Do you have any idea how to extract a part of a PDF document and save it as PDF? On OS X it is absolutely trivial by using Preview. I tried PDF editor and other programs but to no avail.

I would like a program where I select the part that I want and then save it as pdf with a simple command like CMD+N on OS X. I want the extracted part to be saved in PDF format and not jpeg etc.

  • Did you try ImageMagick? – Martin Schröder Nov 26 '12 at 7:51
  • 2
    That's for bitmap I need something that saves as PDF! – user72469 Nov 27 '12 at 6:18
  • 3
    pdfshuffler in the repos. – Marc Mar 6 '14 at 23:44
  • 1
    pdfshuffler doen't work anymore in Ubuntu 14.04+. You can always use the print dialog or a terminal based alternative like pdfseparate – Rho Mar 7 '16 at 20:00
  • @Rho The version directly installed via apt-get still works fine for me in 16.04. Maybe they fixed the bugs, if there were some? – xji Feb 15 '17 at 16:48

14 Answers 14

pdftk is a useful multi-platform tool for the job (pdftk homepage).

pdftk full-pdf.pdf cat 12-15 output outfile_p12-15.pdf

you pass the filename of the main pdf, then you tell it to only include certain pages (12-15 in this example) and output it to a new file.

  • 4
    If I want to extract pages 1-10, 15, and 17, how do I write the command? – Patrick Li Oct 12 '16 at 8:26
  • 19
    @PatrickLi pdftk A=in.pdf cat A1-10 A15 A17 output out.pdf – m8mble Oct 28 '16 at 12:06
  • 5
    Note that pdftk is not available in Ubuntu 18.04. (see askubuntu.com/questions/1028522/…) – alkamid Jun 30 at 12:05
  • 1
    @alkamid it is: sudo snap install pdftk – Qubix Sep 23 at 18:51
  • @Qubix thanks. You don't need sudo BTW. – alkamid Oct 13 at 12:01

very Simple, use default PDF reader :

print as file. that is it! print menu

then

setting new PDF

  • 9
    flippin brilliant – andybleaden Dec 22 '14 at 17:28
  • 11
    Produces catastrophic results with beamer files, maps and any other documents that do not conform with the printer page format. – Luís de Sousa Jan 13 '15 at 13:48
  • 6
    This can result in file with a much larger size than the original document. – dat Dec 8 '15 at 17:06
  • 5
    so it does not "extract" the page range. It creates a new pdf from the old one, as if you used high-definition printer/scanner pair. – sylvainulg Aug 11 '16 at 9:36
  • 3
    Good for simple cases, but undesired results in documents with highlighting comments: the highlighting becomes 100% opacity and blocks the text. – loved.by.Jesus Oct 16 '16 at 20:30

Page range - Nautilus script


Overview

I created a slightly more advanced script based on the tutorial @ThiagoPonte linked to. Its key features are

  • that it's GUI based,
  • compatible with spaces in file names,
  • and based on three different backends that are capable of preserving all attributes of the original file

