groovyTip: How to Combine PDFs in macOS using Preview

Want a quick, easy, and free way to merge PDFs on a Mac? Use Preview!

Preview is macOS’s built-in image viewer and PDF viewer. The name is a bit misleading, though, since Preview is capable of doing some light conversion and editing tasks, such as exporting as a PDF or converting a PDF to JPG. You can even use your Mac to combine single PDFs into a multi-page PDF by merging PDF files.

Merge PDFs on a Mac using a Preview

There are two easy ways to merge PDFs in Preview to create a multi-page PDF. I’ll show you both.

Method 1: Drag and Drop Thumbnails to Combine PDFs

To add a page to a PDF, open up the first PDF in Preview, then click View and then Thumbnails to reveal the sidebar.

Open up another PDF in a different Preview window.  If not already done, view the sidebar by clicking View and then Thumbnails. Now, drag a thumbnail of a page from one PDF into the sidebar of the other PDF. You can also hold command to select multiple thumbnails to drag to the other PDF.

Done! You now have a combined PDF. Save your new PDF to make the changes stick. Click the filename at the top of the window to choose a new name and save location.

Method 2: Insert Page from File

Open up a PDF in Preview. Click Edit then Insert and then Page from Fileedit insert page

Choose the file you want to insert. You can re-arrange them in the sidebar.

And that’s all! Click the filename to save your PDF with a new name and location.


Combining PDFs in Preview is pretty handy if you don’t have another PDF editor and you want a free solution. Use Method 2 for combining two PDF files in their entirety. If you want just one page from a PDF or a subset of pages from a PDF, use Method 1.

In fact, even if you do have another PDF program that can handle combining PDFs, Preview is a quick and free way to get the job done for very simple tasks. Anything beyond 2 or 3 pages starts to get a little clunky in Preview.

What do you use for quick PDF editing tasks? Share your tips in the comments!



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