How to merge PDF files

Ever had a PDF document that needed just a little something extra or maybe a more extensive refresh after some time had passed?   

You could copy the text; paste it into a word processor, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs; add the content you want; and save it as a new PDF document. Or, to make things a little easier, you could open the original word processor file for the current PDF, add the content you want, and save the document as a new PDF.  

But either option is time-consuming and could make things confusing later, with similar content existing in more than one PDF.

Here’s the good news: There’s an easier way to get things done.

Rather than working backward and creating more work for yourself, a number of software programs have come up with a very simple solution: merging two PDF files to create a cohesive document.  

Regardless of whether you prefer to use Adobe DC, free online software tools, or Google Chrome extensions, this guide will walk you through many of the available options to merge your PDF documents.  

TIP: Want to delete pages from your PDF or split the pages to share your documents with other people more seamlessly? We cover it all in our comprehensive PDF guide — just follow the links to your desired task.    

How to merge files in Adobe DC

As the pioneering company that gave birth to the PDF, Adobe has made a number of strides to improve its product and introduce new features over the years.

It may come as no surprise, then, that Adobe DC allows you to combine, or merge, documents in just a few easy steps.

Still, like other document-editing functions offered by Adobe, you must have an Adobe Acrobat DC or Adobe Acrobat Pro DC subscription to merge PDF files.

If you already have an Adobe Acrobat subscription, the official steps outlined below are easy and require just a few mouse clicks. Once your documents are merged, Adobe Acrobat allows you to not only download your new file but also generate a link to it or share your document in an email.

  • Get started by opening “PDF Services” in your Adobe account menu.

Merge PDF, select PDF template

  • Select the files you want to merge by going to the “Combine Files” tab in the Adobe PDF Services toolbar and clicking on the “Select Files to Combine” button.

Combine files, Adobe

  • On the next page, you can select documents stored in Adobe DC by clicking on the “Document Cloud” tab in “Select Files.” If you prefer to upload photos from your computer, select the “My Computer” tab and click the “Choose Files from My Computer” button.

Choose files to be combined

  • Once your files have been uploaded, type a new document name for your file in the “Enter combined PDF file name” text box. Click the “Combine” button in the toolbar to merge your documents.

Combine the files to be merged, Adobe

  • In the popup window that appears, click the “Download” button to save a copy of your newly merged PDF file to your computer.

Click download button, Adobe

  • You also may access your new document at the bottom of the “Combined Files” web page. Hover your cursor over the thumbnail of your combined document, and two icons will appear: one on the left to download your document, and one on the right to either create a shareable link to your document or send a copy of your document in an email.

Download or send the file, Adobe

Merging files with free online tools

Not everyone has an Adobe subscription, and some people would rather not get one just to complete a single PDF-editing task.

Fair enough.

Thankfully, you don’t have to look far for an alternative to Adobe for merging PDF documents. A quick search for “merging PDFs,” or “merging PDF files” on most internet search engines, such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo, will yield a wealth of resources on the first search results page alone.

To make your life a little easier, we’ve created a short list of free, online software tools that can help you merge your PDF files — no strings attached.

Smallpdf

We’ve mentioned this handy software tool before for its ability to remove owner passwords from PDFs, convert JPG files to PDFs, and convert PDFs to Microsoft Word documents (and vice versa).

But can you blame us?

As you may have guessed already, Smallpdf can combine and merge PDF documents to create a single document.

Smallpdf provides a comprehensive menu of PDF-editing options that are sometimes integrated into a single process. As an example, the software tool allows you to rearrange or delete single pages while you’re merging PDF documents.

It’s important to note that all uploaded files, as well as the edited versions generated by Smallpdf, are deleted permanently within an hour. That’s why it is imperative to immediately save the edited files that you want.   

  • Use Smallpdf’s drag-and-drop feature to select a file from your desktop and place it in the rectangular “Drop PDF(s) here” box on the main page. You also may select files to upload manually from your computer using the “Choose file” link in the “Drop PDF(s) here” box. TIP: In the bottom right-hand corner of the box, you can click on the icons to upload PDF files from your Google Drive or Dropbox accounts.   

Choose file to be merged, SmallPDF

  • Your uploaded PDF documents will be displayed in a new box. In “File mode,” each file will appear as a thumbnail. Upload additional documents to merge by using the “Add more PDFs” icon on the bottom left-hand side of the box.

Add more files, SmallPDF

  • TIP: Change the display options of the box — from “File mode” to “Page mode” — to show individual pages in your uploaded documents.

Select page mode, SmallPDF

  • TIP: Using the “Page mode” display option, you can rearrange the order of the document by clicking on a page and dragging it to another spot. You also may delete pages by clicking on the “x” icon in the top right-hand corner of each document page thumbnail.

