How to break a PDF into parts using Acrobat X or XI

Learn how to edit a PDF by breaking a single PDF file into multiple PDF documents.

By December 13, 2011


In this tutorial, learn how to edit a PDF by breaking a single PDF file into multiple PDF documents using Acrobat X or XI. Have you ever needed to break a PDF into parts or separate files? Perhaps you only need to email a few pages to someone instead of the entire file. You can easily break up a PDF document by following a few simple steps using Acrobat X or Acrobat XI Std or Acrobat Pro.

First, open the PDF file that you want to break into different parts. Click on the Tools pane, Pages panel and select the Split Document command. The Split Document dialog allows you to control the split by the number of pages in a file, file size, or by top-level bookmarks. So, let’s say I’d like to split my document into 3 page increments, so I’ll select 3 pages in the Max. pages entry. And the Output Options allow you to control where the files are saved on your system, and how the files will be named. You can also specify if you want to overwrite any existing files. When I click OK, the pages are broken into different files and the original file is left unchanged. Here is a preview in Windows Explorer of all the files that have been split from the original file. Each one is named according to your selected output options.

In the Windows version only of Acrobat, you can also split apart one or more PDFs with no document open. Simply select the Apply to Multiple command in the Split Document dialog and add the files or folders to be split, and click OK.

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Products covered:

Acrobat XAcrobat XI

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Edit PDF

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Lori Kassuba

1 month ago

Hi Scott,

The Split command is only available in Acrobat and not the free Reader.



1 month ago

I have Reader XI, but the Pages…Split Document option is not available.

Lori Kassuba

9, 2014-12-18 18, 2014

Hi Kait J,

Sometimes I’ve hear of this error occurring when folks have Preview turning on in Windows Explorer. You might try checking this.


Kait J

11, 2014-12-15 15, 2014

Hi all,

I need some help with how I am splitting PDFs. One client requests that we deliver items individually, split by bookmark and named as the bookmarks. I am able to split the document fine, and able to save to a specific folder when needed. The problem arises when I go to change the naming convention for the bookmarks under Output Options. We need them named as the bookmarks are named; however every time I try to split the document with “Use bookmark names for file names” as the labeling, I get the message “The file may be read-only, or another user may have it open. Please save the document with a different name or in a different folder.” This happens whether I am working on the document on our network or my desktop, regardless of if “Do not overwrite existing files” is checked. No one else is working on this document at the same time. I am using Acrobat X Standard.

Lori Kassuba

1, 2014-06-24 24, 2014

Hi John,

You could use the Split document command first. Then, you’ll find an Action on the Actions Exchange to reverse pages here:

For the final step (if the PDF pages don’t contain interactivity and you’re not specifically worried about how it prints), you can print the whole thing to the Adobe PDF printer and use the Multiple command under the Page Sizing & Handling section of the print dialog.



6, 2014-06-19 19, 2014

Thanks for your video Lori, What if I had a single page PDF that I needed to divide it into 4 parts and then switch around 2 of the parts (reverse the order) then put it all together again on one page?

Lori Kassuba

3, 2014-04-09 09, 2014

Hi diksha,

Are you trying to break apart an individual PDF page into three separate pages? If so, you’ll need to duplicate the first page two times and then use the crop tool to create page regions. Here is a similar question that someone else has asked:



7, 2014-04-09 09, 2014

my pdf file is 2 pages if I try to make it 6 it says its already split. but I need to convert this one in to multiple pages.

Lori Kassuba

4, 2013-12-26 26, 2013

Hi HeyAdmin,

Here are a couple of suggestions on how to do this for non-sequential pages:



1, 2013-12-20 20, 2013

Our legal dept has a process by which they review a full pdf and send back a list of the pages that need to be redacted, but they are never sequential.  The final result needs to be a split of the original document into two documents:  one that contains the redacted pages and the other that contains the non-redacted pages.  Anyone know how to split a document by providing non sequential page numbers?

Lori Kassuba

12, 2013-06-10 10, 2013

Hi qwqw,

You could also use the Replace pages command to do this.


Lori Kassuba

12, 2013-06-10 10, 2013

Hi Annelle,

When you create a New Action in Acrobat XI, you can specify whether you want to run the Action on a file or folder. The file option allows you to select multiple files and the folder option is nice because when you run the Action, you can actually pick and choose files using the dropdown command called Manage files next to the Add Folder icon.



