OS X includes a great tool called Automator that makes it really easy to take the sting out of repetitive tasks. When I don’t forget it’s there waiting to help me, I put it to work so I don’t have to, which is what I did when I ran into the problem of how to take multiple PDFs and turn them into a single file.
I realize you can open a PDF, drag another PDF into the Preview window, and combine in that fashion, but in my experience, there’ve been issues with cross-platform compatibility when using this method. I turned to Automator, and within a few minutes, had a pretty simple and effective way to solve the problem.
- I decided to create a Service rather than a standalone application or workflow, so it would be accessible from anywhere I may end up in the Finder, at any time.
- Since PDFs were my focus, I set the service to target them while browsing from the Finder. You can obviously play around with these settings to do different things, depending on your needs.
- The first action to drag into the editor is the heavy lifter here, and is very clearly named: “Combine PDF Pages.” I’d prefer they append to one another rather than shuffle them together.
- At this point, I thought I was done, but when I would run the Service against a couple of PDF files, I had no idea where the resulting file ended up. For some reason, it wasn’t in the clipboard, but rather, was in some non-accessible directory of OS X. So added the “Move Finder Items” command into the editor, and the result was just what I wanted.
- Finally, select the files in the Finder, right click, and choose your newly-created Service from the Services submenu. The resulting PDF shows up as some gibberish file name, right on the desktop.
Automator is a flexible tool, and can be made to do so many of the random tasks that we find need for on a daily basis. Hopefully, this simple solution will kickstart the process of creating your own custom workflows, as well.
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