Screenshot

enter image description here

Code

#!/bin/bash
#
# TITLE:        PDFextract
#
# AUTHOR:       (c) 2013-2015 Glutanimate (https://github.com/Glutanimate)
#
# VERSION:      0.2
#
# LICENSE:      GNU GPL v3 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html)
# 
# OVERVIEW:     PDFextract is a simple PDF extraction script based on Ghostscript/qpdf/cpdf.
#               It provides a simple way to extract a page range from a PDF document and is meant
#               to be used as a file manager script/addon (e.g. Nautilus script).
#
# FEATURES:     - simple GUI based on YAD, an advanced Zenity fork.
#               - preserves _all_ attributes of your original PDF file and does not compress 
#                 embedded images further than they are.      
#               - can choose from three different backends: ghostscript, qpdf, cpdf
#
# DEPENDENCIES: ghostscript/qpdf/cpdf poppler-utils yad libnotify-bin
#                         
#               You need to install at least one of the three backends supported by this script.
#
#               - ghostscript, qpdf, poppler-utils, and libnotify-bin are available via 
#                 the standard Ubuntu repositories
#               - cpdf is a commercial CLI PDF toolkit that is free for personal use.
#                 It can be downloaded here: https://github.com/coherentgraphics/cpdf-binaries
#               - yad can be installed from the webupd8 PPA with the following command:
#                 sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/y-ppa-manager && apt-get update && apt-get install yad
#
# NOTES:        Here is a quick comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of each backend:
#
#                               speed     metadata preservation     content preservation        license
#               ghostscript:     --               ++                         ++               open-source
#               cpdf:             -               ++                         ++               proprietary
#               qpdf:            ++                +                         ++               open-source
#
#               Results might vary depending on the document and the version of the tool in question.
#
# INSTALLATION: https://askubuntu.com/a/236415
#
# This script was inspired by Kurt Pfeifle's PDF extraction script 
# (http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/tech-tip-extract-pages-pdf)
#
# Originally posted on askubuntu
# (https://askubuntu.com/a/282453)

# Variables

DOCUMENT="$1"
BACKENDSELECTION="^qpdf!ghostscript!cpdf"

# Functions

check_input(){
  if [[ -z "$1" ]]; then
    notify "Error: No input file selected."
    exit 1
  elif [[ ! "$(file -ib "$1")" == *application/pdf* ]]; then
    notify "Error: Not a valid PDF file."
    exit 1
  fi
}

check_deps () {
  for i in "$@"; do
    type "$i" > /dev/null 2>&1 
    if [[ "$?" != "0" ]]; then
      MissingDeps+="$i"
    fi
  done
}

ghostscriptextract(){
  gs -dFirstPage="$STARTPAGE "-dLastPage="$STOPPAGE" -sOutputFile="$OUTFILE" -dSAFER -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -dPDFSETTING=/default -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dCompressFonts=true -c \
  ".setpdfwrite << /EncodeColorImages true /DownsampleMonoImages false /SubsetFonts true /ASCII85EncodePages false /DefaultRenderingIntent /Default /ColorConversionStrategy \
  /LeaveColorUnchanged /MonoImageDownsampleThreshold 1.5 /ColorACSImageDict << /VSamples [ 1 1 1 1 ] /HSamples [ 1 1 1 1 ] /QFactor 0.4 /Blend 1 >> /GrayACSImageDict \
  << /VSamples [ 1 1 1 1 ] /HSamples [ 1 1 1 1 ] /QFactor 0.4 /Blend 1 >> /PreserveOverprintSettings false /MonoImageResolution 300 /MonoImageFilter /FlateEncode \
  /GrayImageResolution 300 /LockDistillerParams false /EncodeGrayImages true /MaxSubsetPCT 100 /GrayImageDict << /VSamples [ 1 1 1 1 ] /HSamples [ 1 1 1 1 ] /QFactor \
  0.4 /Blend 1 >> /ColorImageFilter /FlateEncode /EmbedAllFonts true /UCRandBGInfo /Remove /AutoRotatePages /PageByPage /ColorImageResolution 300 /ColorImageDict << \
  /VSamples [ 1 1 1 1 ] /HSamples [ 1 1 1 1 ] /QFactor 0.4 /Blend 1 >> /CompatibilityLevel 1.7 /EncodeMonoImages true /GrayImageDownsampleThreshold 1.5 \
  /AutoFilterGrayImages false /GrayImageFilter /FlateEncode /DownsampleGrayImages false /AutoFilterColorImages false /DownsampleColorImages false /CompressPages true \
  /ColorImageDownsampleThreshold 1.5 /PreserveHalftoneInfo false >> setdistillerparams" -f "$DOCUMENT"
}

