How to fuse pdf documents – Nifty quilt-along trick!

NWF How to fuse pdf documents 2014-12-01

The “Spell it with fabric” blog hop quilt-along by Moda produced a whopping 51 pdf documents to keep track of and it was neither the first nor last pattern spread out over several batches, so here’s a screenshot-heavy tutorial how to fuse them all into a single document in Preview on Mac.

Before we start, in case you’re wondering, I use both Adobe Acrobat Reader and Preview in general, but this fusing function is available only in a paid version of Acrobat, so Preview it is this time! For Windows, there are some inexpensive alternatives to Adobe, but some of them are from questionable sources and since Windows and I aren’t the best of friends, I don’t dare recommend any software. Google some discussion forums or such to see user reviews, if you’re a Windows user.

Start by choosing the two first pdfs to fuse; in Finder, hold down cmd and click on them with the mouse so they get highlighted in blue (I use OSX 10.6.8 so this might look different in other versions). Double click to open in Preview (alternatively right-click to choose this software):

NWF Preview tutorial 1

The file names look odd with the z letters, but I added those to sort how-to etc. down at the bottom of the long list. You’ll see in a bit how the name changes.

As for the screenshot, I use Grab found in Utilities and for some reason when you take screenshots, it’s Grab that is “active”; hence the “inactive” look in Preview.

Since I want the quilt overview first, I grab the “zzzquilt…” file with the mouse and drag it to the top. This is a habit and I encourage you to stick to a consensus; either keep the growing document up on top at all times or down at the bottom the same way. When you’re dealing with multiples of documents, it is easy to lose track a bit. So, once I’ve done the dragging and dropping, this is how it looks:

NWF Preview tutorial 2

Now it’s time for magic! Grab the “zhow…” pdf, drag it and hover on top of “zzzquilt…” until you see a plus sign, then drop “zhow…” onto “zzzquilt…”. You’ll see the uppermost pdf to look like a bound book:

NWF Preview tutorial 3

Hover the mouse above the book to see an arrow, click on it and open the book:

NWF Preview tutorial 4

The “zhow…” pdf has successfully been added to the end of the “zzzquilt…” pdf! To save this change made to the “zzzquilt…” pdf, you can either close the book first (via the arrow) or just click on the uppermost page, then on the keyboard hit cmd+S.

Close the pdfs for now by hitting cmd+W (cmd+Q would close the whole software but that’s unnecessary). I highly recommend learning keyboard shortcuts, as they are so much quicker as well as a much more ergonomic way to work. If you open the drop-down menus on top via File, Edit and so on, you will see the cmd symbol (like a museum sign on maps) and the corresponding letter to hit on the keyboard; this is how I’ve learned them, too.

At this point I change the name of the growing pdf to “Moda – Spell it with fabric”. In Finder, highlight the “zzzquilt…” file and hit enter on the keyboard; you’ll be able to change the name by deleting all of it in one go (delete key) and typing a new name, or if parts of it are okay, just go with the mouse to where you want to start editing. Once the name is how you want it, hit enter again. Done! (If you changed a name by mistake, hit cmd+Z to undo.)

In Finder, highlight the “Moda” pdf as well as the three first pdfs of the alphabet. Double click to open them. This is where there’s a weird glitch going on at least in my version of Preview; some but not all chosen pdfs open in the same window. To remedy that, I hit cmd+W twice to close both windows, then double click again on the highlighted pdfs in Finder. Now I see both “Moda” and the A, B, and C pdfs in the side drawer of Preview.

We are ready to continue fusing pdfs. (I don’t know how to take videos of my screen, so instead you’ll have to see these awful photos of the screen, very sorry about that.)

If you try to drag A to the closed “Moda” book, nothing will happen. Open “Moda” first to see both its pages, then drag A and drop into the book (you can see the shadow of A whilst I’m hovering it in the air before dropping):

NWF Preview tutorial 5

Notice the blue bar in the photo. When you’re not just moving around the A pdf, but are actually dropping it into the book, you’ll see a box appear:

NWF Preview tutorial 6

Yup, this means you can move the pdf pages around however you see fit; another nifty trick! Since you fused the letter A to “Moda”, do the same with “B”:

NWF Preview tutorial 7

The letter “C” is next and then it looks like this:

NWF Preview tutorial 8

Don’t worry about the weird page numbering, it will sort itself properly once you’ve saved “Moda”, close it and open again.

Save “Moda” (cmd+S) and close it (cmd+W). If you’re curious like I am, you check that all the pages are indeed fused, before deleting any files.

Keep adding all the letters like we’ve done with A, B, and C here.

* * * EDIT STARTS * * *

After I had finished this tutorial, I concluded there happened a brain fart. Sorry, guys, you don’t have to add each letter individually, but if you open say five at once, you can select all those and drag the batch onto “Moda”. I actually learned this myself just now, so lots of good stuff came out of writing this tutorial. Carry on :)

* * * EDIT ENDS * * *

Remember the possible glitch of not all pdfs appearing in the same window, so close and re-open if necessary. And double check just like measuring twice, cutting once, before deleting any pdfs. Once you’re done with Z and ready to add the number pdf, you can calculate to 26 letters + 2 first how-to pages, if you’re sticking to my order:

NWF Preview tutorial 9

That odd page number thingy earlier with lots of pages 1 after one another? Well, that’s because the fused pdfs contained only one page each. The number pdf contains 10 individual pages and hence it will look different once added after the Z page:

NWF Preview tutorial 10

Now “Moda” should consist of 38 pages and then the punctuations brings you up on 50. The last pdf left to fuse is the page containing the 8” blocks:

NWF Preview tutorial 11

The final page count is 51 and you’re done! See that page count appear also up on top next to the file name? That’s another place where you can double check the total number of pages without scrolling all the way down to page 51 in the “Moda” book itself. Save and close your nice new pdf e-book!

NWF Preview tutorial 12

You can obviously do this to any pdfs, not just those related to quilting (haha, I’m so funny), but if there are image files involved such as jpg, you’ll need to tweak the process a bit. I’ll post a tutorial at some point and will include ideas for how you can organise your computer better.

As always, please post comments and questions, if there’s something I didn’t think to include or just wrote in a foggy way. Hope you can use this to locate your patterns quicker!

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