Sachin Patil

Sachin Patil

Free Software Developer | GNU Emacs Hacker

Published on Aug 26, 2012 by Sachin.

pdftk can be an excellent tool for manupilating PDFs if you know some handy commands

Note: I prefer Ghostscript(gs) over pdftk. Please refer this post to see gs commands examples.

Merge pages

Suppose I have some PDF pages like

1: front.pdf     toc.pdf
2: auth_colo.pdf part1.pdf
3: chap01.pdf    chap02.pdf
4: part2.pdf     chap03.pdf
5: chap04.pdf    chap05.pdf
6: part3.pdf     app_A.pdf
7: app_B.pdf     index.pdf

If I want to merge all the pdf’s into a single book(file), my command would be

pdftk front.pdf toc.pdf auth_colo.pdf part1.pdf chap01.pdf...index.pdf cat output my_full_book.pdf

this will create a pdf file in the same order specified. \.pdf* may also work if I don’t care about page ordering. Remember that my_full_book.pdf is output file name and cat output are output flags.

Removing a page

Suppose I want to remove page number 3 then my command would be

pdftk my_full_book.pdf cat 1-2 4-end output full_book_with_page2-removed.pdf

In the above example, I skipped page number(s) which I want to remove, in this case, page-3. The above command means, I want pages to be included from 1 to 2, I don’t want page number 3, so skip it, then start from page 4 till the end.

The syntax goes like this


Rotating pages

If I want to rotate the first page at 90 degrees right, then

pdftk my_full_book.pdf cat 1R 2-end output page1_turned_right.pdf

In the same way if I want to rotate all odd pages from range 1 to 25 to 180 degrees, then

pdftk my_full_book.pdf cat 1-25oddD 26-end output odd_pages_down_book.pdf

Extract specific page(s)

Exact page 4 & 5

pdftk lkn.pdf cat 4 5 output page4and5.pdf

Extract page 9

pdftk lkn.pdf cat 9 output page9.pdf

Split pages as individual file

pdftk page4and5.pdf burst

Output file will be pg_0001.pdf, pg_0002.pdf


For more info on pdftk, visit its manual pages by typing

man pdftk