How To Combine PDF Files On Microsoft Windows For Free

How To Combine PDF Files On Microsoft Windows For Free

Recently I wrote about how to combine PDF files using Mac OSX, so today I’d like to give Windows the same treatment.

Of course, there are a huge number of applications out there that will do this, and if I had any brains I’d point you to some expensive one that would get me a referral fee.

However I never claimed to be smart, so like the Mac tutorial, I am going to point you to some free and open source ways to do this.

In the Mac tutorial, I limited myself to exclusively using functionality that was part of the operating system. I couldn’t find the equivalent in Windows, so if I have missed something obvious please let me know in the comments.

With all that said, let’s check out two free and open source ways to combine PDFs in Microsoft Windows: PDF Split and Merge and pdftk.

PDF Split and Merge

PDF Split and Merge (aka PDFsam) is a Java application that comes in two versions: basic (free) and enhanced (requires forum membership and a donation of at least 1 Euro).

As the name implies, the application can do a number of PDF manipulation functions including splitting and (wait for it) merging. We’re going to focus on the merging part.

I don’t know what it is with open source software, but 9 times out of 10 the terminology/workflow that they use isn’t intuitive at all to a civilian.

To start with, you need to chose a Plugin. So, we’re going to choose the Merge/Extract plugin.

Merge and Extract PDF

Then we’ll click the Add button and add the files that we want to combine (click the image to make it bigger). You then have a chance to change the order if you’d like.

Add PDFs

Once you have your files how you want them, go down to the bottom of the screen and either type or hit Browse to select your destination file/folder.

When you are ready to roll, hit the Run button. When it finishes, you will have the combined PDF file.


If working in the command line is more your style, pdftk is definitely for you. I love their description of it:

If PDF is electronic paper, then pdftk is an electronic staple-remover, hole-punch, binder, secret-decoder-ring, and X-Ray-glasses. Pdftk is a simple tool for doing everyday things with PDF documents.

pdftk can do a whole assortment of PDF tools, but again we’ll be focusing on merging documents.

It’s pretty simple. Download pdftk, unzip the .exe file somewhere, go to the directory where your documents are, and issue a command similar to this:

pdftk Scan.pdf Scan1.pdf cat output Combinedpdftk.pdf

Here’s a screenshot of it in action:

Et voila, here is the output:

I could have also just thrown everything together into one PDF:

pdftk *.pdf cat output Combinedpdftk.pdf

As you can see, pdftk is a pretty powerful little application that [can do a lot more than what I have described here][6]. I’ll be writing more on it in the future.

So, these have been two free ways to combine PDFs on Windows. Do you have another method that you like? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

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