can see all of them at once. You’ll at least want to be able to see two Preview windows at the same time.
Step 3: For each window, head to the “View” menu and select “Thumbnails.” This will open a sidebar that showcases a thumbnail for each of the pages in that particular PDF.
Step 4: Using drag and drop, build the exact PDF you want by either dragging the page thumbnails into a specific order, or dragging the whole PDF into another to combine them.
There are visual cues on where pages will appear as you click, drag, and drop them (they may be familiar if you use PowerPoint). These include a divider line that shows if a page is being dragged above or below the current page. Use these signs to avoid making mistakes while forming your master document. You can also rearrange and rotate pages as needed.
Step 5: Once finished, make sure to rename the newly merged file so that you know what it is.
There are scores of free, web-based tools that will allow you to merge PDF files — and that’s good news for you. If you need to merge files quickly, this may be the best option, since these programs don’t really care where your PDF files come from or where they’re going — and they don’t require installing any additional programs. They do tend to have strict size limits, though.
Below are several of the most popular tools for merging PDF files, but keep in mind that they all basically do the same thing. If you run into formatting issues with one tool, then try another.