Skip to main content

Extract metadata and URLs from PDF files, and download all referenced PDFs

Project description


Build status for master branch image image


Extract references (pdf, url, doi, arxiv) and metadata from a PDF. Optionally download all referenced PDFs and check for broken links.


  • Extract references and metadata from a given PDF
  • Detects pdf, url, arxiv and doi references
  • Fast, parallel download of all referenced PDFs
  • Find broken hyperlinks (using the -c flag) (more)
  • Output as text or JSON (using the -j flag)
  • Extract the PDF text (using the --text flag)
  • Use as command-line tool or Python package
  • Compatible with Python 2 and 3
  • Works with local and online pdfs

Getting Started

Grab a copy of the code with easy_install or pip, and run it:

$ sudo easy_install -U pdfx
$ pdfx <pdf-file-or-url>

Run pdfx -h to see the help output:

$ pdfx -h
usage: pdfx [-h] [-d OUTPUT_DIRECTORY] [-c] [-j] [-v] [-t] [-o OUTPUT_FILE]

Extract metadata and references from a PDF, and optionally download all
referenced PDFs. Visit for more information.

positional arguments:
  pdf                   Filename or URL of a PDF file

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
                        Download all referenced PDFs into specified directory
  -c, --check-links     Check for broken links
  -j, --json            Output infos as JSON (instead of plain text)
  -v, --verbose         Print all references (instead of only PDFs)
  -t, --text            Only extract text (no metadata or references)
  -o OUTPUT_FILE, --output-file OUTPUT_FILE
                        Output to specified file instead of console
  --version             show program's version number and exit


Lets take a look at this paper:

$ pdfx
Document infos:
- CreationDate = D:20150821110623-04'00'
- Creator = LaTeX with hyperref package
- ModDate = D:20150821110805-04'00'
- PTEX.Fullbanner = This is pdfTeX, Version 3.1415926-2.5-1.40.14 (TeX Live 2013/Debian) kpathsea version 6.1.1
- Pages = 13
- Producer = pdfTeX-1.40.14
- Title = Imperfect Forward Secrecy: How Diffie-Hellman Fails in Practice
- Trapped = False
- dc = {'title': {'x-default': 'Imperfect Forward Secrecy: How Diffie-Hellman Fails in Practice'}, 'creator': [None], 'description': {'x-default': None}, 'format': 'application/pdf'}
- pdf = {'Keywords': None, 'Producer': 'pdfTeX-1.40.14', 'Trapped': 'False'}
- pdfx = {'PTEX.Fullbanner': 'This is pdfTeX, Version 3.1415926-2.5-1.40.14 (TeX Live 2013/Debian) kpathsea version 6.1.1'}
- xap = {'CreateDate': '2015-08-21T11:06:23-04:00', 'ModifyDate': '2015-08-21T11:08:05-04:00', 'CreatorTool': 'LaTeX with hyperref package', 'MetadataDate': '2015-08-21T11:08:05-04:00'}
- xapmm = {'InstanceID': 'uuid:4e570f88-cd0f-4488-85ad-03f4435a4048', 'DocumentID': 'uuid:98988d37-b43d-4c1a-965b-988dfb2944b6'}

References: 36
- URL: 18
- PDF: 18

PDF References:

You can use the -v flag to output all references instead of just the PDFs.

Download all referenced pdfs with -d (for download-pdfs) to the specified directory (eg. to /tmp/):

$ pdfx -d /tmp/

To extract text, you can use the -t flag:

# Extract text to console
$ pdfx -t

# Extract text to file
$ pdfx -t -o pdf-text.txt

To check for broken links use the -c flag:

$ pdfx -c

[Example (with video) of checking for broken links](

Usage as Python library

>>> import pdfx
>>> pdf = pdfx.PDFx("filename-or-url.pdf")
>>> metadata = pdf.get_metadata()
>>> references_list = pdf.get_references()
>>> references_dict = pdf.get_references_as_dict()
>>> pdf.download_pdfs("target-directory")

Dev & Contributing

# Setup venv
python3 -m venv
venv . venv/bin/activate

# Install PDFx and dev deps
pip install -e .
pip install -r requirements_dev.txt

# Run tests and checks
make test
make lint
make check

# Format the code (with black)
make format


  • Update version number in and pdfx/
  • Create a git tag starting with v (eg. git tag v1.5.9)
  • Push the tag to GitHub: git push --tags

GitHub Actions is then publishing to PyPI.


Feedback, ideas and pull requests are welcome!

Download files

Download the file for your platform. If you're not sure which to choose, learn more about installing packages.

Source Distribution

pdfx-1.4.1.tar.gz (1.5 MB view hashes)

Uploaded source

Built Distribution

pdfx-1.4.1-py2.py3-none-any.whl (21.2 kB view hashes)

Uploaded py2 py3

Supported by

AWS AWS Cloud computing and Security Sponsor Datadog Datadog Monitoring Fastly Fastly CDN Google Google Download Analytics Microsoft Microsoft PSF Sponsor Pingdom Pingdom Monitoring Sentry Sentry Error logging StatusPage StatusPage Status page