cpdfextract(){
  cpdf "$DOCUMENT" "$STARTPAGE-$STOPPAGE" -o "$OUTFILE"
}

qpdfextract(){
  qpdf --linearize "$DOCUMENT" --pages "$DOCUMENT" "$STARTPAGE-$STOPPAGE" -- "$OUTFILE"
  echo "$OUTFILE"
  return 0 # even benign qpdf warnings produce error codes, so we suppress them
}

notify(){
  echo "$1"
  notify-send -i application-pdf "PDFextract" "$1"
}

dialog_warning(){
  echo "$1"
  yad --center --image dialog-warning \
  --title "PDFExtract Warning" \
  --text "$1" \
  --button="Try again:0" \
  --button="Exit:1"

  [[ "$?" != "0" ]] && exit 0
}

dialog_settings(){
  PAGECOUNT=$(pdfinfo "$DOCUMENT" | grep Pages | sed 's/[^0-9]*//') #determine page count

  SETTINGS=($(\
      yad --form --width 300 --center \
          --window-icon application-pdf --image application-pdf \
          --separator=" " --title="PDFextract"\
          --text "Please choose the page range and backend"\
          --field="Start:NUM" 1[!1..$PAGECOUNT[!1]] --field="End:NUM" $PAGECOUNT[!1..$PAGECOUNT[!1]] \
          --field="Backend":CB "$BACKENDSELECTION" \
          --button="gtk-ok:0" --button="gtk-cancel:1"\
      ))

  SETTINGSRET="$?"

  [[ "$SETTINGSRET" != "0" ]] && exit 1

  STARTPAGE=$(printf %.0f ${SETTINGS[0]}) #round numbers and store array in variables
  STOPPAGE=$(printf %.0f ${SETTINGS[1]})
  BACKEND="${SETTINGS[2]}"
  EXTRACTOR="${BACKEND}extract"

  check_deps "$BACKEND"

  if [[ -n "$MissingDeps" ]]; then
    dialog_warning "Error, missing dependency: $MissingDeps"
    unset MissingDeps
    dialog_settings
    return
  fi

  if [[ "$STARTPAGE" -gt "$STOPPAGE" ]]; then 
    dialog_warning "<b>   Start page higher than stop page.   </b>"
    dialog_settings
    return
  fi

  OUTFILE="${DOCUMENT%.pdf} (p${STARTPAGE}-p${STOPPAGE}).pdf"
}

extract_pages(){
  $EXTRACTOR
  EXTRACTORRET="$?"
  if [[ "$EXTRACTORRET" = "0" ]]; then
    notify "Pages $STARTPAGE to $STOPPAGE succesfully extracted."
  else
    notify "There has been an error. Please check the CLI output."
  fi
}


# Main

check_input "$1"
dialog_settings
extract_pages

Installation

Please follow the generic installation instructions for Nautilus scripts. Make sure to read the script header carefully as it will help to clarify the installation and usage of the script.


Partial pages - PDF Shuffler


Overview

PDF-Shuffler is a small python-gtk application, which helps the user to merge or split pdf documents and rotate, crop and rearrange their pages using an interactive and intuitive graphical interface. It is a frontend for python-pyPdf.

Installation

sudo apt-get install pdfshuffler

Usage

PDF-Shuffler can crop and delete single PDF pages. You can use it to extract a page range from a document or even partial pages using the cropping function:

enter image description here


Page elements - Inkscape


Overview

Inkscape is a very powerful open-source vector graphics editor. It supports a wide range of different formats, including PDF files. You can use it to extract, modify and save page elements from a PDF file.

