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There are a lot of software in Windows to merge PDF files but how can we do the same in Ubuntu?

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15 Answers 15

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pdftk

To merge two pdf files, file1.pdf and file2.pdf:

pdftk file1.pdf file2.pdf cat output mergedfile.pdf

More info available hereWay Back Machine.

To install, run:

sudo snap install pdftk
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  • 14
    pdftk is buggy - bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/pdftk/+bug/779908. gs might be slow, but does the work perfectly [IgnitE's answer] Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 11:05
  • 4
    pdftk has an unusual usage where commands cat and output follow variadic input arguments and followed again by an output argument. Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 3:47
  • 8
    The package seems to have been removed in 2018.04. Commented May 9, 2018 at 9:07
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    FYI: sudo snap install pdftk - there is no release candidate for the aptitude app anymore, it was deprecated by the author, who created the snap package.
    – GrayedFox
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 14:30
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    It works great. To install on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS do: sudo apt install pdftk-java
    – michael
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 8:27
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PDF Arranger formerly known as PDF-Shuffler.

If you want a tool with a simple GUI, try pdfarranger. It allows for merging of PDFs as well as rearranging and deleting pages. For batch processing and/or more complicated tasks, pdftk is of course more powerful.

Screenshot of PDF-Shuffler

To install PDF Arranger in Ubuntu 20.04 and later open the terminal and type:

sudo apt install pdfarranger
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    Installs and works like a charm on 14.04. Thanks a bunch!!
    – Zlatty
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 20:26
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    I can also confirm pdfshuffler works fine on 14.04 amd64.
    – conualfy
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 21:35
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    Also works great on 16.04.1 Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 12:36
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    Tried PdfShuffler 0.6.0 (apt-get install pdfshuffler) on Ubuntu 14.0 64-bit and it works with one caveat - It has problem dealing with some special characters in the filename (in my case pdfshuffler cannot load filename with #) Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 22:28
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    This tool has been renamed to pdfarranger as of Ubuntu 20.04. You can still install pdfshuffler via apt, but it is just an empty pointer to pdfarranger which is also the command you'll need after install. Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 21:29
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Ghostscript is a package (available by default in Ubuntu) that enables you to view or print PostScript and PDF files to other formats, or to convert those files to other formats.
To use Ghostscript to combine PDF files, type something like the following:

gs -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE -q -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dAutoRotatePages=/None -sOutputFile=finished.pdf  file1.pdf file2.pdf

Here is a brief explanation of the command:

gs         starts the Ghostscript program.
-dBATCH    once Ghostscript processes the PDF files, it should exit.
           If you don't include this option, Ghostscript will just keep running.
-dNOPAUSE  forces Ghostscript to process each page without pausing for user interaction.
-q         stops Ghostscript from displaying messages while it works
-sDEVICE=pdfwrite 
           tells Ghostscript to use its built-in PDF writer to process the files.
-sOutputFile=finished.pdf
           tells Ghostscript to save the combined PDF file with the specified name.
-dAutoRotatePages=/None
           Acrobat Distiller parameter AutoRotatePages controls the automatic orientation selection algorithm: For instance: -dAutoRotatePages=/None or /All or /PageByPage.

Your input files don't even need to be PDF files. You can also use PostScript or EPS files, or any mixture of the three.

There is a lot you can do with Ghostscript. You can read its documentation for more details.

Source

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  • 3
    True, but it's incredibly slow. I just tried concatenating 45 x 400K, single-page PDFs. pdftk took 0m0.484s, gs took 1m32.898s (that's almost 200x slower) The file from gs was about 21% smaller though.
    – aidan
    Commented Mar 22, 2013 at 6:47
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    this command also works if you use a wildcard for the list of files to be combined. for example, replace file1.pdf file2.pdf with file*.pdf Commented May 29, 2014 at 13:58
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    For me gs worked with some "non conformant" PDFs where pdftk would just run forever.
    – ntc2
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 4:37
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    @AntoniosHadjigeorgalis Just for reference and good understanding: that's not the command supporting wildcards, that's actually the shell replacing file*.pdf with file1.pdf file2.pdf before passing the arguments to the command.
    – Midgard
    Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 10:15
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    I merged ~20 small pdfs into a single file in a fraction of a femto-second with gs. No need to download 70MB of pdftk. Thanks @ignite!
    – Campa
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 12:37
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You also also use pdfunite to merge pdf documents :

pdfunite in-1.pdf in-2.pdf in-n.pdf out.pdf

To install pdfunite if it is not installed already, run:

sudo apt-get install poppler-utils
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    WARNING: An existing file out.pdf will be overwritten without warning, so pdfunite *.pdf won't work as expected.
    – krlmlr
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 15:02
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    @krlmlr You can always put the output into another directory. Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 15:05
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    Fair enough, cp also overwrites last argument without warning. This is just for rushing users (like myself) -- I was lucky I had a backup of the file in question...
    – krlmlr
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 15:08
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    Upvote: This is a simple command-line tool without a click-and-drool GUI like many of the other answers here. It nicely encapsulates the complexities of the (largely equivalent) GhostScript solution.
    – tripleee
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 14:28
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    This is also very fast. Does the job well. On a very slow server (aws t1.micro), gs takes 9 secs, pdftk takes 4 secs and this pdfunite takes 0.9 secs for merging two files!
    – rsmoorthy
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 19:49
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PDF Chain Install PDF Chain

A very nice solution is PDFChain. It's GUI is a frontend of PDFTK where you can merge, split or even add some background to your PDF files.