Drag and drop, SmallPDF

    • Once you’ve made all of your changes, click on the “Merge PDF!” button in the bottom right-hand corner of the box.
  • In the next window that appears, download your newly merged document using the options at the bottom of the box. In addition to saving a copy of the new PDF to your computer, you can click the other icons to create a link to your file and send it to someone in an email, download the file to your Dropbox account, or download the file to your Google Drive account.   

Files are merged, SmallPDF

ILovePDF

As its name suggests, ILovePDF is a one-stop shop dedicated to almost anything related to editing and modifying PDFs.

It’s no wonder we’ve highlighted this software tool in the past for extracting images from PDFs, converting JPG files to PDFs, and removing owner passwords from PDFs.  

ILovePDF — much like Smallpdf — allows you to conduct several document-editing functions in a single process. In this particular case, you can rotate the pages in your document before you merge the files.    

  • Get started by either clicking the “Select PDF files” button to upload PDF documents manually from your computer, or simply dragging the files that you want to upload from your desktop and dropping them onto the ILovePDF web page. You also may upload documents from your Google Drive and Dropbox accounts by clicking the respective icons next to the “Select PDF files” button.

Select files to be merged, ILovePDF

  • Thumbnails of your document will appear in the middle of the ILovePDF web page.

Thumbnails appear, ILovePDF

  • TIP: Hover your cursor over the thumbnails of your uploaded documents, and two icons will appear in the top right-hand side of each image. Use the icons to rotate or delete the file from your document-merging queue.

Start merging, ILovePDF

  • Once you’ve uploaded your documents and made all of your changes, click the “Merge PDF” button at the very bottom of the web page.

Merge files, ILovePDF

  • Your new document should download immediately once the merging process is complete. If your document does not download automatically, click on the “Download merged PDF” button. You also may click on the icons next to the button to generate a shareable link to your document, download it to your Google Drive account, or download it to your Dropbox account.

PDF Merge

This particular tool is dedicated specifically to merging documents and is associated with another handy software program, called Soda PDF, which offers a wide array of editing, splitting, converting, and compressing services for PDF files.

Although a monthly or annual subscription is required for complete access to Soda PDF’s services, the document-merging process offered on PDF Merge is free — with a key caveat.

Merging documents larger than 10 megabytes in size will require a subscription.

Though this particular software tool doesn’t allow you to conduct several document-editing functions at the same time, it gets the job done and is easy to use.

  • Upload the PDF documents that you want to merge by clicking the “Choose File” button in the selection boxes on the PDF Merge homepage. TIP: Add additional files to merge by clicking the “More files” link below the selection boxes.

Choose file, PDF Merge

    • Once you’ve added all of the files that you’d like to merge, click the “Merge Files” button.
  • In the new window that appears, you will be given two different ways to download your document: Either click the “View & Download in Browser” button, or type your email address into the text box and click the “Send to Email” button to get a copy of your new PDF.

Download the merged file, PDF Merge

Combine PDF

This online tool allows you to combine up to 20 PDF or image files into a single document and rearrange the pages in the process.  

The software program offers a broad range of other services, such as converting PDF documents to .doc, .docx, .jpg, or .png files.

As an extra layer of security, all file data that is uploaded or created is deleted after an hour.

  • Select the documents that you want to combine by either clicking the “Upload Files” button, or dragging files from your desktop or folders and dropping them into the “Drop Your Files Here” box.

Upload files to be merged, Combine PDF

    • Once you’ve uploaded all of your files, click the “Combine” button.
  • Your newly merged document will download automatically to your computer and show up as “combinepdf.pdf.”

DocuPub

This simple online tool may not have all of the bells and whistles offered by its competitors, but it does make the document-merging process seamless and quick.

What is unique, however, is that uploaded documents can be in a variety of formats, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.   

DocuPub also has free tools to compress, resize and scale PDF files, as well as convert documents and images to other file types.

For this particular software program, individual files uploaded for the merging process should be no larger than 20 megabytes.   

  • To start, select the files that you want to upload by clicking on the “Choose File” button on the right-hand side of the homepage — continue to click the button to add more documents.

Choose file, DocuPub

  • Once you’ve uploaded all of your original files, click on the “Merge Files” button to begin the document-merging process. You’ll be redirected to a new web page once your documents have been merged.

Merge files, DocuPub

  • View your newly merged file by clicking on the “merged.pdf” link at the bottom of the web page. You also can download the file by using your mouse or trackpad to right click on the link and selecting “Save target as” from the list of options that appear.

Files merged, DocuPub

Merging files with Google Chrome extensions

If you use Google Chrome as your default web browser or use it often enough, there’s a good chance you’ll want to take advantage of the many extensions available in the Chrome Web Store.

