PDFsam Review 2023: Three Versions, Safety, Pros and Cons

Peter William
September 17, 2021 Preview 15.0K Preview 0
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PDFsam is the open source tool to organize and manage PDF pages across macOS, Windows and Linux. According to the name, PDFsam, PDF Split and Merge, it is mainly designed to split and merge your PDF files. In fact, PDFsam offers 3 different versions featuring different sets of tools. Today, we are going to have a PDFsam review and help you choose the right PDFsam version, also we recommend 2 PDFsam alternatives.

Basics about PDFsam

#1 Three Different PDFsam Versions

PDFsam now contains three types, respectively are PDFsam Basic, PDFsam Visual and PDFsam Enhanced. Compared to PDFsam, other two versions possess more advanced functions:

  • PDFsam Basic: free and open-source tool, making it easy to split, merge, rotate, extract pages and mix PDF files.
  • PDFsam Visual: compress, crop, rotate, repair, encrypt & decrypt, delete pages, convert to PDF, extract texts from pages, etc.
  • PDFsam Enhanced: view, convert, create, edit, fill forms, OCR, sign etc. (Only the Pro version supports OCR component.)

But when people speaking about PDFsam, it generally refers to PDFsam Basic (PDF Split and Merge).

#2 Is PDFsam Basic Safe?

Yes, for sure, not only PDFsam is safe to use, all PDFsam versions, including Visual and Enhanced are safe for use.

I downloaded all the 3 versions and installed on my Mac or Windows PC, I didn’t find any malware or annoying ads coming with these programs. They are clean and run properly on my device. There is no slow-down, stuck or directing to 3rd websites, just as safely as you use any program on your device.

#3 Where to Free Download PDFsam Basic

The latest version of PDFsam Basic is V4.2.6, you can get the free download here (https://pdfsam.org/download-pdfsam-basic/). It is available on macOS, Windows, Linux, requiring 256MB RAM and at least 70MB to run & work on your device.

free download pdfsam

The PDFsam Review


  1. Several toolsets available with intuitional UI
  2. Files can be loaded via a simple drag-n-drop
  3. Offer 3 versions for different users: Basic, Visual, Enhanced
  4. Free or Free Trial to use
  5. Available on macOS, Windows, Linux, etc.


  1. Need take time to know the features of different PDFsam versions
  2. Pop-up window reminding you to upgrade to the Premium version
  3. Can’t install PDFsam Enhanced on Mac
  4. Task processing take long time to complete
  5. Need subscribe Advanced version to get access to some features, like OCR

PDFsam Basic Review

The Interface

PDFsam Basic has an intuitive and user-friendly interface, with 7 modules designed for specific task allocated in the main interface. By clicking on the question mark of each module, you will be directed to the tutorials. In the Settings tab, you can decide the appearance, behavior, workspace, output preferences as you like.

pdfsam review

The Features

Split: It contains 3 split rules.

  • Split after option: choose Every Page, Even Pages (2,4,6, etc.), and Odd pages (1,3,5,etc.). 
  • Split after the following page number: type the page numbers you want to split and add a comma between them, such as 2,6,7,11. 
  • Split by every "n" page: if you set the number 3, it will mean splitting PDF every 3 pages.

pdfsam split

Split by bookmarks

It lets you split PDF files according to the depth level of bookmarks in the bookmark tree. For example, to split a book at the chapter level, you should tell the program to split at the chapter bookmark level, which will split the pages that the bookmarks point to. Also, you can set “Matching regular expression” option.

Split by size

It can split your PDF into multiple files by the given size. Be sure to enter the correct number and choose Megabytes or Kilobytes. But the result is not always accurate due to the nature of the PDF files.


Unlike online PDF merge tool, the Merge in PDFsam Basic has some professional settings. You can add a blank page if page number is odd, add footer and normalise page size (resize all pages to the same width as the first page).

Meanwhile, you are capable of handling Interactive forms (merge, flatten, discard), Bookmarks (retain, discard, create), and Table of contents (don’t generate, generate).

pdfsam merge


The Extract module allows you to extract pages from PDF files. You can create a new PDF file that including the required pages by typing single pages or page ranges, like 3 or 7-21 or 2,5-14,19,22-25 (comma separated page numbers or ranges).

pdfsam extract

Alternate Mix

This module means mixing two or more PDF files and merging them into one by inputting the page ranges, pace numbers and reversing orders.

Page ranges: specify the pages or page ranges that you would like to mix, e.g. 6-13,20 or 15– (from page 15 to the end).

  • Reverse: take pages in reverse order.
  • Pace: set the page numbers the program should fetch from one PDF file before it switches to the next one.
  • To set the Page ranges column and Pace column, you should double click the specified field.

pdfsam alternative mix


Rotate is not difficult to comprehend and operate, just set the page ranges you need to rotate. To narrow the scope, you can also choose all pages, even pages, or odd pages to rotate from settings. As for rotation angle, you are free to select 90 degrees clockwise, 180 degrees clockwise or 90 degrees counterclockwise.

pdf rotate

PDFsam Visual Review

PDFsam Visual, a sibling application of PDFsam Basic, enables you to complete tasks on PDF files in a "visual" fashion. It’s divided into 4 categories - split tools, merge tools, convert tools and other tools. Each category performs perfectly with the useful and elaborate tools. 