Installation

sudo apt-get install inkscape

Usage

1.) Open the PDF file of your choice with Inkscape. An import dialog will appear. Choose the page you want to extract elements from. Leave the other settings as they are:

enter image description here

2.) In Inkscape click and drag to select the element(s) you want to extract:

enter image description here

3.) Invert the selection with ! and delete the selected object with DELETE:

enter image description here

4.) Crop the document to the remaining objects by accessing the Document Properties dialog with CTRL+SHIFT+D and selecting "fit document to image":

enter image description here

5.) Save the document as a PDF file from the File --> Save as dialog:

6.) If there are bitmap/raster images in your cropped document you can set their DPI in the dialog that appears next:

enter image description here

7.) If you followed all steps you will have produced a true PDF file that only consists of the objects of your choice:

enter image description here

  • Great effort. Thanks! I understand that it does not allow to select a portion of a page, but only whole pages. Am I right? – carnendil Apr 17 '13 at 23:36
  • 2
    @carnendil : Yes, exactly. I don't think ghostscript is capable of that. But there might be other solutions out there to do this programmatically. For now I have edited my answer with an alternate (and a bit hackish) solution using PDF-shuffler. – Glutanimate Apr 18 '13 at 5:11
  • 3
    ok, I've added a different method using Inkscape. – Glutanimate Apr 18 '13 at 6:13
  • 1
    pdfshuffler is not sufficient if you want to extract a part of the PDF page. The original PDF data of the page is still preserved in the file. Do not use this method if you want to remove sensitive data from a PDF file. – Rob W Nov 7 '15 at 11:48

Save this as a shell script, like pdfextractor.sh:

#!/bin/bash
# this function uses 3 arguments:
#     $1 is the first page of the range to extract
#     $2 is the last page of the range to extract
#     $3 is the input file
#     output file will be named "inputfile_pXX-pYY.pdf"
gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -dSAFER \
   -dFirstPage=${1} \
   -dLastPage=${2} \
   -sOutputFile=${3%.pdf}_p${1}-p${2}.pdf \
   ${3}

To run type:

./pdfextractor.sh 4 20 myfile.pdf

1)4 refers to the page it will start the new pdf.

2)20 refers to the page it will end the pdf with.

3)myfile.pdf is the pdf file you want to extract parts.

The output would be myfile_p4_p20.pdf in the same directory the original pdf file.

All this and more information here: Tech Tip

  • 11
    Let's keep it simple: gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -dFirstPage=1 -dLastPage=10 -sOutputFile=output.pdf input.pdf – Ho1 Sep 9 '15 at 7:14
  • and How do I specify input file? – Anwar Aug 4 '16 at 10:53
  • 1
    -1 for doing bash parameter expansion outside double-quoted string. (should be "-sOutputFile=${3%.pdf}_p${1}-p${2}.pdf" etc. (note the quotes)). – Rotsor Jan 21 '17 at 16:16
  • @Ho1 please write it as a new answer, it really helps! – Joshua Salazar Oct 3 at 18:36

QPDF is great. Use it this way to extract pages 1-10 from input.pdf and save it as output.pdf.

qpdf --pages input.pdf 1-10 -- input.pdf output.pdf

Please note that input.pdf is written twice.

You can install it by invoking:

apt-get install qpdf

Or, by going to Ubuntu apps directory:

Install via the software center

It is a great tool for PDF manipulation, which is very fast, has very few dependencies. "It can encrypt and linearize files, expose the internals of a PDF file, and do many other operations useful to end users and PDF developers."

http://sourceforge.net/projects/qpdf/

  • 2
    The only problem I had with this is that is still lists all the pages in the table of contents, despite most being removed. Apart from, brilliant thanks! :) – Wilf Nov 10 '15 at 14:24
  • 1
    Great software. Nice – Anwar Aug 4 '16 at 11:42

There is a command line utility called pdfseparate.

