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PDFsam (split and merge) is a free, open source PDF converter application that can run on any machine (Mac, Windows or Linux) and requires no installation – only that you have Java on your computer. In a world of heavy-duty PDF software, PDFsam is designed to be a hyper-focused and lightweight solution to manipulating documents in the quickest and easiest way possible.

PDFsam is most commonly known as a free and open source application, but it is available in an advanced, business-oriented version called PDFsam Enhanced. The standard and most popular version is now called PDFsam Basic.

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Free, open source – PDFsam Basic is a free open source PDF application and is distributed under the AGvL3 license. The fact that it’s open source might not be important to all users, but you can’t argue with the price point here – for a free tool, it’s actually quite powerful.

Runs on any operating system – PDFsam Basic is one of very few PDF converters that works on Windows, Mac and Linux machines. As long as you have Java, there’s no installation required – just download and start using it.

Powerful document manipulation tool – PDFsam really excels at splitting, merging and re-ordering documents, just as its name implies.

Visual document editing – PDFsam has a unique tool that allows you to split, merge, rotate, re-order and crop files visually.


Requires Java – this might not be an issue for most people, but it’s worth mentioning that PDFsam requires the Java framework to operate.

Occasional errors – the unique visual editing tool sometimes encounters errors during use.

No online functionality – all your files must be worked on locally with PDFsam, and it doesn’t connect to any cloud services. This might be a “pro” for some, but in general it does limit the software.

PDFsam Review

As its name suggests, PDFsam is really focused on merging and splitting documents, and it does so with ease. The software is very simple and intuitive to use, despite having its own distinctive look. The document manipulation functionalities are quite in-depth, and for those only looking to merge and split files quickly, this software is a winner.

Notable Features

When it comes to editing within and across documents, PDFsam is a powerful tool. The basic version allows you to merge documents, including selectively merging pages and information within the documents. You can rotate pages, merge bookmarks, and even merge interactive forms.

You can create new PDFs by splitting and merging files or selectively extracting pages from existing documents and combining them in a variety of ways. In short, PDFsam makes handling multiple documents an easy prospect – something that shouldn’t be underestimated given the limitations of some mainstream PDF solutions.

PDFsam Enhanced

To satisfy the demands of business users, PDFsam Enhanced comes with extra features mostly related to security and collaboration. It enables 256-bit AES encryption, digital signing and annotation tools. It also comes with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) functionality.

PDFsam Enhanced allows conversion from PDF into MS Office file formats, but also enables direct editing of PDF documents without having to convert them to other formats. This feature is quite handy, and avoids the common headache of endless document conversion. After all, even PDFsam Basic is designed to allow fast manipulation of multiple PDF documents with a minimum of hassle.

Note that the PDFsam Enhanced version is not free and only works with Windows machines. It is also offered in cost-effective professional packages, according to the website.

Final Verdict

PDFsam Basic is a limited tool, but it’s probably unbeatable at what it does for a free piece of software. The ability to manipulate PDFs to that level (mixing, re-ordering, extracting, etc.) is really powerful. Plus, it’s a very user-friendly application. The ability to do all this in a visual, thumbnail-based interface makes dealing with PDFs that much easier.

While its other functionalities might be limited, PDFsam Basic could easily find a place in the business environment when quick and easy methods are needed to put together a presentation. For more advanced users, PDFsam Enhanced is worth a try, especially since it comes with OCR and advanced security features.

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