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How to combine PDFs into one document on Windows and Mac for free

You don't need to pay for Adobe Acrobat to combine multiple PDFs. Here are two ways to do it.

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Sarah Tew

Working with PDFs can be tricky, especially if you're trying to merge multiple documents together. Maybe you're constructing a portfolio, or maybe you just want to reduce file clutter. Whatever the reason, it can be confusing to keep lots of documents straight, but it's also tricky to figure out how to bring them together.

One of the most popular tools for combining PDFs is Adobe Acrobat, but that software will cost you at least $13 a month for a subscription. Luckily, there are a few other ways you can combine PDFs for free, no matter what type of computer you're using. 

Here's how to combine multiple PDFs for free, whether you're working on a Windows device or a Mac. (We've also got tricks for how to easily sign PDFs, and four free apps for better PDF editing.)

How to combine PDFs on Windows

If you're using Windows, you'll need a third-party app to help you combine PDFs. We tested a few, and found a solid option in PDF Merger & Splitter by AnywaySoft. It's available through the Microsoft Store for free. At the time of this writing, it had 4.8 stars and 222 reviews. 

Here's how to merge PDFs with this app:

  • Open the app, and choose Merge or Split. If you just need to merge two documents without changing the order of any pages, choose Merge.
  • Click Add PDFs, and select however many you want to merge. You have the option to move them up or down, or sort by name. You can also preview what the merged documents will look like. 
  • Once your documents are in order, hit Merge, and name and save the new merged PDF. 

If you want to customize your merger a bit more, such as by changing the order of pages or only adding in certain parts of each PDF, you'll have to split them first. To do that, select Split when the app opens. Choose which individual pages or page ranges you want to pull out. You can save them as one PDF, or as individual PDFs. 

How to combine PDFs on Mac

On Mac, you can combine PDFs with a built-in tool found in Preview, according to Apple Support.

Here's how to combine two PDFs:

  • Open a PDF in Preview.
  • Go to View > Thumbnails. You'll see page thumbnails in the sidebar.
  • Select the thumbnail for the page where you want to insert the other document.
  • Click Edit > Insert > Page from File (if the Page from File selection is dimmed so you can't click it, make sure that the file you have open is a PDF. Some encrypted PDF documents can't be merged, according to Apple. Check the permissions of a PDF by choosing Tools > Show Inspector, then click the lock icon).
  • Select the PDF you want to add, and click Open.
  • Choose File > Export as PDF to save.

And here's how to combine parts of one PDF with another PDF:

  • Open the PDFs you want to combine in Preview.
  • In each document, choose View > Thumbnails. You'll see page thumbnails in the sidebar.
  • Press and hold the Command key, and select the page thumbnails that you want to add to the other document. Let go of the Command key.
  • Drag the selected thumbnails to the sidebar of the other PDF, and release where you want them to go. (If you have macOS Sierra or earlier, drag the thumbnails directly into a thumbnail in the other PDF.) 

You can rotate, delete and reorder pages from the thumbnail section, too.

Now that you've mastered combining all of your PDFs, make sure to check out other hidden Mac tips and secret Windows 10 tips, and how to download Windows 10 and Microsoft Office apps for free.