In this post, I want to share how to convert PDF to images using the command line tool pdftoppm.
pdftoppm is provided by the poppler project.
Install on Windows
For Windows, in order to install the latest version of poppler, we can install it via conda:
conda install -c conda-forge poppler
On Windows, the
pdftoppm tool will be installed in
ANACONDA_ROOT/Library/bin. We should add this directory to the Windows PATH.
Install on Ubuntu
To install popper on Ubuntu, use apt-get:
apt-get update && apt-get install -y poppler-utils
This package installs the poppler command line utilities, such as
which we are going to use.
Install on macOS
On macOS, poppler can be easily installed via homebrew:
brew install poppler
How to use
To convert a single page of PDF to image, we can run the following command:
pdftoppm -singlefile -f 4 -r 72 -jpeg -jpegopt quality=90 presentation.pdf test_poppler
The PDF file we want to convert to images is
presentation.pdf. The generated
image name prefix is
test_poppler. The image extension is decided by the
exported image format. An explanation of the options used:
-singlefile: only convert one page of PDF. It is used together with the
-foption to convert a single PDF page.
-f: index of the PDF page you want to convert. The page index starts at 1.
-r: image DPI in both x and y direction. If you want to set DPI in x and y direction separately, use
-jpeg: convert PDF page to JPEG format.
-jpegopt: option used when convert PDF pages to JPEG images. For options and their meanings, see here.
According to my test,
pdftoppm works great and can produce the needed images
If you want to use Python, there is also a package named pdf2image, which is a thin wrapper around pdftoppm. Make sure you have installed pdftoppm and set its PATH correctly.
In the following script, I show an example on how to use the package.
from pdf2image import convert_from_path
pages = convert_from_path("presentation.pdf", first_page=2,
if __name__ == "__main__":
convert_from_path() will convert the PDF to a list of PIL Image object. You can then manipulate the images with the powerful functionality provided by the Pillow package.
There also a few important parameters to note:
dpi: this change the size and quality of the generated images. If you want to generate high quality images, use a large dpi, e.g., 300.
thread_count: Use multi-threading to accelerate image generation. The author suggests no more than 4 threads, however, I found more threads lead to lightly faster speed. You may tweak it to fit your need.
I have also written a more detailed script to directly generate images from PPT file on the command. You can find the script here.
Note that older version of pdftoppm only support PPM and PNG format. Newer versions support exporting to JPEG and TIFF format image. You should check whether exporting to JPEG is supported by using
pdftoppm --helpin the command line. ↩︎
License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0