Playing Some PDF Tricks

24 May, 2021

For the longest time, my favourite tool for manipulating PDF files was pdftk. It’s billed as a simple tool for doing everyday things with PDF documents and, believe me, pdftk lives up to that billing.

While I don’t use it any longer, I still think pdftk is a great tool and that it can be very useful. But it’s a bit too much for my needs at the moment.

So what do I use when I need to fiddle with PDF files? The tool that I turn to most often is PDF Tricks. While limited in what it does, PDF Tricks does that very well. Let’s take a look at it.

Getting the Software

PDF Tricks is written for elementary OS. The easiest way to get it is through elementary’s AppCenter. If you’re not running elementary OS and want to try PDF Tricks, you can also install it via Flatpak.

Just so you know: PDF Tricks is a pay-what-you-want app in the elementary OS AppCenter. You’re not obliged to pay the full amount the developer is asking for, or pay anything for that matter. However, any money that changes hands goes to support the development of PDF Tricks.

Using PDF Tricks

So you’ve installed PDF Tricks. Now what? Start off by firing it up.

PDF Tricks after you start it

As I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, PDF Tricks has a limited number of functions. You can:

I rarely, if ever use the compress or convert functions. The other two are my staple uses of PDF Tricks. Here’s how you use them:

Splitting a PDF File

To do that, click the Split PDF option.

Splitting a PDF file using PDF Tricks

Select the file to break up. Then, choose whether to Extract all pages or Select a range of pages. If you choose the latter, you can enter the specific page or range of pages to pull out of the file.

Setting a range of pages to extract in PDF Tricks

Then, click Split. Choose the folder into which to save the merged file, and click Save.

Merging PDF Files

Do that by clicking Merge PDF.

Merging PDF files with PDF Tricks

Click Add File and select a file. If the files that you’re merging are in the same folder, you can select all of them or press CTRL while clicking on files to select them.

Getting ready to merge PDFs using PDF Tricks

Then, click Merge. Choose the folder into which to save the merged file, give it a name, and click Save.

Final Thoughts

Yes, PDF Tricks can only do a few tricks. No, that doesn’t make it useless. PDF Tricks is a very focused application. It does four jobs and does them well. Which, in my opinion, is what a good utility does.

Scott Nesbitt