Today a consulting client had an issue that we’ve all done: He scanned a stack of paper intending to make it one PDF per sheet, but instead it went into one big PDF.
Since he didn’t want to re-scan, I broke down a few options for how to split a PDF using the built-in tools of Mac OSX. You can think of this as a companion piece to How To Combine PDFs Using Mac OSX Automator.
Option 1: Use Preview To Split Pages
Preview.app (the application you use to view PDFs and images) has some document management tools under the hood.
To split a file into pages using Preview:
- Open the file in Preview
- If you don’t see a list of pages on the right-hand side, click the Sidebar button near the search bar to open it
- Click and drag each page to your desktop or to a Finder window. It will then copy that page to its own PDF
Option 2: Use Automator To Split Pages
Much like combining PDF files to make one big one, you can split a PDF into separate pages using Automator.
There are a number of ways to do this of course, but in this example I will be making a Droplet. If you want to skip all this setup, I have attached my Droplet to the end of this post. It will hopefully work for you.
Ready? Here we go.
- In Finder, go to Applications and then start Automator, the cool little robot icon
- In the window that pops up, highlight Application and then hit Choose
Set Up The PDF Action
- In the Library section on the left, you’ll see a line for PDF. Choose that
- In the next column over, there is an option for PDF To Images. Click that and drag it into the the section on the right
- Choose where you want the PDF to be saved to by default
- Choose if you want the new PDFs to have the same name as the original, or if you want to change it.
- Choose if you want it to replace the original file
- I want the ability to change it on the fly if needed, so I hit Options and then check Show this action when the workflow runs.
Here is what this step looks like:
Nice work! Now you have your Automator action created. Go to File > Save As and save it either to your Desktop, your Applications folder, or anywhere else you desire.
Using The Droplet
You have just created a Droplet. This means that if you drag a PDF onto the icon, it will automatically run those actions you just created.
When you do this, if everything works well, a popup will come up asking where you want to save the PDFs and if you want to change the name. Choose and hit Continue.
Downloading The Droplet
As mentioned, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of setting this all up, you are welcome to use mine.
To use it, download the file to your computer, double-click it to Unzip it, and move the resulting “DSSplitPDF” file somewhere.
Once you’ve done that, follow the “Using The Droplet” instructions above.
I am sure you all have more tips to split PDFs, either on Mac or Windows. School us in the comments!
(Photo by recursion_see_recursion)