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 can do 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 multi-page PDFs by merging the 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, 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 the command key 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 straightforward 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!

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Gary Leon

    Wonderful article and extremely helpful. I used to merge multiple PDF files with Acethinker PDF Converter, it works pretty well. You just need to launch the app and Go to Other Tools tab to choose the Merge button. Then, click the files that you want to combine together or simply drop them into the selection box. Click Convert will start the combine process, once it’s done, you can save it to your computer. Share it here as an alternative solution to Preview.

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