  1. Split tools: extract pages, delete pages, 4 split modes
  2. Merge tools: alternate mix, combine & reorder, merge
  3. Convert tools: Extract text, convert to grayscale, convert images to PDF
  4. Other tools: compress, rotate, crop, protect, unlock, repair PDFs
  5. Options are available to customize the processed PDF


  1. 14-day free trial only, subscription fee from $34.9~$59.0
  2. Task processing takes long time to complete

pdfsam visual

PDFsam Enhanced Review

The version of PDFsam Enhanced is a dedicated PDF solution that assists you to simplify document workflows and meet user’s needs through the robust PDF conversion, editing and OCR tools. Edit objects by modifying text, adjusting margins and pages size, etc.


  1. Edit PDFs
  2. Create PDF by Print As
  3. Convert PDF to Word, Excel and other 300+ file types
  4. Insert pages, watermarks, headers, footer
  5. Annotate PDFs
  6. Fill forms
  7. Protect and unprotect PDFs
  8. OCR PDFs (only Advanced version supports)


  1. 14-day free trial only, requiring payment from $69~$79
  2. Only Windows version, no Mac version
  3. Task processing takes long time to complete

pdfsam enhanced

Which is The Best Version of PDFsam to Use?

This depends on which feature you will need the most to work with your PDFs. Here we make a comparison table for you to quickly get the differences and make your decision.

  PDFsam Basic PDFsam Visual PDFsam Enhanced
License Free Free Trial
Pro $34.9/year
Perpetual $59
Standard $69/year
Pro $69/year
Pro+OCR $79/year
Open Source Yes No No
Support OS Windows, Linux and MacOS Windows, Linux and MacOS Windows only
Features Split, Merge, Extract, Rotate Split, Merge, Convert, Compress, Rotate, Crop, Protect, Unprotect, Repair View, Create, Convert, Edit, Insert, Annotate, Fill Form, Protect, Unprotect, OCR

In my own opinion, pick either PDFsam Basic or PDFsam Enhanced. If you work with PDF files very often and plan to invest the money on a PDFsam tool, PDFsam Enhanced will be the best choice. 

In case you have tried all the versions and don’t satisfy with their performances, continue to read the following part.

Best PDFsam Alternatives

Although PDFsam Basic is free, as its name indicates, it merely performs basic task, like rotating PDF, merging PDF, splitting PDF, etc. If you want to convert PDF to other editable formats, you need download PDFsam Enhanced Pro+OCR. But the price of it is too expensive that you have to pay $69 per year. Moreover, PDFsam Enhanced is only compatible with Windows at the moment, there is no PDFsam Enhanced for Mac.

But no worries, here we list the best PDFsam alternatives for you if PDFsam is not working for you or you just need a better option.

Best PDFsam Alternative for Mac/Windows

PDFMaster is a great PDF tool with 8 modules , working similarly as PDFsam Enhanced to handle your PDFs. It helps convert, create, compress, split, encrypt, decrypt and edit PDFs. In other words, it performs virtually all PDF tasks.

Main Features of Cisdem PDFMaster

  • Convert PDF to 15+ document formats
  • Create PDF from Word, Image, and so on
  • Make PDF file smaller
  • Add or remove password protection from PDFs
  • Annotate and markup PDF files
  • Most of the tasks can be done in batch

How to Use PDFsam Alternative for Mac/Windows?

  1. Download and install PDFMaster on your device.
    Free Download   Free Download
  2. Add your PDF by clicking "Open Files" in the interface. pdfmaster interface
  3. To edit or organize the PDF files with provided tools.pdfmaster edit
  4. Save or convert the PDF file as per your need. pdfmaster convert

Best PDFsam Alternative for Windows

Icecream PDF Editor is the recommend Windows program as PDFsam alternative. It has the editing function to edit any text in PDF format, also edit PDF objects, such as move, resize, and rotate. Same as PDFsam, it offers additional features to organize and manage PDF pages, you can create PDF, protect PDF, split and merge PDF, fill forms, annotate, search and add stamp to PDFs. However, you cannot convert PDF files using this program. If you want a PDF editor with conversion feature, try ABBYY FineReader or Nitro PDF Editor.

How to Use PDFsam Alternative for Windows?

  1. Download and install Icecream PDF Editor to your Windows.
  2. Add PDF to the program.pdfsam alternative win01
  3. Click on Edit button and edit the PDF file as per your need. Or split, merge PDF files if needed.pdfsam alternative win02
  4. Then click on Save button.


From the discussion above, we can know PDFsam is very efficient in delivery and well reckoned as high class. But there is no perfect software, in the real sense there is only the most suitable. If you think PDFsam enhanced version costs too much or not working for you, you can give other tools a try, like PDFMaster for Mac or Icecream PDF Editor for Windows.

Peter William
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Peter has always had great enthusiasm for writing, programming and web development. He likes writing about software and technology, his works are featured on some tech blogs or forums like Tom's Hardware, CNET, etc.

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