How to Combine PDF Files: 5 Methods

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Being able to combine PDF files is a valuable skill for anyone dealing with digital documents. It's especially useful if you're working with several documents and need to share the materials with others.

For instance, sending multiple PDFs via email, may exceed the maximum allowed size of the attachment. Instead of compressing all the documents one by one to fit the requirements, merge your PDF files first and then compress only one file.

In this article, we will describe 5 easy and free ways of how to combine PDF files. Check them out to see which one works best for you!

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How we picked PDF mergers

To come up with this list, we chose 5 best PDF mergers and online services that offer to join PDFs for free. Other criteria we also considered are the following:

  • Support for various OS: some PDF joiners only run on Windows, some - only on macOS, while others are cross-platform.
  • All the described services to combine PDF files have a simple clear interface and are easy to use even by not-experienced users.
  • The services and software all have additional functionality, some even offer PRO versions with advanced tools.

Icecream PDF Split&Merge

This PDF merging software is a fast and efficient way to manage and organize your documents. The PDF software is super easy to use and has versions for Windows and macOS.

Here's a quick step-by-step guide how to use it:

  1. Download and install the latest version of the free PDF combiner for PC from the official website.
  2. Launch the program and click "Merge PDF" from the main window.
  3. Click "Add files" to select the PDFs that you want to collect into one consolidated file.
  4. Use the arrows on the right side of each file to rearrange the order of the PDFs.
  5. When you are finished, hit the "Merge" button.
  6. Enter a name for your newly merged document pick the destination location, and then click "Save".

Using the Icecream PDF Split and Merge has many benefits including:

  • Simple and intuitive GUI that makes it easy to use for everyone to combine PDF files, regardless of experience level.
  • Option to rearrange the order of PDF files in the merged document with just a few simple clicks.
  • Fast PDF merging process that takes less than a minute even for large files.
  • Supports all versions of Windows OS including XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10 as well as macOS, starting from OS X 10.9 Mavericks and X Yosemite.

Cons:

  • PDF software allows to merge only up to 3 documents with the free version; however, the PRO is quite affordable - $19.95 for a lifetime license.

With this program, you can also split a big PDF if you need to extract outdated pages or create two documents out of one. Overall, it is an ideal tool for quickly joining multiple PDFs into one file without any difficulty.

Apple Preview

Combining PDFs with the native macOS PDF reader and editor is a great way to save time and effort when you need to manage multiple documents. It's easy to use and you can join PDF files quickly with the right steps.

This guide will show you how to merge PDF files with the program:

  1. Open the "Finder" on your Mac and choose the PDFs that you desire to merge.
  2. Right-click and choose "Open With", and then "Preview". Do the same with another file.
  3. In the "View" drop down menu, pick Thumbnails to see all the pages.
  4. Select the pages you want to include in your combined file by clicking on each page's thumbnail, then drag and drop them into the other document.
  5. Repeat step 4 for any extra pages you wish to add. The changes will be saved automatically.
Free PDF Merger for macOS - Preview

Pros:

  • Pre-installed macOS-specific PDF software to view and edit PDF documents.
  • Completely free way to merge PDF with no additional plugins required.

Cons:

  • To merge multiple PDF files, you will have to manually drag and drop all the pages from them into one document.

With the Apple Preview, you will be able to combine multiple PDF files on Mac without getting a third-party program. More to that, you will also be able to make edits to your PDF files, like add annotations, notes, add and delete pages, and more.

Combine PDF

If you wish to join several PDFs, the website Combine PDF is an effortless approach to get it done. This free online PDF merger enables the rapid combining of numerous PDFs without the necessity of installing any software on your computer.

Here is a step-by-step guide for combining PDF files through the platform:

  1. Go to the website. You don't have to sign up but you can create an account and link it to your Dropbox or Google Drive.
  2. Add the PDFs with the "Upload Files" button. Once all of the files have been uploaded, adjust their order if necessary.
  3. When you are finished making changes, click "Combine".
  4. The merged document will be downloaded automatically or you can save it directly if you have an account with either of the above-mentioned services linked to your Combine PDF account.
Free online PDF merger - Combine PDF

Pros:

  • No need to install a desktop program as you can merge PDFs on the web.
  • Files are deleted within 60 minutes after you upload them to the service.

Cons:

  • The limit of 20 files per combining operation.
  • Many distracting advertisements around the working area of PDF combiner.

