Merge PDF Files

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 2, 2007
Updated • Nov 22, 2012

Winston was asking me if I know a way to merge one or more pdf files so that the contents of all the files would appear in one pdf file at the end. A quick research revealed a software pdftk - pdf toolkit -which can be used to merge and split pdf files. Many shareware programs exist that do the same thing but pdftk seems to be one of the few that can merge pdf files for free.

Pdftk runs from the command line which means you need to unpack the software into a directory that you can access easily. I put the file into c: for testing purposes along with two pdfs called 123.pdf and 456.pdf.

If you run pdftk without parameters you get a quick output that details the most important parameters. Lets take a look at the possible operations:

Merge pdf files:

pdftk 123.pdf 456.pdf output 123456.pdf

This tells pdftk to merge the two pdf files 123.pdf and 456.pdf into a new pdf called 123456.pdf. If you want to merge more than two pdf files at once you simply add them between pdftk and output. You could also use wildcards to merge many or all pdfs with a certain name.

pdftk *.pdf output 123456.pdf

Split pages from one or multiple pdfs:

pdftk A=123.pdf B=456.pdf cat A1-2 B4-5 output 1245.pdf

Repair a pdf:

pdftk 123.pdf output 123fixed.pdf

Merge encrypted pdfs:

pdftk A=123.pdf 456.pdf input_pw A=password cat output 123456.pdf

Pdftk offers several more possibilities which are worth a look if you want to do something that I did not describe on this website. A version for Linux and Windows is available. Here is a quick overview of the most important features:

  • Split and merge pdf documents
  • Update PDF Metadata
  • Fill PDF forms
  • Encrypt or decrypt documents
  • Rotate pdf pages
  • Unpack pdf attachments
  • Repair corrupted pdf

Instructions for all commands are available on the official program website.


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  1. Scott said on March 27, 2009 at 7:56 am

    I needed to assemble 900 PDF chapters into a single 6000 page PDF book, complete with bookmarks to each chapter. I wrote a shell script to do it:

  2. SigSingh said on October 21, 2008 at 5:30 am

    Nice… tool, I tried it on my PC, but I’m mostly a Mac user. Since then, I found an easier program:

    Join PDF files

    Since I don’t have to join a lot of PDF files, I just use the free version…

  3. Jim said on October 17, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    this is a great tool, works very well

  4. vrybas said on May 5, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    That’s what i was looking for. Thx!
    Already downloading for Linux.

  5. Koob said on October 3, 2007 at 7:58 am

    Very Nice, thx

  6. R.Prabhu said on October 2, 2007 at 11:51 am

    there is another open source software with a nice gui based on Java and work great too, here’s the link

  7. Roxi said on October 2, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Nice software…

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