pikepdf is a Python library allowing creation, manipulation and repair of PDFs. It provides a Pythonic wrapper around the C++ PDF content transformation library, QPDF.
Python + QPDF = “py” + “qpdf” = “pyqpdf”, which looks like a dyslexia test and is no fun to type. But say “pyqpdf” out loud, and it sounds like “pikepdf”.
At a glance
pikepdf is a library intended for developers who want to create, manipulate, parse, repair, and abuse the PDF format. It supports reading and write PDFs, including creating from scratch. Thanks to QPDF, it supports linearizing PDFs and access to encrypted PDFs.
# Rotate all pages in a file by 180 degrees
with pikepdf.Pdf.open('test.pdf') as my_pdf:
for page in my_pdf.pages:
It is a low level library that requires knowledge of PDF internals and some familiarity with the PDF specification. It does not provide a user interface of its own.
pikepdf would help you build apps that do things like:
Copy pages from one PDF into another
Extract content from a PDF such as images
Replace content, such as replacing an image without altering the rest of the file
Repair, reformat or
Change the size of pages and reposition content
Optimize PDFs similar to Acrobat’s features by downsampling images, deduplicating
Calculate how much to charge for a scanning project based on the materials scanned
Alter a PDF to meet a target specification such as PDF/A or PDF/X
Add or modify PDF metadata
Add, remove, extract, and modify PDF attachments (i.e. embedded files)
Create well-formed but invalid PDFs for testing purposes
What it cannot do:
Print to paper
If you only want to generate PDFs and not read or modify them, consider reportlab (a “write-only” PDF generator).
pikepdf currently requires Python 3.8+. pikepdf 1.x supports Python 3.5. pikepdf 2.x and 3.x support Python 3.6; pikepdf 4.x through 6.x support Python 3.7. Python 2.7 has never been supported.
Unlike similar Python libraries such as pypdf, pikepdf is not pure Python. These libraries were designed prior to Python wheels which has made Python extension libraries much easier to work with. By leveraging the existing mature code base of QPDF, despite being new, pikepdf is already more capable than both in many respects – for example, it can read compress object streams, repair damaged PDFs in many cases, and linearize PDFs. Unlike those libraries, it’s not pure Python: it is impure and proud of it.
PyMuPDF is a PDF library with impressive capabilities. However, its AGPL license is much more restrictive than pikepdf, and its dependency on static libraries makes it difficult to include in open source Linux or BSD distributions.
pikepdf is used by the same author’s OCRmyPDF to inspect input PDFs, graft the
generated OCR layers on to page content, and output PDFs. Its code contains several
practical examples, particular in
optimize.py. pikepdf is also used in its test suite.
- PDF split, merge, and document assembly
- Working with pages
- Object model
- Stream objects
- Working with content streams
- Working with images
- Overlays, underlays, watermarks, n-up
- Character encoding
- Name trees
- Attaching files to a PDF
- Default appearance in PDF viewers
- PDF security
- Main objects
- Support models
- Content streams
- Build process notes
- Contributing guidelines