Programster's Blog

Tutorials focusing on Linux, programming, and open-source

PDF Cheatsheet


As with all of my cheatsheets, this is just a dumping ground for as things come up.

Save Unlocked PDF

If you get a PDF that requires a password to unlock, you can use this command to save a version that won't need unlocking in future.

qpdf \
  --password=$PASSWORD \
  --decrypt $INPUT.pdf \

This requires having installed qpdf with sudo apt-get install qpdf.

Create Encrypted PDF


qpdf \
  --encrypt \
  256 -- input.pdf \

That is not a mistake, one has to provide the password twice.

Create A PDF From A Series Of Images

The following command will create a PDF document where all the images are the same width.

convert -quality 100% -resize 629 \
  "path/to/image.png" -resize 629 \
  "path/to/image2.png" -resize 629 \

If you want the images to not all be the same width, then remove the -resize 629. Also, all your images need to have the same DPI, otherwise it doesn't work.

Fixing Error Message

If you get the error message:

convert-im6.q16: attempt to perform an operation not allowed by the security policy `PDF' @ error/constitute.c/IsCoderAuthorized/408.

Then do the following. Edit your ImageMagick policy configuration:

editor /etc/ImageMagick-6/policy.xml

Add the following just before the final </policy> tag:

  <policy domain="coder" rights="read | write" pattern="PDF" />


  <policy domain="coder" rights="none" pattern="PDF" />
  <policy domain="coder" rights="none" pattern="XPS" />
  <policy domain="coder" rights="read | write" pattern="PDF" />

It should now work!

Split PDF Into Set Of PDFs

If you wish to split a PDF into a set of single-page PDFs, you can do so like this:

pdftk myoldfile.pdf burst 

Pdftk can be installed by running sudo apt install pdftk-java.

Reverse PDF Pages

If your PDF is in the reverse order of what it should be, you can rearrange the pages with the following command:


  cat end-1 \

Convert PDF To Set Of Images

Tools like Figma make it really easy to export as a single PDF. However, I need to convert that to just a set of PNG images. Luckily this is really easy, and essentially the same as before in reverse (using ImageMagick).

convert \
  input-file.pdf \

That will create a set of incremented filenames like so:

  • output-0.png
  • output-1.png
  • output-2.png

Crop PDF

If you have a PDF, and you find that the margins are too large, which is causing it to be hard to read easily on a tablet, you can crop the margins with pdfcrop as shown below:


pdfcrop \
  --margins "$LEFT $TOP $RIGHT $BOTTOM" \

This can also be useful for when printing if you want to "zoom in" on the content as the printer can scale to fit the width.


Last updated: 9th November 2022
First published: 14th April 2019