At 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 in 2016 on the old Finale forum. 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 he did. The result: PDF-BatchScale, a desktop app for Mac and PC available from Notation Central.
PDF-BatchScale 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, PDF-BatchScale 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:
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.
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.
PDF-BatchScale 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 available in the Productivity category of Notation Central, our online marketplace for music notation technology.
While it is possible to obtain PDF-BatchScale for free, you can support development by naming your own price, which we really appreciate. We suggest $10 — a modest amount, when you think about all of the time it will save you!
And if you like PDF-BatchScale, there’s more where that came from:
- PDF-BatchBooklet, which creates imposed booklets for many PDFs at once;
- PDF-BatchStitch, which combines multiple PDFs into one file, along with the option to set the number of copies for any of the PDFs;
- PDF-MusicBinder, an amazing all-in-one app that creates consolidated PDFs for easy printing for either accordion-style layout or stapled imposed booklets.
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.
Thanks, Dave! Always nice to have some independent verification :-)
Downloaded the Windows version but it isn’t clean according to Virus Total.
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”.
Thganks for that. Strange though…it’s still coming up with trojan warnings in Virus Total.
My McAffee Antivirus keeps Quarantining the app once the RAR is extracted, describing it as a Trojan. Any thoughts?
Jeff: Try the steps outlined on McAfee’s site for how to restore a program from quarantine.
Thanks for getting back Philip. I know how to do that – just worried about letting a ‘Trojan’ in!
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.
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!
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!!!
Thanks for all the info folks. Good to go!
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!
Hi Abraham! Thanks for this additional info.
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!
Very cool – thanks for sharing this, Abraham and Philip. :)
After doing the usual, trawling the net for a neat little program to rescale 360 pdf images quickly, i was rewarded with finding this little prog for mac.
brilliant and thank you.
quick efficient and very straight forward
Excellent – I’m glad it was useful!
Michael Damian Klinkenberg
Thank you Philip, stony way to get it (for which I can see your reasons) though ;-)
Got hundreds of science books and cartoons, different scale and sizes,
and I don’t want to use the “fit to…” button anymore whose options varies
depending on the book too.
Hence I went for your brilliant program.
Even so, still can’t fix a bug? on a recent E reader, display 85mm w x 150mm l.
Using [Custom Size, portrait orientation] gets me images approx. half the size right in the middle which need to be zoomed again.
Expected were single pages, fullscreen thus no buttons to redadjust anymore.
Would send screenshot if possible at this place.
Hi Michael, I’m not sure what the problem would be, but you could try contacting Abraham Lee to see if he were willing to take a look.
OK. I must be an idiot. I followed the instructions. I added 23 pdf files. After clicking “Process Files” only two random files (# 2 AND #11) were in the output directory. Tried it four times same result. What am I doing wrong?
There might be something happening in the files that’s causing this. It’s rare but I’ve seen it happen, especially if the files are encrypted or otherwise preventing modification by the user.
Mark j Cavanaugh
Thank you–a beautiful and well-done app. Windows stops me, but I say run anyway and it works like a charm. I’ll get the binder app as well. Thanks so much!
Terrific, thanks so much, Mark! Yes, we haven’t gone through the official Windows certification process (yet) but rest assured the apps are fine to use. Enjoy!
Ah! Yes, this is going to save so much time!
What superb PDF software that is! It’s so clean, simple and logical with no unnecessary frills. It’s wonderful to see that a designer and engraver is also logical and rational – and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be, of course! As your late Mr Persig put it, Western society creates a false dichotemy between arts and crafts; creativity and logicality.
Well done Mr Abraham Lee! The elegance of your work has made me smile. :)