In a nutshell, Google Chrome extensions are software programs that add new features to a user’s web browser and create a customized online experience based on a person’s needs or preferences.

These extensions are displayed as toolbar icons in the top right-hand corner of web pages in Google Chrome. TIP: You can hide these icons by right-clicking on individual ones with your mouse or trackpad and selecting “Hide in Chrome Menu” from the list of options that appears.   

We’ll highlight some of the top free extensions out there that can merge files quickly and seamlessly.  

TIP: If you want to uninstall or disable an extension, simply type “chrome://extensions/” into the address bar and either click the “Remove” button from individual extensions that you want to delete or move the slider next to each extension in the opposite direction to disable it.

Merge PDF

The Google Chrome extension for this software program provides a shortcut to this handy tool, which merges PDF files without damaging the original document or altering the formatting.

The software program, created by Zonepdf, stores all uploaded and merged documents for only a few hours before deleting the files. It is, therefore, important for you to download your file immediately after your documents are merged.   

You also must create a Zonepdf account if you want to upload and merge more than two files.

In this guide, we’ll walk through the steps of merging your file after the PDF Merge Files extension has been downloaded and installed on your Google Chrome browser.

    • Upload the files you want to merge by using your cursor to drag files from your computer and drop them into the “+ Click or Drag to choose PDF Files” box on the main web page. You also can click the “+ Click or Drag to choose PDF Files” box to select files that you want to upload from your desktop or file folders. TIP: Use the icons in the “+ Click or Drag to choose PDF Files” box to upload files from your Dropbox or Google Drive accounts, respectively.
  • Click the “+ Add More Files” button to add more documents after the first one has been uploaded. TIP: You can rearrange the order of the uploaded files by clicking on the thumbnail generated for each document and dragging it to a desired row on the table. The file order will determine the arrangement the merged document.

Add files, Merge PDF

  • Once all of your files have been uploaded, click the “Merge” button.

Merge files, Merge PDF

  • You’ll be redirected to a new web page where you can access your file by clicking the “Download” button.

Download the merged file, Merge PDF

PDF Merge Files

This particular software tool serves as an added feature to your browser and merges files from a small popup window that appears when you click on the PDF Merge Files extension.

Since the extension operates from the toolbar directly, there is no need to disrupt your web browsing experience and open a new web page to merge the documents.

Any uploaded files are saved to a remote system for merging and are deleted permanently a few minutes after the task is completed.

  • Start by clicking on the PDF Merge Files extension in the toolbar next to the address bar and click the “Select Files” box to upload documents from your computer. You may also drag files from your desktop or file folders and drop them into the “Select Files” box to upload them. TIP: Do not click anywhere outside of the popup window while you’re merging files, or you’ll have to start from the beginning.

Select files, PDF Merge Files

  • TIP: Remove a file from your uploaded files list by clicking the “x” icon next to the document name. You also may rearrange the order of the documents by clicking on the rectangular file-name boxes and dragging them to a desired spot — the first page of the merged file will start with the top document.

Add files, PDF Merge Files

    • Click on the “Merge” button once you’ve uploaded all of your files and made the necessary adjustments.
  • Your merged document will download automatically and can be found at the bottom of your web browser.

Soda PDF

Although one of Soda PDF’s products, PDF Merge, was highlighted earlier in this guide, it is worth mentioning that there is a Chrome extension for the program’s PDF-merging services.

In this case, installing the Soda PDF extension in your browser toolbar will give you direct access to the software program’s PDF-merging tool in a separate browser window.

The Chrome extension also gives you access to Soda PDF’s other services, such as splitting, compressing, and protecting PDF files, as well as converting documents to other file types.

  • Download the Chrome extension and access the Soda PDF website by clicking on the extension in your browser toolbar. Click on the “Click to open Services” button that appears below the Soda PDF icon.

Open the service, SodaPDF

    • You’ll be redirected to the Soda PDF website, where you can choose from a broad range of file-editing options. Click the “Merge PDF” button to get started.
  • In the popup window that appears, select the files you want to merge by clicking on the “Browse” button. The files that you upload will appear in the “Selected files” box. Remove files from the list by hovering your cursor over a document and clicking the “x” icon.

Add files to be merged, SodaPDF

    • Once you’ve uploaded all of your files, click the “Merge Files” button.
  • Download your newly merged files by clicking on the “Download and Open” button that appears in the popup window.

Download the merged file, SodaPDF

Have you integrated one of these tools into your workflow? Which one has worked the best for you? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Darin is a content writer at JotForm. He is passionate about disrupting perceptions, solving problems, and helping people be more productive with the easiest online form builder. Outside of the office, he is a rush-hour straphanger, adventure seeker, coffee drinker, and frequent traveler. You can contact Darin through his contact form.

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