PDF manipulation apps

I use Preview to annotate PDFs although it has gotten worse with Snow Leopard—one click for annotations on the annotation icon in the toolbar opens an annotation toolbar AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WINDOW, thank you, Apple!

I prefer it to Skim because Preview annotations etc. are readable in every application.

But I need at least one function more—I want to merge PDFs.

Acrobat is both in price as in features way too much for me so I checked some alternatives. Further suggestions and detailed reports on usability are very welcome!

  • PDFLab
    No SL support, not tested.

  • PDF Merge says its icon, PDF Joiner says the description on the web page. That’s already a bad start. Page looks as if no further developement is going on.
    This program really does only one thing, absolutely no further features beyond merging/joining PDFs.

  • Combine PDFs

  • PDFGarden

If I was looking for merging only PDF Merge would be the one. But since the prices don’t differ that much why not take some more functions? Looks like Combine PFDs is the winner although I definitely prefer the user interface of PDFGarden.

Non of them has OCR.

Can’t you already do this with preview?

  1. Open 2 PDF.
  2. Grab page from PDF 1 to PDF 2.

To add image can’t you print the image to PDF then use the above to insert? Similar ideas for the remaining functions.

The only problem that I can see reformatting the text inside a PDF. I would think that one would want to use the source files (pdf is not a native format) for that.

No, I can’t grab or copy & paste anything from one Preview window to another.

With images you’re right, like everything else you can print you can also print to PDF. Because of that the option to include images directly is not a very important feature.

Just because I am slow today… You want to copy a sentence or 2 from one PDF (not the whole page) and add it to another PDF, but you don’t want to use an intermediary document. Is that right?

If so I would reiterate the point that PDF is not a format that is designed to be editable in that manner. It is a delivery format that was designed to ensure that content was displayed as intended by the publisher (creator of the pdf).

I use PDFclerk Pro which is excellent.



For annotating PDFs, merging PDFs (i.e. appending 1 PDF to another, or adding pages from one PDF to another) or even just rearranging the order of pages in a PDF, I use Preview in OSX. I used to use Skim and PDF Lab, but with the advances in Leopard, and even more so in Snow Leopard, I use Preview almost exclusively.

suavito: you can drag one PDF into another using Preview, but you need to do it using the Sidebar. With the Sidebar visible, you simply select the item in the Sidebar you want (whether a page or an entire document) and drag it where you want it (whether within or between documents), then save the results. Most definitely works (I don’t do it often, but just did it a couple of minutes ago).

I second this. In snow leopard you do have to pay a little more attention. You have to drag that second PDF onto the image of the first PDF in the sidebar, hold it there and the first PDF will expand (if it has more than one page). It’s a bit weird to explain, but multiple page PDF’s in Snow Leopard have a sort of binder-image, instead of just the first page. When you drag and hold another PDF onto it, the image will expand and show all pages. You can then add your dragged PDF to it.
Hope this makes sense…


Forgot to say: Preview also allows you to delete pages and to add blank pages. Since you can print to PDF (and then insert those PDFs into existing files), annotate PDFs, change metadata, add notes and diagrams, all within Preview, I rarely use anything else these days.

I use PDFPen Pro for anything other than reading PDFs. For that I use Skim. PDFPen Pro should allow you to merge PDFs, and cut pages from PDFs. They have just released a new version which says has improved the OCR considerably, but I haven’t tried that yet.


Preview allows annotations? :open_mouth:

Did not realize that. Though I did find that handy merge-together-as-one-document possibility recently, on accident.