From the docs:

pdfseparate sample.pdf sample-%d.pdf

extracts  all pages from sample.pdf, if i.e. sample.pdf has 3 pages, it
   produces

sample-1.pdf, sample-2.pdf, sample-3.pdf

Or, to select a single page (in this case, the first page) from the file sample.pdf:

pdfseparate -f 1 -l 1 sample.pdf sample-1.pdf
  • 2
    great tool! much faster than pdftk – Anwar Apr 8 '15 at 5:57
  • 3
    Good, but it is only limited to one page, and if you want more than that, you will get separate pages. – Ho1 Sep 9 '15 at 7:19
  • 1
    Sure, though one can follow the above command with pdfunite to produce a single document. – jdmcbr Sep 9 '15 at 15:22
  • 3
    If you have a huge document and need to split all pages, it is really fast and useful. – MEDVIS Apr 27 '16 at 10:32

pdftk (sudo apt-get install pdftk) is a great command line too for PDF manipulation. Here are some examples of what pdftk can do:

   Collate scanned pages
     pdftk A=even.pdf B=odd.pdf shuffle A B output collated.pdf
     or if odd.pdf is in reverse order:
     pdftk A=even.pdf B=odd.pdf shuffle A Bend-1 output collated.pdf

   Join in1.pdf and in2.pdf into a new PDF, out1.pdf
     pdftk in1.pdf in2.pdf cat output out1.pdf
     or (using handles):
     pdftk A=in1.pdf B=in2.pdf cat A B output out1.pdf
     or (using wildcards):
     pdftk *.pdf cat output combined.pdf

   Remove page 13 from in1.pdf to create out1.pdf
     pdftk in.pdf cat 1-12 14-end output out1.pdf
     or:
     pdftk A=in1.pdf cat A1-12 A14-end output out1.pdf

   Burst a single PDF document into pages and dump its data to
   doc_data.txt
     pdftk in.pdf burst

   Rotate the first PDF page to 90 degrees clockwise
     pdftk in.pdf cat 1east 2-end output out.pdf

   Rotate an entire PDF document to 180 degrees
     pdftk in.pdf cat 1-endsouth output out.pdf

In your case, I would do:

     pdftk A=input.pdf cat A<page_range> output output.pdf

In any system that a TeX distribution is installed:

pdfjam <input file> <page ranges> -o <output file>

For example:

pdfjam original.pdf 5-10 -o out.pdf

See https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/79626/8666

Have you tried PDF Mod?

You can for example.. extract pages and save them as pdf.

Description:

PDF Mod is a simple tool for modifying PDF documents. It can rotate, extract, remove
and reorder pages via drag and drop. Multiple documents may be combined via drag
and drop. You may also edit the title, subject, author and keywords of a PDF
document using PDF Mod.

Install via the software center

Hope this will useful.

Regars.

  • YES, I actually did try it but it does NOT allow me to save part of a page e.g. a plot as pdf... Unless I dont see the option. It allows me to extract a whole page from a document but that is not what I want – user72469 Nov 26 '12 at 2:21
  • I use it regularly, great tool! but I had a document with about 170 pages that pdfmod could not handle. – loved.by.Jesus Oct 16 '16 at 20:54
  • Wow. This is surprisingly smooth. Threw my 512 page real book at it (50MiB) and it... was prompt. UI is a breeze. For a CLI junkie like me it takes some level of GUI to convince me, but this will do! – sehe Oct 12 '17 at 6:50
  • PDF Mod has bugs running in Kubuntu 18 – Joshua Salazar Oct 3 at 18:37

As it turns out, I can do it with imagemagick. If you don't have it, install simply with:

sudo apt-get install imagemagick

Note 1: I've tried this with a one-page pdf (I'm learning to use imagemagick, so I didn't want more trouble than necessary). I don't know if/how it will work with multiple pages, but you can extract one page of interest with pdftk:

pdftk A=myfile.pdf cat A1 output page1.pdf

where you indicate the page number to be split out (in the example above, A1 selects the first page).

Note 2: The resulting image using this procedure will be a raster.


Open the pdf with the command display, which is part of the imagemagick suite:

display file.pdf

Mine looked like this:

imagemagick display of a pdf
Click on the image to see a full resolution version

Now you click on the window and a menu will pop to the side. There, select Transform | Crop.

imagemagick transform>crop menu

Back in the main window, you can select the area you want to crop by simply dragging the pointer (classic corner-to-corner selection).

selection of area to crop
Notice the hand-shaped pointer around the image while selecting

This selection can be refined before proceeding to the next step.

