Split, merge, rotate pages in PDF documents with Pdfarranger

Nov 5, 2020
Software, Windows software

Viewing a PDF document is easy, you likely use your web browser or a standalone tool for it. But splitting or merging pages from PDFs is slightly complicated, as many viewers don't support that functionality.

Split, merge, rotate pages in PDF documents with Pdfarranger

There are tons of premium/freemium programs and online services that offer various features, but you may not want to use these for one reason or another, e.g. for privacy reasons as you may not want to transfer your documents to an online service.

If you prefer an offline tool for basic tasks like splitting, merging pages in PDF documents, you may like the open source program, Pdfarranger.

The application's interface is simple as it just has a couple of toolbars at the top of the window. Click on the Open button in the top left corner to add one or more documents to the application. Pdfarranger supports drag-and-drop too. The program displays all pages from the PDFs that you have added, click on the + or - buttons in the top right corner of the window to adjust the zoom levels. The total number of pages is displayed in the top left corner.

pdfarranager zoom
In addition to PDF documents, the application also supports image formats such as JPG, PNG. Pdfarranger uses more resources when you use the Zoom in option, this is probably because that it loads all pages at once. So it is not advisable to use it as a PDF viewer, but it is a handy way to preview pages for selection.

Click on a page to highlight it, hold down the Ctrl or Shift keys to select multiple pages. Use the save button from the toolbar to save the selected pages into a single PDF. But you may want to use the Save As button to create a new PDF, you can also access this option from the right-click context menu (Export Selection) or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + E.

pdfarranger split pages

To merge two or more documents select the pages and use the Save As or Export option. That's useful if you want to merge a number of small books into one. Want to split a document or book? You may use the same setting to select some pages to create a new document, and repeat this as required.

The right-click menu allows you to delete pages, along with cut, copy and paste. There are four ways to paste pages: paste before, after, interleave odd or even. Pdfarranger also supports page cropping by setting the margin values. If you need an extra copy of the page, you will find the duplicate pages option useful. The Split pages option literally divides pages into two parts, and this also works with images. Pdfarranger supports undo and redo, so you can easily recover from a mistake. Rotate pages left and right from the menu or the toolbar buttons.

If you added PDFs and click the close button before saving them, Pdfarranger will warn you about unsaved content.

Pdfarranger menu

Click on the menu button to access the editing options, it also has an additional setting labeled "Edit Properties". This allows you to edit the metadata of the document including the Title, Creator, Producer and Creator Tool.

Pdfarranger edit properties

Pdfarranger is available for Windows and Linux, a portable version for the former can be found on the releases page. The program is written in Python GTK. Pdfarranger is a fork of pdfshuffler, and acts as a frontend for the pikepdf library.

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  1. Shmu said on November 9, 2020 at 10:28 am

    I use PDFArranger on all my linux distros, and recently discovered that it has a Windows version.

    An alternative for Windows users is PDFsam Basic. It nags you to buy the premium version, but it does the job quite nicely.

    1. Chris said on November 9, 2020 at 6:27 pm

      >An alternative for Windows users is PDFsam Basic.

      I see that it is also available for Linux and Mac, could also be interesting.

  2. hornylamb said on November 6, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    Floks.. any idea about free or open source pdf editable programs.. Thanks a lott..

  3. PD said on November 6, 2020 at 7:15 am

    Looks like a handy tool, thanks Ashwin!

    FWIW a friend suggested LibreOffice Draw can be used to edit PDFs. Yeah, surprised me as well.

    1. Chris said on November 6, 2020 at 11:08 am

      > LibreOffice Draw can be used to edit PDFs. Yeah, surprised me as well.

      I thought someone might mention that, I used it successfully once for a simple edit, but another time when I loaded a file with more pages it crashed, could have been a bug in that LO version.

      Currently, Linux users needing to work with PDF files can only do so using a combination of rather basic tools for individual operations, and I am not aware of any general purpose paid tools available at a reasonable price.

      A LibreOffice ‘PDF’ application added to the existing suite could provide a comprehensive tool for viewing, annotating and editing PDF files, and be the ‘go-to’ tool for Linux users, and also for Windows and Mac users looking for an open source solution.

  4. Oxa said on November 6, 2020 at 2:08 am

    I’m happy with PDFill FREE PDF Tools:

  5. nitro322 said on November 5, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    My man. I had a need to re-arrange a page in a PDF file literally yesterday. Spent a while messing with a few different options before finally coming across pdfarranger, which worked like a treat. Great timing. Wish you had covered this one day earlier. ;-)

    It’d definitely a nice tool, though. Simplistic interface, but for what it does, it does well. Glad to see it getting some wider exposure.

  6. Chris said on November 5, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    Linux version available, could be interesting…

    There are a small number of Linux PDF page manipulation tools available, I’m not sure how this compares with those, but if it works reliably and has a good interface it could be useful.

    But ideally LibreOffice would add a comprehensive cross-platform PDF tool to their existing suite that supports a useful subset of the actions available in Adobe Acrobat Standard: viewing, annotation, page manipulation and other basic operations.

    As LibreOffice already has quite comprehensive support for some PDF functions, I wonder how much effort would be required to produce such a standalone tool?

    1. PD said on November 6, 2020 at 7:20 am

      Firefox’s PDF.js code is just getting that upgrade to handle two forms within PDF standards as well.

      Seems like there is ample open code out there, *just* needs to be combined into one handy program. A lot easier said than done though as they are all seemingly writtern in different languages for one thing:

      Python with Gnome Toolkit (GTK) – pdfarrange
      JS – Firefox’s PDF.js
      C – LibreOffice

      1. PD said on November 6, 2020 at 7:21 am

        (two standards for writing forms within PDF documents)

        Really wish Ghacks had a facility to edit comments :)

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