PyPDF2 vs X

PyPDF2 is a free and open source pure-python PDF library capable of splitting, merging, cropping, and transforming the pages of PDF files. It can also add custom data, viewing options, and passwords to PDF files. PyPDF2 can retrieve text and metadata from PDFs as well.

PyMuPDF and PikePDF

PyMuPDF is a Python binding to MuPDF and PikePDF is the Python binding to QPDF.

While both are excellent libraries for various use-cases, using them is not always possible even when they support the use-case. Both of them are powered by C libraries which makes installation harder and might cause security concerns. For MuPDF you might also need to buy a commercial license.

A core feature of PyPDF2 is that it’s pure Python. That means there is no C dependency. It has been used for over 10 years and for this reason a lot of support via StackOverflow and examples on the internet.


PyPDF2 was forked from pyPDF. pyPDF has been unmaintained for a long time.

PyPDF3 and PyPDF4

Developing and maintaining open source software is extremely time-intensive and in the case of PyPDF2 not paid at all. Having a continuous support is hard.

PyPDF2 was initially released in 2012 on PyPI and received releases until 2016. From 2016 to 2022 there was no update - but people were still using it.

As PyPDF2 is free software, there were attempts to fork it and continue the development. PyPDF3 was first released in 2018 and still receives updates. PyPDF4 has only one release from 2018.

I, Martin Thoma, the current maintainer of PyPDF2, hope that we can bring the community back to one path of development. Let’s see.

pdfrw and pdfminer

I don’t have experience with either of those libraries. Please add a comparison if you know PyPDF2 and pdfrw or pdfminer.six!

Please be aware that there is also pdfminer which is not maintained. Then there is pdfrw2 which doesn’t have a large community behind it.

And there are more:

Document Generation

There are (Python) tools to generate PDF documents. PyPDF2 is not one of them.