Chapter 5. Manipulating PDF Files

Introduction: Hacks #51-73

A lot of people think of PDFs as frozen files, printed once and then impossible to modify. That isn't the case, however! Whether you have Adobe Acrobat or not, there are lots of ways to manipulate PDF files: breaking them up, making their file sizes smaller, encrypting and decrypting them, and presenting them to users in different ways.

Hack #51. Split and Merge PDF Documents (Even Without Acrobat)

You can create new documents from existing PDF files by breaking the PDFs into smaller pieces or combining them with information from other PDFs.

As a document proceeds through its lifecycle, it can undergo many changes. It might be assembled from individual sections and then compiled into a larger report. Individual pages might be copied into a personal reference document. Sections might be replaced as new information becomes available. Some documents are agglomerations of smaller pieces, like an expense report with all of its lovely and easily lost receipts.

While it's easy to manipulate paper pages by hand, you must use a program to manipulate PDF pages. Adobe Acrobat can do this for you, but it is expensive. Other commercial products, such as pdfmeld from FyTek (, also provide this basic functionality. The pdftk PDF toolkit [Hack #79] is a free software alternative.

Quickly Combine Pages in Acrobat

In Acrobat 6, select File Create PDF From Multiple Files . . . . Click the Browse . . . button (Choose ...

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