I recently wrote an article about a Linux program called Couturier. That program had the ability to combine multiple PDF files into one, but that was pretty much as far as it went. I wrote that I wished it had the ability to also reorder pages from the pdf, but wasn’t sure how likely that feature would be. Color me pleased when I saw a link to a program called PDF Mod. What can PDF Mod do? A whole lot, including the feature I felt Couturier was missing.
PDF Mod is a fairly new program. It hasn’t been in the Ubuntu repositories before, but as of version 10.10, that all changed. I decided to take PDF Mod for a spin and I have to say, aside from a couple things, I really liked what it had to offer.
First, PDF Mod isn’t a basic, single-purpose utility. It isn’t “just” for combining multiple PDF files, and it isn’t “just” a utility to modify an existing PDF file. It can do both. To use it, simply open it up, then open a PDF file, or you can right-click a PDF file and choose PDF Mod from the “Open With” menu.
Once the PDF is opened, you have the following tools at your disposal:
1. View and edit the title, keywords, and other document info. This comes in handy if you want to “tag” the PDF with particular keywords, an author name and a subject (as well as a new title), which make it easier to find. Simply click the little gear icon in the toolbar, make your changes, then close the dialog.
2. Save all images in a document to a new folder. If your PDF is heavy on images, you might find that you want some of them saved to your hard drive. You can’t really select a particular image to save, but PDF Mod will save all of them for you, so you can pick out what you want to keep.
3. Insert pages from another document. This is a little like the feature Couturier boasts. It isn’t described exactly the same way, but if you have multiple PDF files you want to combine into a single file, this is the command to use.
4. Extract the selected page. Let’s say you have a PDF full of tax documents from a previous year and you want to email a single page to someone. You could open the document, click print, choose that page, then “print” to PDF. Or you could open PDF Mod, open the PDF, highlight the page you want to save, and extract it to its own document.
5. Remove the selected page. Kind of the opposite of the above! If you mistakenly duplicated a page during PDF creation, or simply want to get rid of a single page, highlight the page and use this tool, then resave the PDF.
6. Rotate images. Sometimes a graphic will end up mysteriously rotated to the left or right, or a page in landscape mode ends up in portrait mode. This tool will rectify that. Again, click the page you want to rotate, then click the appropriate button to rotate 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise.
There are other tools in the menu system, such as the ability to select all the odd or even numbered pages, and a search function exists as well. If you need a little bit closer look at a page, to make sure you’re selecting the right one, there is also a zoom function. Oddly enough, this zoom function is about my only quibble with PDF Mod. As I zoom in, the space between the pages also increases, meaning that while the PDF may open up showing two pages side by side, if I zoom in, the space between the pages forces the second page onto the line below, meaning I soon have only a single column of images. I wish the pages could be spaced a little more tightly. This would make it simpler to compare to pages and would be more efficient at well.
The only other feature that might be nice to see would be the ability to run JPEG compression on embedded images. Other “save as PDF” tools I’ve seen can do this, and in many cases it’s a huge space saver. It’s easy, when creating a PDF, to simply drag and drop the perfect picture into the document, but sometimes that picture is far larger than the page, so instead of resizing it, the PDF creation tool simply fits it to the space provided, while keeping the full resolution of the photo. For screen viewing, this is unnecessary. Again, this might be beyond the scope of PDF Mod (it’s certainly beyond its tool set at the moment), but the ability, when saving, to use a lower quality JPEG setting would be a nice touch.
Still, PDF Mod is a fantastic program. It has replaced Couturier on my computer (although Couturier is great at what it does), and is just an incredibly useful tool. Probably not something I’ll use every day, but beyond my web browser, music player and text editor, what is?