The service has sister websites that allow compressed PDF files, convert PDF to JPG, and vise versa, as some more. Overall, utilizing this web tool provides an efficient means to combine PDF files into one unit.

Small PDF

Small PDF is a quite known online PDF editing service. Among its many tools, it offers an online PDF merger that will help you quickly join your files.

Here's an instruction on how to combine PDF files online:

  1. Visit the platform and under the "Tools" select "Merge PDF".
  2. Click "Choose Files" and pick the PDFs intended for combining from your computer or cloud storage.
  3. Once all your documents are uploaded, adjust the order in which you want them to appear in the merged document.
  4. Hit the "Finish" button and wait for the process to complete.
  5. After a few moments, you'll be able to download your new PDF.
How to merge PDF files online - Small PDF

Pros:

  • To join PDF files, you don't need to sign up for an account, although it is certainly an option.
  • The web platform can used on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and other devices.

Cons:

  • Occasional errors in processing the files appear.

Right after you merge your PDF file, you can continue working on them, for example, compress or set a password on your document. Despite some limitations, Small PDF is an easy and fast way to combine various PDF files into a unified document free of difficulty or expense.

Sejda

Merging PDFs is a breeze using Sejda. The best part of it, you can pick the version of the PDF merger that fits your needs: online or desktop, from Windows, macOS, or even Linux. It is reliable, fast, and secure.

Here's how to combine PDF files with the desktop version:**

  1. Download and install the program on your computer.
  2. Open the application and click the "Merge" tab.
  3. Hit the "Choose PDF & image files" to add documents into the program.
  4. Rearrange the files in any order you like by dragging them around.
  5. When you're ready, click the green "Merge PDF files" button at the bottom of the window. In the pop-up window, set the file's name and pick the folder where to save it.
  6. Await the completion of the processing. Now you can open the location of the file or make other adjustments to it.
Combine PDF files into one with Sejda Desktop

Pros:

  • Cross-platform PDF combiner that allows you to complete tasks for free.
  • Easy navigation in both, the web and desktop versions.

Cons:

  • With the free access, you can only combine PDF if documents of up to 50 pages or 50 MB and complete 3 operations per day.

Sejda is not just a PDF merger. There are other tools to make your work in PDF format smooth and pleasant. Apart from joining PDFs, you can sign digital documents, add a watermark, delete extra pages in a PDF, and more.

Tips on how to combine PDF files

Optimizing file size and quality

Before merging, compress individual PDF files to reduce their size without significantly compromising quality. Experiment with different compression levels to find the optimal balance for your needs.

Remove any redundant or unnecessary elements such as hidden layers, annotations, or metadata to further reduce file size.

Organizing files before merging

If the order of pages is important, organize them appropriately. Most PDF editing software allows you to rearrange pages easily.

Eliminate any blank pages to streamline the document and improve readability.

Handling sensitive information

Protect sensitive information by encrypting the files with PDF passwords. This prevents unauthorized access to the merged document.

Conclusion

To sum up, combining PDF files is a straightforward yet potent procedure. It's important to make sure you have the right PDF merging software and the necessary permissions for each file before beginning.

There are several methods for combining two or more PDF files, from using Adobe Acrobat to a free online tool. In this article, we describe 5 PDF combiners. Ultimately, the method you choose should depend on your specific needs and resources.

Try them all and see which one you like the most!

FAQ

Can I combine PDF files without Adobe?
You don't have to buy expensive Adobe software to complete the simple task of PDF merging. Use any of the described methods, plus there are hundreds of more tools available on the web.
How do I insert a PDF into another PDF?
If you need to insert all the pages of one PDF into another, use a PDF merger. However, if you need only a few pages of a large document, it's best to extract them first and then insert them into the other file.
How do I combine PDF files in Windows for free?
To merge PDFs on Windows for free, you need to get an app, like the mentioned above Icecream PDF Split & Merge or Sejda Desktop. Although not completely free, you can make good use of their gratis functionality and get the job done.
What is the free website to merge PDF files?
A convenient free online PDF combiner can save you a lot of time. Try PDF Candy or any of the mentioned in the article services. They are all reliable, secure, and fast.
Alexandra Meyer

Editor-in-Chief at Icecream Apps

With experience spanning over several years, Alexandra Meyer holds the esteemed position of editor-in-chief at Icecream Apps. Originally involved in the website's establishment in 2014, Alexandra now ensures the maintenance of the company's exceptional content standards across their various projects. Specializing in technology, software, online services, and human resources, she has extensively written and edited numerous articles on these subjects.
6 min read
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