Once you are done, take notice of the little rectangle that appears on the upper left corner (see the image above). It shows the dimensions of the area selected first (e.g. 281x218) and second the coordinates of the first corner (e.g. +256+215).

Write down the dimensions of the selected area; you'll need it at the moment of saving the cropped image.

Now, back at the pop menu (which now is the specific "crop" menu), click the button Crop.

imagemagick crop menu

Finally, once you are satisfied with the results of cropping, click on menu File | Save

Navigate to the folder where you want to save the cropped pdf, type a name, click the button Format, on the "Select image format type" window select PDF and click the button Select. Back on the "Browse and select a file" window, click the button Save.

imagemagick save as pdf

Before saving, imagemagick will ask to "select page geometry". Here, you type the dimensions of your cropped image, using a simple letter "x" to separate width and height.

imagemagick select page geometry

Now, you can do all this perfectly from the command line (the command is convert with option -crop) -- surely it's faster, but you would have to know beforehand the coordinates of the image you want to extract. Check man convert and an example in their webpage.

  • DIdn't know about imagemagick's GUI. Looks interesting. However, please correct me if I'm wrong but I think imagemagick can't handle vectorized images. So what you're exporting is likely going to be a raster/bitmap image only. In that case this method is the same as taking taking a screenshot of a region of the document. – Glutanimate Apr 19 '13 at 8:23
  • 1
    Indeed, imagemagick works only raster images, and display is just one command of the suite. There are plenty of interfaces for imagemagick -- check their webpage. For vector images the best solution is, I think, your method with Inkscape. – carnendil Apr 19 '13 at 15:00
  • 2
    You might want to add a disclaimer at the top of the answer as a caution that this will convert from vector to raster graphics. This property makes it a fundamentally different approach. – bluenote10 Jul 9 '14 at 15:10

I was trying to do the same. All you have to do is:

  1. install pdftk:

    sudo apt-get install pdftk
    
  2. if you want to extract random pages:

    pdftk myoldfile.pdf cat 1 2 4 5 output mynewfile.pdf
    
  3. if you want to extract a range:

    pdftk myoldfile.pdf cat 1-2 4-5 output mynewfile.pdf
    

Please check the source for more infos.

PDF Split and Merge is quite useful for this and other PDF manipulation operations.

Download from here

  • 1
    You can download the latest version from the link above, but if you prefer the convenience of the Software Center, you can also install it from there (or from the terminal, through sudo apt-get install pdfsam). However, the version in Ubuntu is quite outdated, as it's still in version 1.1.4 whereas the sourceforge version is already 2.2.2. – Waldir Leoncio Feb 14 '14 at 18:00
  • The latest 3.x (currently 3.1.0) has a .deb package that can be installed on Ubuntu and has an Extract Pages module that does what the OP asked – Andrea Vacondio Aug 6 '16 at 8:25
  • 1
    @Andrea Vacondio Bravo for your excellent edit! You're helping to make the internet safe. I found out that the file from the old link at sourceforge.net has crap embedded in it . The new owners of the SourceForge website said they were going to stop doing this, but obviously they lied. – karel Aug 6 '16 at 8:41

As the original user asked for an interactive tool and not a command line tool: An easy solution is to use any PDF viewer (okular on Kubuntu, evince or even Firefox on Ubuntu) and then just use the standard print dialog, choose "print to PDF file", and then select in the extended settings dialog, which pages to "print". This variant has some drawbacks, as some gimmicks on the original PDF (like rotated pages, forms etc.) might get lost, but it works straightforward for most simple PDFs.

If you want to extract from your PDFs, you can use http://www.sumnotes.net. It's an amazing tool to extract notes, highlights, and images from PDFs. You can also watch tutorials on Youtube by typing sumnotes.

I hope you will enjoy it!

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