6, 2013-06-06 06, 2013

Acrobat has such amateurs working on this app… You split and you discover that you have lost your bookmark structure. The only way to split without losing that is to do copies of the document and do this in each:

1) manually delete all other pages, two ranges that is, one before and one after
2) then deleting the bookmarks of the pages you deleted.

You have the same problem when you try to extract a range of pages so I guess the code is obviously the same.

Another problem. You have a machine with 8 cores and only one is working in long operations like OCR etc. How hard is it to do multiple pages at the same time, one page per thread? It’s only a little extra code, the same locking and single threaded code can be used for the actual job. It would be 8 times faster. Of course it appears as though it does use more cores, but that’s not true because less than 100% use on a core means the code is waiting something else to finish and adding all to one gets 100% of a single core. Total CPU use on the computer is 13%, which makes one feel stupid for buying more expensive systems.


2, 2013-06-04 04, 2013

So Lori, I tried to create an action that would add page number to multiple files. I got it to work just fine with the file that was already open but didn’t see a way to choose/apply to multiple files. Can this be done?


Mohamed I

3, 2013-05-30 30, 2013

Simple Solution? Open the pdf with Google Chrome. Print. Save as PDF but select only the pages you want.


Lori Kassuba

1, 2013-05-21 21, 2013

Hi Annelle,

This infographic can help you learn about how to create an Action:



10, 2013-05-16 16, 2013

Hi Lori,

I do. Yes please tell me how to do this. I’ve learned so much via this discussion. Thanks.

Lori Kassuba

10, 2013-05-16 16, 2013

Hi Annelle,

If you have the Pro. version, you could create an Action that would apply the header/footer to a folder of PDF document.



2, 2013-05-15 15, 2013

Hi Lori,

Thanks for the follow up. While using the header/footer option I noticed the apply to multiple. That solves my issue without too much pain. It’s pretty easy, just add each document and it works like a charm. Eventually each document is re-numbered individually without having to do it one at a time.


10, 2013-05-09 09, 2013

Hi Lori,

Thanks for the info but I know I can touch each file separately. I was hoping that there was an option that would do it for me, like reset page numbers on a bookmark. That would be ideal :-)

For those following along, here’s my project. I have a daily report of applicants to our graduate program. Every applicant is in the same report. So some days there are 10 applicants and some days 20. And applications can be anywhere from 2 to four pages long depending on the amount of detail the applicant enters. 

This comes to me as a word document. It’s easy to save as PDF, add a book mark at the top of each application and split the document in to individual pdf files, one per application. That all works great. Renumbering the pages is a minor issue but I still hoping there’s an automatic way, - small sigh.

Lori Kassuba

9, 2013-05-09 09, 2013

Hi Annelle,

You can use the Header & Footer command to add the proper page numbers to each of these split files. At the same time, you can also replace the existing number. Here is a tutorial on the subject:
Adding headers/footers to your PDF documents in Acrobat 9



12, 2013-05-08 08, 2013

Thanks, Guillaume but I want all the files, I just want each file to re-start numbering at 1. I’m not printing them just saving each section a s a separate pdf


4, 2013-05-07 07, 2013

You can use a free pdf printer to print selected pages.
I know it’s a workaround but i you don’t have pro version, it will do the trick

Annelle Colevins

1, 2013-05-07 07, 2013


I’m using the bookmark feature then split document and it works great. But, is there a way to re-number each separate document? I added page numbers, say 1 - 53. The first document has pages 1 - 4, and the second one pages, 5-7, and so on. The second document picks up with page 5 instead of re-starting the page number.


Lori Kassuba

1, 2013-05-06 06, 2013

Hi Gerard,

What version of Acrobat are you using? Note that this isn’t possible using the free Reader.


Lori Kassuba

1, 2013-05-06 06, 2013

Hi Lewis,

Can you let us know how you reached this page? Perhaps there is an incorrect link out there. Here are some tutorials on the subject you were looking for:;=&tut_type=Video+OnDemand+Infographic+HTML/


Lori Kassuba

1, 2013-05-06 06, 2013

Hi Kathy,

Yes, you can do this easily by opening the Page navigation pane, selecting the pages, right-clicking (or ctrl-click on the Mac) and choosing Extract pages. However, you’ll need Acrobat and not the free Reader to do this.



3, 2013-05-04 04, 2013

What tool pane? No tool pane on my acrobat reader. there is a “tools” button under “view” but it does not give any options as the ones you describe. “export .pdf file”? No hint about how to split it up.

