Feature rich free PDF tools and/or editors are hard to come by. PDF is one of the most common formats for viewing image rich documents on a slew of devices and that leaves you with little choice except to pay up for a halfway decent PDF tool or use several free alternative apps instead of a single one. PDF Toolkit is a PDF editing app for Mac that normally costs $4.99 but is free this month (makes you love Summer, doesn’t it?). PDF Toolkit isn’t for editing a PDF file i.e., you cannot add or remove text and images from a file. What you can do is merge multiple PDFs into a single file. Unlike free tools that only let you merge 2 files into one, PDF Toolkit gives you the freedom to merge as many files as you want. It can extract pages from a file, either in order or as per user specifications and create a new PDF from the extracted pages. Additionally, you can extract text and images from a file and compress it on four different standards to reduce the size. Note that this compression does not mean adding it to a zipped file, compression with PDF Toolkit is different and discussed in detail below.
How It Works
The interface is simple and clean. No fancy unnecessary buttons or complicated sliders. The functions are divided across four tabs; Concatenate, Split/ extract page, Text/ image, and Compress. Each tab, in turn, is divided into two parts. The left side is the drag & drop area for adding, and in some cases previewing, the file(s) you want to change. The right side for each tab will have options for the respective tab’s functions.
Breaking the app’s functionality down by tabs, the Concatenate tab lets you merge multiple PDF files into one. To add files, drag & drop them on to the left panel. There are no Upload or Add File button options for adding files via the Open File window and drag & drop is the only way to do it. Two buttons at the bottom allow you to organize the files in alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order. The app does not reorder them automatically but once you use either of these buttons, you cannot undo the ordering. When you’ve arranged the files (they can be dragged one over the other to re-order) hit the Concatenate button (cats are not required for concatenation).
The Split/ extract pages tab, as the name implies, allows you to extract any page from a large PDF document and save it separately as a PDF file. There are three different ways of extracting pages. You can split a document into several smaller documents. This is in the event that you have a long PDF file with several chapters (and each chapter is of equal length). Use the Split Document option to specify how many pages should be in each file and click Split.
PDF Toolkit lets you selectively remove pages from a file too which is useful in the event you want to remove annexures or any extra information from a file before sharing it. The original file is left untouched and a new one is created with the pages removed. Pages are identified by their number, can be written in range or randomly and are separated by commas i.e., 2, 4, 6-10 etc.
The Remove pages option allows you remove pages from a PDF file and as far as end results are concerned, it is exactly the same as the previously discussed option. A new file is created and the original remains unchanged.
From the Text/ Images tab, you can extract text and images from a PDF file. Text is extracted to TXT format and as per our tests, the results were very accurate. Add a PDF file and click Extract under Extract text to export text from the PDF to a TXT file.
The image extraction feature in PDF Toolkit gives you the option of saving the images either in PDF format or PNG, TIFF, JPEG format and choosing different resolution sizes for it. The available sizes are 600dpi, 300dpi, 200dpi, 150dpi and 72dpi. To extract to an image format, select the output format under Save as images and chose the resolution from the two dropdown menus. Click Convert.
Last, but not least, comes the Compress tab which, as mentioned before, has nothing to do with compressing files to Zip or RAR formats. PDF Toolkit compresses the file by removing some data from it. There are four different options available that allow you to choose what kind of data you are ready to part with for the sake of having a smaller file. Lossless compression lets you remove metadata from a file and convert colors to RGB, Medium quality reduces the resolution of all images to 150dpi, Low quality reduces image resolution to 72dpi and Minimal size reduces the color to grayscale. When you add a file, PDF Toolkit gives an almost accurate estimate of what the size of the output file will be for each compression standard. Once you’ve picked the compression method, click Compress, enter a file name and save it. The original file remains unchanged.
In all honesty, merging, splitting PDFs or extracting text isn’t something that would warrant PDF Toolkit to be called ‘feature rich’ but what really makes the app extraordinary is;
- Merging more than 2 files into a single file
- Extracting images to different formats and resolutions
- PDF compression
Even if priced at $4.99, this app is well worth it. Since it’s free for this month, it makes it all the more worth the download.