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An alternative approach is to use Latex as explained in this post (without root access assuming that you have pdflatex installed): https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/8662/merge-two-pdf-files-output-by-latex

This is useful in case you do not have the mentioned tools nor root privileges, but you do have pdflatex.

I copy the tex code below to merge file1.pdf and file2.pdf. Create a file called output.tex and put:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{pdfpages}
\begin{document}
\includepdf[pages=-]{file1}
\includepdf[pages=-]{file2}
\end{document}

And to compile, simply use: pdflatex output.tex

The merged file will be named as output.pdf.

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  • This is the best approach because the result will always be there, no bugs Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 9:04
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    This breaks hyperlinks. Commented Oct 7, 2023 at 6:27
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Give PDFMod a try, it’s from the GNOME project:

https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/PdfMod

sudo apt install pdfmod
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  • does not do merging.
    – user2413
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 6:44
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    it did merging in the past, now it's just crashing, I used the pdfshuffler instead and it worked great
    – jena
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 21:41
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Use pdfsam http://www.pdfsam.org/ it's very good for splitting and merging pdfs

sudo apt install pdfsam
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  • Used it under 19.10 to merge file: simple interface, a few options, works very well. But other features such as crop are premium options. sudo apt-get install pdfshuffler did the trick :-)
    – Will59
    Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 10:35
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I use pdfseparate to extract specific pages from big pdf file:

pdfseparate -f  156 -l 157 input.pdf  output_%d.pdf 
pdfseparate -f  1   -l 2   input.pdf  output_%d.pdf 

and aftewards I join them all via command:

pdfunite $(ls -v output_*.pdf | tr '\n' ' ') out$(date  +%Y-%m-%d_%H_%M_%S ).pdf

This joins:

output_1.pdf output_2.pdf output_156.pdf output_157.pdf  

into:

out2014-12-14_23_25_36.pdf

May be there is an easier way how to cope... :-)

Installation instructions:

sudo apt install poppler-utils
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    The process substitution is superfluous and potentially even harmful. A correct an much simpler command line is pdfunite output_*.pdf out$(date +%Y-%m-%d-%H_%M_%S).pdf but it lacks the ordering of ls -v. An obvious and trivial fix is to name your files so that they naturally sort in the order you want to include them. If you absolutely want ls -v, you can at least lose the pipe to tr, which accomplishes nothing here.
    – tripleee
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 14:24
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You can also use jPDFTweak, pdfsam or pdfjam.

(That said, I use pdftk.)

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    It would be better if these were separate answers so that they could be upvoted separately and edited separately.
    – Flimm
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 8:51
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You can use pdftk to merge and modify PDF documents in general. Alternatively there's an online service to do just that: http://www.pdfmerge.com/

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You can see use the free and open source pdftools (disclaimer: I am the author of it).

It is basically a Python interface to the Latex pdfpages package.

To merge pdf files one by one, you can run:

pdftools --input-file file1.pdf --input-file file2.pdf --output output.pdf

To merge together all the pdf files in a directory, you can run:

pdftools --input-dir ./dir_with_pdfs --output output.pdf
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Here is my approach:

  • I wanted it to be easily accessible so I created a right-click shortcut in Nautilus (see https://help.ubuntu.com/community/NautilusScriptsHowto)
  • I wanted it to be very quick so I used pdfunite
  • pdfunite only accepts the filepaths in the middle of the command so I had to scratch my head to manage the spaces in the filepaths. So I took the assumption that all filepaths will start with "/home/" and end with ".pdf"

Here is the result:

#!/bin/sh
CLEANED_FILE_PATHS=$(echo $NAUTILUS_SCRIPT_SELECTED_FILE_PATHS | sed 's,.pdf /home/,.pdf\\n/home/,g')
echo $CLEANED_FILE_PATHS | bash -c 'IFS=$'"'"'\n'"'"' read -d "" -ra x;pdfunite "${x[@]}" merged.pdf'

Juste paste this script in

/home/your_username/.local/share/nautilus/scripts

and name it "merge_pdfs.sh" (for example). Then make it executable (right-click on merge_pdfs.sh -> Permissions tab -> tick "Allow executing file as a program"

So now to merge pdf files, you just have to select them -> right click -> scripts -> merge_pdfs.sh and it will create a "merged.pdf" file in the same directory

Hope it helps!

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I did not find pdfarranger in snap (Ubuntu 22.04).

Thus I installed sudo snap install pdfmerger.

This tool also has a simplistic GUI and worked perfectly for me.

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qpdf

This also worked for me:

sudo apt install qpdf
qpdf --empty --pages in1.pdf in2.pdf in3.pdf -- out.pdf

For some encryption related reason which I don't fully understand pdftk in1.pdf in2.pdf in3.pdf cat output out.pdf, pdftk was failing with:

Error: Invalid PDF: unknown.encryption.type.r

on certain PDFs I downloaded, even though they didn't require a password to open.

Related threads:

Source code: https://github.com/qpdf/qpdf

License: Apache.

Project description:

QPDF is a command-line tool and C++ library that performs content-preserving transformations on PDF files. It supports linearization encryption, and numerous other features. It can also be used for splitting and merging files, creating PDF files (but you have to supply all the content yourself), and inspecting files for study or analysis. QPDF does not render PDFs or perform text extraction, and it does not contain higher-level interfaces for working with page contents. It is a low-level tool for working with the structure of PDF files and can be a valuable tool for anyone who wants to do programmatic or command-line-based manipulation of PDF files.

Tested on Ubuntu 23.10, pdftk 3.3.3, qpdf 11.5.0.

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