PDF merge in preview

After I began using PDFCompress for minimizing PDF files, the only reason I have had for using the full Adobe Acrobat has been to combine PDFs. Now I realize that since OS 10.5 this functionality has been built into Preview. I guess I should really start reading the release notes of OSes and applications a bit more carefully, since I managed to get to 10.6 before I found out about this feature.

Anyways, it is super easy to combine files: Just open in Preview and drag the icon(s) from one file on top of the icon in another (see demonstration).

Looking around for this solution I also discovered the free iCombiner application, which may be even easier to work with, and especially when having many PDF files that I want to combine (e.g. lots of chapters in a book).

So now I don’t really see any good reasons for upgrading my old Acrobat to a newer version any longer.

The challenge of creating booklets

I have been trying to create a booklet out of a standing A4 paper (the booklet size should be 105 x 297 mm), but this has proven to be much more difficult than I would have originally thought. It is a while since I have been doing things like this, and I still remember how easy it was to do such things back in the days when I used to use MS Publisher 1.0 for everything (that must have been the best MS program ever!). I also recall that creating brochures with PageMaker was a simple thing.

Now, in 2008, things are not so easy anymore… I bought the full Adobe package earlier this year, so I have InDesign installed on my computer. Back in the days when I used PageMaker on a daily basis, I found it easy to get around, but I never really understood (or tried to understand) the logic of InDesign. Also, after working with applications like OmniGraffle and Pages for some time, I don’t really think the Adobe-style user interface is that intuitive anymore. So I set out to create my booklet in Pages.

Unfortunately, it turned out that it is not possible to create a booklet in Pages. Looking around the web, I found this small application called CocoaBooklet which will spit out a booklet file from an input PDF file. However, this only works for correctly A-shaped paper sizes. It promises that you could specify the size of the page yourself, but I think I tried every possible combination without succeeding in outputting a brochure in my desired format. It would always try to stretch it to fit to a regular A4-paper. Same thing with the CreateBooklet automator plugin, and the online utility Bookletcreator. They all assume that you work with a regular A4 page for the input.

The solution: I ended up doing the project in InDesign after all… I am sure it is a very powerful program, but the user interface is some of the most unintuitive I have been working with for several years. The good thing is that the booklet creation is fairly easy, except that it outputs a PS file instead of PDF. Oh, well, I can live with that as long as my brochure comes out in the correct format.

Ah, back to doing something meaningful again…