Quickly scale many PDFs with Batch Scale PDF, a new free app

by Philip Rothman on March 28, 2016 · 16 comments

in News

Update: Since this post was originally published, Batch Scale PDF has been renamed PDF-BatchScale.

batchscalepdfAt NYC Music Services we often receive music ready to print in the form of PDFs. The most common part size we use to print is 9” x 12” (sometimes known as “Concert” size). Many times, though, the music arrives as “Letter” size (8.5” by 11”) or, if it’s coming from Europe, A4 size.

If it’s just one or two parts, it’s easy enough to use Preview’s built-in Scale function to resize the file to the correct size. But if it’s an entire set of orchestra parts – 30 or 40 – and, moreover, if it’s several cues or pieces, scaling each individual PDF gets old very quickly.

Because our printing workflow typically involves imposing booklets and combining PDFs for a large print run, it’s important that the source PDF is the correct size. For quite some time I’ve been looking for a simple way to quickly scale many PDFs to a different size paper at once, To my surprise, nothing existed.

Music engraver and font designer Abraham Lee learned of my search from a post I made on the Finale forum a month ago. A week after my post, he contacted me to tell me that he had cooked up a command-line utility that worked well — indeed, it did, quite brilliantly.

I asked if he’d be willing to turn his code into a proper app, and, lo and behold, in a few short weeks, I’m pleased to introduce the result of his efforts: Batch Scale PDF, a free app for Mac and PC.

batchscale-1

Batch Scale PDF is a simple, elegant way to scale the original PDF to the specified size of the output PDF by the largest percentage possible while still fitting within the dimensions of the output PDF. The aspect ratio of the original PDF doesn’t change, so if the output page size is different than the original PDF, Batch Scale PDF will automatically add margins to the output PDF as needed.

To get started, simply drag and drop your files onto the application window, or click the Add button to locate them in your file browser:

batchscale-2

Then, choose from many standard page sizes, such as ISO, North American, or music sizes, or input your own custom size in millimeters, inches, or points.

batchscale-3

There are a few other options:

  • Change the orientation of the page (portrait or landscape);
  • Add additional margins to the page (or enter a negative number to reduce the margins);
  • Add a prefix or suffix to the output PDFs to distinguish them from their sources;
  • Specify the output directory (the default is the source directory if nothing is selected).

Click Process Files, and in barely an instant you’ll have resized all your PDFs.

Batch Scale PDF was originally intended to scale sheet music of different sizes, of course, but it should work on most PDFs, for any purpose. It’s available for both Mac & PC, and it’s free to download and use from the Resources page of the NYC Music Services web site (e-mail registration required to get the download link and to automatically receive any updates to the app).

Many thanks to Abraham Lee for making such a useful, time-saving tool! I’m glad to be able to share it with you. Please share in the comments if you find it useful.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Dr. Dave March 28, 2016 at 9:48 AM

This is a great app! Thank you for sharing it Philip.

I don’t have a printer that will print 9×12 so I do my scores in Letter but when I’m lucky enough to have them performed I used to go through hoops to get the right size. This makes it simple, and FAST. (And it also simplifies the reverse, when someone requests a change to a file that’s Concert Size.)

Even using an old iMac and 10.6.8 it did a 43-page full orchestra score virtually instantly. The score looked fine on screen.

In case anyone is paranoid, which seems to be good practice when downloading, you are not charged even though you submit an “order”. I also scanned the .zip file and the app for viruses and they came up clean, as I think we all would expect from Philip, but just to be doubly safe I used ClamXAV and updated it just before the scan.

Thanks to Abraham for writing it and to Philip for sharing it. Having all of those music sizes in the drop-down menu is just one of the great features in a very useful app.

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Philip Rothman March 28, 2016 at 10:13 AM

Thanks, Dave! Always nice to have some independent verification :-)

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sib user March 28, 2016 at 10:36 AM

Downloaded the Windows version but it isn’t clean according to Virus Total.

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Philip Rothman March 28, 2016 at 10:51 AM

Sib user: Sorry to hear this. I just updated the zip file so that the vestigial “MAC OS X” directory no longer appears, so please try downloading it again from the link in your e-mail. You can install it with confidence. You might get a message that says that “Windows SmartScreen prevented an unrecognized app from starting”. Click “More info” and “Run anyway”.

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sib user March 29, 2016 at 2:31 AM

Thganks for that. Strange though…it’s still coming up with trojan warnings in Virus Total.

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jeff wraight March 30, 2016 at 7:05 AM

My McAffee Antivirus keeps Quarantining the app once the RAR is extracted, describing it as a Trojan. Any thoughts?

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Philip Rothman March 30, 2016 at 7:51 AM

Jeff: Try the steps outlined on McAfee’s site for how to restore a program from quarantine.

jeff wraight March 30, 2016 at 7:54 AM

Thanks for getting back Philip. I know how to do that – just worried about letting a ‘Trojan’ in!

Abraham Lee March 31, 2016 at 12:09 AM

Jeff and sib user,

I can guarantee you there’s no virus of any kind in the file. However, if you are still hesitant to use it, I can walk you through the process of making the binary on your own machine. It’s quite straight-forward and should only take you a few minutes. That way, you can know for sure that no third-party tampered with the code. Just shoot me an email if you’re interested!

Andrei March 28, 2016 at 11:45 AM

Brilliant!!! Thanks Abraham and Philip!!!
Any plugin recommended for batch changing the paper size for Sibelius files between US letter and A4? Thank you again!!!

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jeff wraight April 2, 2016 at 3:21 AM

Thanks for all the info folks. Good to go!

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Abraham Lee March 28, 2016 at 4:26 PM

Thanks, everyone! I hope this is useful. For those interested in using this little utility, you’ll find that PDFs with any kind of encryption/compression will cause errors. They have to be pre-processed using something else like PDFTK, QPDF, GhostScript, or the like (including the “Save to file” print command) to remove those features before they can be scaled. Then it should work!

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Philip Rothman March 28, 2016 at 5:03 PM

Hi Abraham! Thanks for this additional info.

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Christopher Smith October 11, 2016 at 9:22 PM

Yes to this. I have also made some edits to some scans using Preview in Mac, and those edits will not show up unless I print to PDF first. There is no discernible reduction in quality though; it simply allows the utility to include the edits.

Great app, and screamingly fast!

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Peter Roos March 28, 2016 at 7:24 PM

Very cool – thanks for sharing this, Abraham and Philip. :)

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Philip Rothman March 30, 2016 at 8:08 AM

Yes – I’m sorry it doesn’t come up as clean, but I think it’s just because it’s a very basic app from an “unknown” developer. Obviously you should judge the risk for yourself, but I’ve downloaded it directly from the site to my Surface without experiencing a problem, and although a few people have reported similar virus check flags like yours, none have reported actual viruses or any problems with the app itself.

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