I have a pdf document, and I want to print it as a booklet, i.e. two pages of the document on each side of a sheet of paper and so that (when printed) the entire thing can just be folded in the middle to create a small booklet.

How can I do this easily?


For a free and universal alternative you can use the pdfbook script, part of the pdfjam collection which is usually included in LaTeX distributions (notably MacTeX). It's simple to use from the command line:

pdfbook mypdf.pdf

If the above doesn't work, then /Library/TeX/texbin isn't in your PATH (or /usr/texbin for older versions of MacTeX). The best course of action is to ensure PATH is correctly set (lots of command line programs will fail if the PATH variable isn't correct and pdfbook is one of them); this isn't trivial under OS X if you want a consistent behavior between applications launched from the dock and applications run from a terminal so you definitely should search a complete solution to this specific problem. As dirty work-around, you can run export PATH="$PATH:/Library/TeX/texbin:/usr/texbin" every time before you use pdfbook (including in the service below).

If you don't want to use the command line, you can create a service easily.

  1. Launch Automator (on Yosemite it's in Applications/Others)
  2. Create a new document and select "Service".
  3. On top of the right frame, for "Service receives selected" choose "PDF files".
  4. Search "Run Shell Script" from the bar on the top of the left frame and double-click it. Select to "Pass input" as "arguments" in the newly created window.
  5. Enter a simple script running pdfbook, for instance pdfbook "$@".
  6. Save it as "Create booklet" (for instance).
  7. In Finder, select a PDF file, then in the menu go to Services/Create booklet.

My complete script also creates a temporary file and opens the resulting PDF:

TMPF=`mktemp -t bookletXXXX`
mv "$TMPF" "$TMPF.pdf"
pdfbook -o "$TMPF.pdf" "$@"
open "$TMPF.pdf"

The most obvious problem is the several GB download and installation of a LaTeX distribution if all you want is the pdfbook script.

| improve this answer | |
  • I just installed mactex and I don't seem to have pdfbook. Any other steps I need to take? – Chris Jun 11 '15 at 16:37
  • I've checked the TeX Live repository (which MacTeX uses), pdfbook is there so it definitely looks like a PATH problem. Sadly, you can't just use the full path of the script (which is /usr/texbin/pdfbook) because then it will fail to find its parent script pdfjam. I've updated my answer with an explanation of the problem and a dirty work-around, but you definitely should fix the PATH problem globally instead (I don't remember how I did it and couldn't find the SO question I used back then but it's there somewhere). – Blout Jun 16 '15 at 17:03
  • Simply brilliant! Works on (Ubuntu) Linux right out of the box. – Hummeling Engineering BV Dec 10 '18 at 11:58
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    To install mactex, you can use Homebrew: brew cask install mactex This includes a tool called pdfbook2 which seems to do the same as pdfbook in this answer (possibly with different arguments though). As above, you need to start a new shell to update your PATH variable. – Rob Jul 7 at 17:19
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    pdfbook has indeed been superseded by pdfbook2. Also, it’s neat that you can now use homebrew, back when I wrote the answer they would redirect you to the MacTeX website. @Rob, can you edit the answer with the correct paths and such? I no longer have access to a Mac to test it properly. – Blout Jul 13 at 17:42

You can use the Create Booklet utility1 which adds an option to “print”, from Preview or any other app, to generate a second pdf file with the pages arranged appropriately to print and bind as a booklet. When printing the resulting pdf booklet, remember to select “Two-Sided: Short-Edge binding” in the “Layout” options of the print dialog.

1. No longer free, $9.99 on the App Store as of 09/2015.

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  • I have used this tool with OSX 10.7.3 and it works fine - quite nice functionality in a low weight package. – user22285 May 1 '12 at 5:43
  • @Phrogz, thanks for letting me know. Indeed, I've updated the link to point to the developer's site. – Juan A. Navarro Dec 9 '13 at 23:25
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    It looks like the link needs another update: thekeptpromise.com/FreeApps/#CreateBooklet – Eric Darchis Jul 28 '14 at 22:22
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    The URL has changed again, it's now: thekeptpromise.com/CreateBooklet - also, they're charging for it these days. However, it was only $4.99 at time of commenting, which is worth the time it saved me :) – mnem Mar 17 '15 at 19:10

My solution is to install Macintosh version of Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, available from https://get.adobe.com/reader/, and use it to open the PDF file. When printing from Adobe Reader, there is several options in page sizing and handling :

  1. Poster
  2. Multiple
  3. Booklet

Choose Booklet and you're good to go.

Screenshot of Adobe Reader in OS X

See https://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/kb/print-booklets-acrobat-reader.html for more detail. The advantage of this solution that the same solution also works in the Windows world.

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"Booklet printing" is called imposition in the terminology of the professional printing business.

Cheap Impostor

is a utility for doing exactly what you want. It costs US $35, and has a free trial with some features disabled. It is affordable for casual use, but also good enough for professional imposition.

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Open the PDF in preview, go to the print dialog and you'll find some (hopefully) helpful settings — I say hopefully as I've not done exactly what you're after...

Click the little down arrow next to the printer name to expand the print dialog if its not already larger. In the bottom half of the dialog window, there's a drop-down menu where you can select a few relevant options:

  • In Layout (in the drop-down menu), Pages per Sheet (you can set this to 2 to have a left and right side on each page)
  • Also in Layout, Two-Sided (you can choose the paper edge over which the binding would occur — not sure how this works for folding in the middle though...
  • The drop-down also has a section called Booklet Printing, which has various options that will be of interest to you, mostly the first checkbox to enable booklet printing :)

Now I've not done it myself, and I don't know if it'll work for folding the pages in the middle (it looks like its intended for binding the pages along one edge) but that's probably the place to start looking.

If it doesn't work as is, then you may need to manually rearrange the pages (which you can do in Preview) to be in the right order so that simple double sided printing with short-edge binding puts the pages in the right places, though this may be quite difficult if there's a lot of pages...

Good luck...

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  • 2
    In the drop-down menu I see no option for “Booklet Printing”, is this perhaps an option from a specific printer? – Juan A. Navarro Nov 10 '10 at 11:06
  • oh, sorry, you're right :/ I didn't realise this was part of the HP driver for the printers here at work... you could still play around with the page order and 2 pages per sheet / double sided printing I guess... – drfrogsplat Nov 11 '10 at 0:39

You can use the free python script here. Just add it to your PDF Services folder in your user Library (create the folder if it doesn't exist). It will then appear in the PDF button of your print menu.

It's set for A3 sheets, but there are options to change the sheet size (and other things) in the script.

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There is a nice App in the AppStore called booklet for about $ 1.00: https://itunes.apple.com/ch/app/booklet/id1375737884?l=en&mt=12 It has a couple of options and does exactly what you want.

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This capability has been added to the native preview app within macOS Catalina - no need to download anything else.

In the print dialog, click "Show Details" (if you haven't already), then change the selector from "Preview" to "Layout". You should now see a setting for "Two-Sided" and you can select "Booklet". I also like to select a thin border to see that proper printed pages. Although the preview window doesn't actually show what will print, it does seem to print properly.


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  • That option will only be available for printers that offer duplexing and automatic booklet making. Booklets made by printer drivers may place each page inside the print area of the sheet, thus scaling the pages to be smaller than necessary. – benwiggy Oct 29 at 13:18

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