Lifehacking Tips – Easy Way to Split PDFs

I’m a techie at heart, and people like us are generally lazy, always on the lookout for shortcuts to make work and life more efficient. This post is part of a series on various neat tricks that I’ve picked up along the way. Most of them have something to do with either technology or gadgets.

I had a quandary at work today. Over the years I’ve accumulated many sheets of paper. Some of them are napkin scribblings by senior doctors eager to teach a pertinent point regarding a patient on rounds. Others are snippets of magazines and journals. I have a smattering of tax forms mailed to me from years past. Yet others are rare printouts of algorithms and flowsheets so obscure that they are forever lost in the ether of the internet.

As I wrote in my book on wealth, part of my life goal is to minimize the number of possessions to the bare essential minimum. As a result, every so often I do a massive cleaning of my paper documents, digitizing and then trashing them. I could not have done this without technology and the cloud, which hosts digitized versions of my paper documents, keeping them secure and accessible from just about anywhere.

Previously, I would sometimes take a snapshot of the file with my phone camera and then work with the jpeg image. This is easy to do, but left much to be desired in terms of quality. Lighting, shadowing from the camera, and background objects frequently intruded. The resolution wasn’t that great, even with the latest camera models, and lugging around a DSLR just for this purpose is impractical.

Since I was at work, I chose to use the work scanner, which made high-resolution, high-fidelity copies of my files but saved them as separate pages of one large PDF format. Argh! I obviously didn’t want to save one massive mishmash of a file which contained tax information, journal articles, napkin scribble, and SI models. I was at work, so I couldn’t use free plugins from Foxit or other third party software to break apart the file. What to do?

Thankfully, Google Chrome came to the rescue. Long a favourite tool of hackers everywhere, Chrome has invaded office workplaces simply because it can be installed offline/standalone without needing administrator mode. It’s faster than IE and supports Netflix, PDFs, and Flash video straight out of the box. So pervasive was its reach that sysadmins at my hospital gave up and made it part of the default applications for every computer.

Ok, you’re eagerly waiting for the content of this post – how to use Chrome to split apart large PFDs. First, open the pdf with Chrome. You can right click on the pdf file and “open with” Chrome, or you can open (CTRL+O) directly from Chrome, or drag the pdf file onto the tab menu on top of Chrome.

Next select the print (CTRL+P) option. On the left hand side you’ll see a destinations section. Below there is a “Change” button. Click that and select Save as PDF.



Now you can enter which pages you want to create as your new pdf file. You can write “1-11”, “1,2,3”, or even skip certain pages like so: “1-3, 6-7, 11”.


Choose save/print and you’ll be prompted with where to save your new split pdf file. Repeat for the rest of the sections.






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