Lewis Montana

11, 2013-04-30 30, 2013

It was informative, but I don’t think it was as advertised, which was “How to convert PDFs to Office files”.


3, 2013-04-29 29, 2013

I need to split a 31 page document into two documents. One will be the first 7 pages and the second will be the remainder of the document. Is this possible?


4, 2013-04-26 26, 2013

Пропала вкладка модули, как теперь раскладывать файл на несколько на один лист, или раскладывать брошюру

Missing modules tab is now spread to several file onto a single sheet, or lay out a brochure.

Lori Kassuba

9, 2013-04-24 24, 2013

Hi Candice,

One idea would be to search for your keywords and when you find them create a top-level bookmark by using the Ctrl+B command. Then use the Split command and choose the top-level bookmark option.



9, 2013-04-19 19, 2013

Is there a version where I can I choose the pages I’d like to split?  EG, all pages containing a specific word. Or, is there a sorting feature/option so once sorted, I can split…

Lori Kassuba

9, 2013-04-15 15, 2013

Hi Lisa,
The split feature only looks at top-level bookmarks. So, you probably have one top-level bookmark, thus the single PDF file. I would try making a copy of the file and then removing the top-level bookmark and then using the split command.



8, 2013-04-10 10, 2013

I’m having the same problem; I can’t seem to separate a multiple-page pdf document into separate pages.  There is no security on the file.  When I try to split the document into pages by the top-level bookmark, it seems to be looking at the one main bookmark and simply copying the entire file into a new file, rather than separating the pages.  I thinking the issue here has something to do with the bookmarks.  I have one main bookmark with about 20 items under it.  I need the 20 items separated.

What am I missing?

Mauricio Leyzaola

6, 2013-03-24 24, 2013

Thanks a bunch Lori. It was driving me nuts split my huge 2.3 Gb PDF using the PDF printer. Works like a charm.

Patty Friesen

12, 2013-03-12 12, 2013

Hi Jan,

Thanks for taking the time to leave feedback. Glad you found the tip helpful!



7, 2013-03-07 07, 2013

Thank you for saving my sanity!

Lori Kassuba

2, 2013-02-19 19, 2013

Hi Michael,

You’ll need to remove the security first before extracting or splitting the pages. If this is not an option, then you might try printing the individual pages to the Adobe PDF printer.


Michael Airhart

8, 2013-02-16 16, 2013

The Extract and Split Document options are both grayed out (disabled) in Acrobat XI Standard, at least for “secured” documents.

I need to distribute the Ticketmaster tickets that I purchased to separate people. It seems that Adobe is trying much too hard to protect myself.


1, 2013-02-05 05, 2013

There is no such option in Acrobat 8 Professional.


You’re correct, this feature is part of Acrobat X. You’ll need to use the Extract command in earlier versions.



4, 2013-02-04 04, 2013

Why would you make this video auto play when you open the page?
That’s legit evil to people in crowded offices and libraries. You should fix that.

Hi Drew,

Thanks for your comments regarding auto-play. We are in the process of removing auto-play from our videos and should have that feature implemented within the next couple of days.



Mike S.

4, 2013-01-25 25, 2013

I receive large pdf files from architects (30 to 50 MB) containing multiple building plan sheets. Original sheets print out 24"x36”, sometimes a little larger.  I only need to save, email and/or print a limited number from the entire set.  Which Adobe product will let me break apart these large single files into multiple smaller pdf’s AND retain the original sheet size.  Thanks in advance.

Hi Mike S.,

Acrobat Std. can do this but if you ever need to create an oversized PDF with a custom page, you’ll need the Pro. version.



1, 2013-01-15 15, 2013

I want to take out only some pages from the document, which i want Ex- like i want to take out only 1-15 pages, if any one know please send msg

Hi Umar,

You’ll need to use Acrobat and not the free Reader to exact pages from an existing PDF document.



2, 2012-11-30 30, 2012

Lori u have solved my big problem.
thanx Lori


10, 2012-09-13 13, 2012

Thanks for such a useful video. It saved my day.


1, 2012-07-24 24, 2012

Have been trying to do this programmatically. Is this somewhere on the site?  If not, is this a possibility to show how to do in the .NET languages (VB, C#, etc.)

Thanks Robert


5, 2012-02-25 25, 2012


Hi Frank,

The Split command is found in Acrobat Std. or Pro. but not the free Adobe Reader.


Michael Ensor

2, 2012-01-16 16, 2012

Thanks for the info Lori, it was so easy to follow and understand

Thanks for letting us know.

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