Editing PDF metadata on OSx (ie: having the Kindle display the right title/author with pdfs)

One of the cool things you get to do with a Kindle is being able to access your pdf library on the go; however soon enough I ran into the problem of getting all the pdf files to show up with the right metadata, e.g. name, author, creator etc..

I thought that was a simple thing to do; nope! Spent quite some time looking for the right piece of software. Here’s my experience:

1. The False Friends


Adobe Reader. It does say only ‘reader’ but since you can see the metadata so easily, I thought Adobe would have let us edit them too. No way..

Screen shot 2010-10-19 at 16.12.35.png

Itunes. I didn’t know that, but yes it does open and catalogue your pdf files too. And it makes you think that you can edit some sort ‘metadata’ when you press apple+I.. however, these are just iTunes metadata. The pdf ones (which are embedded in the pdf file) won’t be touched. So iTunes is not good too.


PDF Meta Edit. I did a bit of googling and found this free little app, but it looked like my operating system didn’t like it (fyi, I’m running Snow Leopard).

2. The Lifesaving Friends

Screen shot 2010-10-19 at 16.15.20.png

PDF-Meta. A small project hosted on googleCode. It’s a simple java application, not particularly nice-looking but it does the job perfectly (and since it’s java you’ve got more chances it’ll work also on other operating systems).

Screen shot 2010-10-21 at 10.18.58.png

PDFInfo. Another small free app that does the job. This is OSx specific though, but it gives you control over a few more options compared to PDF-Meta.


That’s all I could find online… if you know of other solutions that work on OSx, please speak up!



12 Responses to “Editing PDF metadata on OSx (ie: having the Kindle display the right title/author with pdfs)”

Thanks so much for this post. I’m using PDFInfo and it’s a very light application that does what it says. PDF-Meta is gone from the site.

Larry added these pithy words on May 10 11 at 1:19 am

Hey Larry, glad it helped! Didn’t know PDF-meta is out of play – thanks for pointing that out.

mike added these pithy words on May 10 11 at 9:02 am

Thanks, I’ve been looking for one. I found PDFInfo to be very useful.

Jake added these pithy words on Jan 12 12 at 5:10 am

The functionality to edit PDF meta data is actually built into OSX in the form of some automator actions.
If you open the automator application you will need to add two actions to a workflow.
1) Ask for Finder Items (Under files and folders in the library)
2) Set PDF metadata (under pdf in the library)

Edit the meta data fields and run the workflow…
You can accomplish a lot of tasks with automator including merging PDFs

hugo added these pithy words on Jun 07 12 at 12:01 pm

Thanks Hugo I didn’t know that!

mike added these pithy words on Jun 07 12 at 10:14 pm

Perhaps you can also help here a bit:
a. Is there a way to replicate the meta-data from iTunes into the pdfs?
b. The Send-to-Kindle app doesn’t read the metadata from pdfs for some reason, is there another way to transfer the pdfs to kindle and make the kindle receive the metadata as well?

Daniel added these pithy words on Aug 13 12 at 9:13 pm

Nice review. I just wanted to let you know that pdf-meta is still there and still supported.

I programmed it for personal use but I will try to improve the look and integration for OSX (even if I do not run it on OSX).
Change request for improvements are always welcome in the project issue tracker.

Have fun,
– Rossi

Rossi added these pithy words on Aug 15 12 at 7:14 am

Two interesting facts:

(a) I’d prefer the pdf-meta Java solution, as it is able to display and actually edit the current meta information. Instead of that, PDFInfo will let you enter new ones and overwrite the old ones, without showing them as a starting point.

BTW – pdf-meta also supports drag & drop: Simply close the original file select box and drag your files to the white box on the left inside the program window.

(b) Both pdf-meta and PDFInfo share the problem that the file path _AND_ file name should contain only “regular” characters. If you are in a non-US environment, like myself in Germany, and you have something with umlaut in it, you’re stuck.

Let’s use a German word as an example, “Bürste” = “brush”.

– ~/Documents/Bürste/Bürste.pdf won’t work.
– ~/Documents/Buerste/Bürste.pdf won’t work.
– ~/Documents/Bürste/Buerste.pdf won’t work.
– ~/Documents/Buerste/Buerste.pdf _WILL_ work.

Gero added these pithy words on Dec 11 12 at 11:31 am

found some other alternatives for this task:

MetaPDF is a recent (2013) app available on the mac app store, i didn’t give it a try yet:

Exif Tool is a little overkilled (runs by terminal, no UI) but really powerful:

personally, i’m still searching my solution :)

Ste added these pithy words on Nov 05 13 at 10:58 am

tx, Exif Tool looks really good

Mikele added these pithy words on Nov 05 13 at 1:29 pm

PDF-Meta did the trick. Thx for the help!

Frank added these pithy words on Dec 04 14 at 7:58 pm

Good post , I was enlightened by the points , Does anyone know if my assistant would be able to get access to a template a form example to complete?

AN TSCHIDA added these pithy words on Sep 11 15 at 1:25 pm