pdf*: The splat meaning, “Whatever you want”

There’s no tool called pdf*. That’s just my snarky way of pointing out that there are hundreds of tools that start with “pdf” and do any number of conversion, editing, manipulation, password hacking or display tasks for PDF files.

There are even tools to drive spinning cube transitions for PDF documents. 😯 😕

An added ruffle comes in the fact that for every pdf conversion tool — particularly the ones cleverly titled “pdf2”-whatever — there’s usually a sister tool that reverses the process.

You saw that in action (sort of) the other day when I used ps2pdf14, out of the ghostscript package, to view the calendars pcal made.

So the number grows linearly. 😯

The fact is, there are enough of pdf* tools to satisfy a blog just about PDF tools. 🙄 Granted, not all of them are intended specifically for the console or even specifically for Linux. In fact a few of them might only work under full graphical steam.

But this post is my concession that there are hundreds to pick from, that I don’t have a comprehensive list by any stretch, and the few that I know personally are by no means the best available.

Rather than send you away empty-handed though, I have an admittedly brief list of some of the tools that start with pdf*, and links to their home pages where I could find them.

It’s possible that some of these are not text-only, and that some of them aren’t even working or available any more. It’s just a healthy chunk of the P section that I’m handing over, out of a sense of duty. 🙄 Here goes. …

  • pdfadd: Builds mathematical graphs and diagrams in PDFs.
  • pdfbeads: Converts scanned images into a single PDF file.
  • pdf2book: Reorders PDF pages for printing in book format.
  • pdfcrack: Password recovery for PDF files.
  • pdfcrop: A perl script to trim white space from PDFs.
  • pdf-decrypt: Strips encryption from PDFs.
  • pdf2djvu: Creates DjVu files from PDFs.
  • pdfenlarger: Adds whitespace to PDFs.
  • pdfgrep: grep for PDF files.
  • pdf2htmlEX: Renders (converts?) PDF pages to HTML.
  • pdfjam: Shell scripts that build on the pdfpages package.
  • pdflatex.sh: Simplifies creation of PDFs with LaTeX.
  • pdf2line: Converts PDFs to plain text.
  • pdfmasher: Converts PDFs to epub format.
  • pdfminer: Extracts information from PDFs.
  • pdf-parser: Reports the physical and logical structure of PDF files.
  • pdf2png: Converts PDF pages to PNG files.
  • pdfposter: Scale or tile PDF images for large-size printing.
  • pdfreduce: Runs a PDF file through Ghostscript in hopes of reducing the original file size.
  • pdfreflow: Reflows and repaginates text within a PDF.
  • pdfresurrect: Analyzes PDFs and supports a built-in document history.
  • pdfsam: Split and merge PDFs.
  • pdfsandwich: Processes PDF files with optical character recognition and adds the text behind images of the pages.
  • pdfscissors: Crops PDFs.
  • pdfselect: A page selector for PDF files.
  • pdf2svg: Converts PDFs to SVG files.
  • pdf-tools: Various tools, including building and creating embedded PDFs.
  • pdftools: Scripts for manipulating PDFs.
  • pdftrans: Adds metadata or encrypts PDF files.
  • pdftxt: Extracts text from PDFs.

My apologies beforehand for any broken links or nonworking packages. I haven’t taken the time to try them all out. That would be a feat. 😯