I have a PDF file I need to cut some parts out of for a presentation. I tried doing this with GIMP and saving the result as a PDF.

However when I zoom in on the result, the quality is bad, even though the file format is correct, the output doesn't have the quality I expect from a PDF.

At the moment my solution is the following: when I import the pdf file in GIMP I set a very high quality, but I don't like this solution. It seems "naive" to me. I hope that you understand my question, I can't explain myself very well in this context.

*I am not an expert of graphics, I don't know the right terminology but what I mean here is that when you zoom in on a PDF file the quality is preserved. You can zoom it how much as you want and this is the thing that I want to preserve.

  • Hi, welcome to GD.SE! Can you clarify what the problem is? You seems to be getting the result you want in the end, what's wrong with your solution? Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 19:09

3 Answers 3


GIMP is a raster image editor - so, if you import a PDF you'll get a raster image, and raster images are made of pixels. Obviously if you import it at a high resolution the quality will be good, but not if you zoom in. When you zoom in on raster images you will see the pixels.

It is often possible to cut up a PDF using vector image editing software, such as Adobe Illustrator (not free), or Inkscape (free). Both can open PDFs. Vector images are rescalable - so you can zoom in without seeing any pixels.

Note: PDF images can contain both vector and raster elements.

  • Thank you, now I know also a little bit more terminology. I know that some PDFs contains raster images, I was referring to PDFs with vector images. I will try with Inkscape. Thanks!
    – spy95
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 10:10
  • You need to increase the default resolution when you import. GIMP will probably offer a default in the import PDF dialog of say 100dpi - increase this to 300dpi or 600dpi (pixels/in in the dialog).
    – javabrett
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 10:39
  • @javabrett - I already mentioned that in my answer which includes "if you import it at a high resolution".
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 7:19

I wouldn't say importing the pdf at a high quality is a naive solution, If importing a 580x890 it should be set to at least 800-1000 pixels/in

The resolution box does appear at first to mean 100% but that's not the case.

  • I agree with this is not naive. But sub optimal. You can do this, a bit like you could dismantle the eifel tower and move it to your back yard. And like that example i wouldnt do it this way unless there is some culturally significant reason to do so and i can live with the tradeoff because i have no choice.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 6:07

I have dealt with this in many different ways. One that is easy and works in many situations is to take a screen shot of the part of the PDF that you need, at a high zoom level. Then, edit the resulting raster image. Because you zoom in to the PDF first, you create a large image that can be scaled, and will still have sufficient resolution for it to be zoomed itself. The only limitation is the size of your monitor, because most ways of capturing screen shots only let you capture one monitor's worth. However, again, if you are good with image editing, you can zoom into your PDF, capture it as more than one image (scroll to the parts you need), and then stitch the multiple images together. For anything but a photograph, this isn't that hard. Also, some screen capture programs actually do capture more than one screenfull -- see "ShareX" which is free and allows scrolling captures.

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