PDFsam Full Review and Alternatives





PDFsam is a free and open-source PDF tool that helps to split, merge, rotate, extract pages, and mix PDF files. It revolves around the idea of simplicity and still delivers exemplary results when called to action.

At a time when privacy has become a top factor, PDFsam has got you covered here by letting you work fully offline with all your PDF files staying confidential on your PC. This wonderful software comes in 3 versions; PDFsam Basic, Enhanced, and Visual, with each tool specializing in specific features.

In this review article, we will focus on the PDFsam Basic edition that is an avid PDF merging and splitting tool. You will get to know the perks coming with this software coupled with the benefits. As a quick summary, here are the pros and cons;

Pros & Cons of PDFsam

  • Free and open-source
  • Available on Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • Supports batch processing
  • Supports partial processing
  • Allows you to extract specific information
  • Delivers high-quality results
  • Requires java to run
  • No PDF editing or conversion options in basic version

How to Use PDFSam

Key Features in PDFsam

PDFsam boasts some powerful and much-coveted features that you will not find in most of the PDF converter software. Without further ado, let us find out exactly what features to expect.

Combine/Merge PDFs


In the instance you have multiple PDFs that are related or have similar content, joining or concatenating them is highly advised. By doing this, you will enjoy the convenience of having all content in a single, easy-to-manage PDF file.

PDFsam provides all the necessary features that are geared towards a fulfilling process. To be specific, you can merge multiple PDF documents or their subsections depending on the goal at hand. Some of the options here include;

  • Adding a footer that indicates the source PDF file for each page.
  • Automatically adding a blank page in the instance of an odd number of pages.
  • Normalizing the page sizes to match the first page.
  • For interactive forms, you can choose to merge fields, renaming existing fields during merge, flatten, or discard fields entirely.
  • In regards to bookmarks, you can opt to retain, discard, create entries for each merged PDF file, or retain them as one entry for each merged document.
  • Regarding the table of contents, you get the option to not generate one at all, generate from filenames, or document titles.
  • You can also apply alternate mixing whereby two or more PDFs are merged taking pages alternative in reverse or natural order.
  • Rotate the merged PDF pages accordingly to match pre-existing pages.
  • Specifying whether to compress the output and specify a target output PDF version.
  • Reorder the pages or entire files.

Split PDFs


Besides merging PDF files, PDFsam also lets you split PDFs to extract specific content instead of unnecessarily handling an entire file. Just like the merge process, there are various ways to split PDFs. For instance, you can split;

  • After every page, even pages, or odd pages.
  • After specific page numbers.
  • After a specified number of pages.
  • By bookmark levels.
  • By file size (MB or KB).

Again here, you can also decide to compress the output or even specify the output PDF version to ship with. Not forgetting that one can also do away with any bookmarks in the original PDF when the need comes knocking.

Version Comparison

Here are the 3 versions of PDF tools delivered by PDFSam.

1). PDFSam Basic


This is a free and open source desktop program available on Linux, Mac OS, and Windows that just as the name suggests, delivers some of the basic PDF features. When you get started with PDFSam Basic, here is a list of the actions you can undertake on your PDF files;

  • Merge – This PDF tool will help you combine PDFs, selected pages, interactive forms, and even bookmarks into a single entity without much hassle. At the same time, you can deal with Acroforms easily and also add a table of contents to your merged PDF.
  • Split – With this feature, you get to subdivide a PDF in terms of pages, bookmark levels, and even at certain file sizes.
  • Extract from PDFs – For instance, instead of converting the whole PDF file, you can extract just the specific pages or page ranges and save them in an all-new PDF file with just what you need.
  • Rotate – This comes in handy to correct the orientation of your PDF documents and can be applied to every page or partially to the specific ones you need. You can apply a rotation of 90, 180, or 270 degrees depending on your needs.
  • Mix – This is a special PDF merge tool from PDFSam Basic that is best-suited for single-sided scanners. It works its magic to merge PDFs by taking pages from each PDF file alternatively.

2). PDFSam Enhanced


This is another version of PDFSam that brings both professionalism and customizability to your PDF experience. Before everything else, it is an avid PDF reader/viewer and creator that supports over 300 file formats. Here is a breakdown of the features that PDFSam Enhanced boasts of;

  • Edit – Basically, you can adjust the PDF content without the need to export or convert the PDF file to another editable format all powerfully and professionally.
  • Convert – This functionality lets you convert to and from the PDF format with support for multiple file-formats including those from Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, just to mention a few.
  • Built-in OCR – An Optical Character Recognition tool baked into PDFSam Enhanced helps you extract text data from images like SVG or even scanned PDF files.
  • Create fillable forms – Whether you are working from scratch or using an existing form, you get to export and import data among other adjustments before further actions like sharing.
  • Review – In the instance you are collaborating on a PDF file, this software brings you some nifty tools like adding notes, highlighting, and drawing capabilities.
  • Insert – You get to add various components into PDFs including pages, hyperlinks, and page numbers.
  • Secure – If you are hoping to restrict access to your files, this is the PDF tool to rock as it lets you encrypt PDF documents with passwords besides setting permission levels and signing.

3). PDFSam Visual


When it comes to manipulating PDF files visually, PDFSam is just the perfect and right candidate for that. Coming with a free trial period of 14 days, you have the chance to evaluate its features on Mac OS, Windows, and Linux platforms before you can decide whether to obtain the paid version. In terms of features, here is a list of what to expect with PDFSam Visual on top of what PDFSam Basic offers.

  • Merge and Rearrange – Here, you can change the order of pages and on top of that get to combine multiple PDF documents via a simple drag-and-drop-option.
  • Delete – Nothing much here except that you this tool lets delete any pages that you do not need in the PDF file.
  • Compress – This feature will come in handy to reduce the size of your PDF file without compromising the quality.
  • Convert images – For images like those of the SVG format, it is easy to convert them into PDF with this tool.
  • Split – You get to do this in various ways like page-wise, bookmark level, or size-wise. At the same time, you can choose to split at the point where text changes.
  • Encrypt and decrypt – This is generally for security purposes so you can password-protect PDFs and also be able to unprotect them easily if you obtain them in protected mode.
  • Crop – Here, you simply select the area you want to keep and this tool will handle the rest for you.
  • Extract – With this PDFSam Visual feature, extracting pages from a PDF file is just like a knife through butter.
  • Convert to text or grayscale – Conveniently convert images from a PDF file into grayscale and also have a chance to extract text from PDFs with the help of the OCR feature.


PDFsam presents the following licensing plans;




PDFsam Basic



PDFsam Enhanced





Pro + OCR Advanced


PDFsam Visual

Free Trial (14 days)







PDFsam is quite the force to reckon with when it boils down to merging and splitting options. The fact that you can tinker with how you want the split or merge process to be done brings a sense of great control over the output. Coupling that with the free, open-source nature of this program results in a go-to masterpiece. Grab PDFsam and make the most out of every split or merge task.

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