Installation and activation of pdfToolbox Server/CLI

pdfToolbox CLI (command line interface) offers a wide range of options to analyze, correct and enhance PDF files as well as impositioning features and color conversion.
For activating the SDK (software developer kit), please visit this page.

System requirements

The command line version of pdfToolbox is available for the following operating systems:

  • Mac (Intel): macOS, version 10.7 or newer, 64-bit-compliant
  • Windows:
    • Windows 7 or newer
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 or newer
  • Linux: The minimum required Linux OS versions are shown below (Linux OS versions with a higher number are always supported as well):
    • Debian 7 (and derivates like Ubuntu 12.x )
    • RedHat RHEL6 (and derivates like CentOS6)
    • SuSE SLES11 (and derivates like OpenSuSE11)
    • Note: other Linux distributions are also supported as well if the version of the glibc is at least v2.12. Please use the ldd --version command to find out the version of glibc that comes with your Linux system.
  • Solaris (Sparc and Intel): Solaris 11 (v5.11)  or newer
  • AIX (PPC): AIX  6.1 (oslevel 6100-09) or newer

You can easily test if pdfToolbox CLI is working on your system: Just type pdfToolbox --help in the terminal.

There are 64 bit versions of pdfToolbox CLI available for MacOS, Windows and Linux.  pdfToolbox CLI does also run on 64 bit systems if the required 32 bit compatibility packages are available.

at least 2 GB RAM
at least 10 GB of free Disk Space

Hardware recommendations

pdfToolbox does not have extensive hardware requirements, so a decent computer should usually satisfy for processing PDF files. Concrete requirements depend very much on the complexity of the files and the operations to be performed. Some general recommendations are:

  • For any PDF processes (checking and/or fixing) information about all PDF objects has to be available to the engine. The size of the RAM memory needs to be big enough for all such objects. If possible the size of the RAM should be not too small, especially for complex PDF files with many pages.
  •  Any operations will include reading and writing to "disc". Faster storage devices therefore speed up the process and processing will take advantage of using SSDs or similar.
  •  pdfToolbox allows for parallel processing. This will, however, only result in faster processing if the number of cores is higher than the number of parallel processes. It is recommended to have at least one additional core for system processes.



Dual-Core Processor
160 GB SATA hard disc


Quad-Core Processor

Installing the software


To install the software start the pdfToolbox Server installer. The installation program will then take you through the necessary steps.


Extract all files from the archive to a destination folder of your choice.
For automation purposes you should set the PATH variable to the path of the pdfToolbox CLI executable.

Additional information is provided in <pdfToolbox CLI directory>/ReadMe.txt

Request activation

Before callas pdfToolbox CLI can be used, the software has to be activated.

Request an activation code

Open a terminal window and change to your pdfToolbox CLI installation directory. Type:

pdfToolbox --keycode [--aws] <name> <company> <licenseCode>


Name of licensee (e.g. "Registered User")
Name of company (e.g. "User's company")
Licence key obtained from the registration card or the License.pdf provided by callas or the reseller.
For installation on Amazon Web Services (using Windows, Linux 32bit and 64bit)

The textual output of --keycode has to be send via e-mail to the e-mail address named in the text in order to receive an activation code from the registration server.

To make a request for a trial version, please use the keyword "trial" (for a pdfToolbox trial version) for this parameter.

Activating pdfToolbox CLI

After receiving the automatic reply e-mail from the activation server, save the attached 'activation file' to the file system. Then use the following command:

pdfToolbox --activate <activation file>

If no response is received or in the event of an error, please contact to determine the exact cause.

Please note:
The Activation.pdf (or the content of the e-mail) can only be used for activation for 48 hours.
After this timeframe, a new Activation.pdf has to be requested from the activation server.


activation file
Full path to Activation PDF

If your SPAM filter has removed the attachment, you can create a new empty text file and copy all lines from the e-mail that are starting with an "@" into the text file. Save it as a UTF-8 encoded plain text file with the name “Activation.txt". This text file can now be used in the exact same fashion as described above for the Activation PDF.

It is necessary to activate the received license file to get a permantent valid license file.

The license file received from the activation server must be activated within the timeframe listed in the license file.

The activated license file will be stored in the user-preferences when the normal activation (command above) is used.

To create an activated license file at a custom location, just use the following command:

pdfToolbox --activate <licence file> -o=<path to result folder/License.txt>

pdfToolbox CLI is searching for the license file at various folders:

  • user-preferences-folder of actual user
  • next to the pdfToolbox CLI binary
  • cachefolder (if set)
  • user-preferences-folder for all users (shared)

When using UNIX-based-systems the environment variable CALLAS_SYSTEM_PREFERENCES the path of the standard /usr/share/callas software/callas pdfToolbox CLI can be changed:


would result in the searchpath: /tmp/callas software/callas Toolbox CLI 

It is highly recommended to use the option --cachefolder instead.

Time-limited trial version

After requesting and entering a trial activation code, pdfToolbox CLI can be tested without any restrictions. When the evaluation period has expired, processing PDF files will no longer be possible until you request and enter a new activation code.

Activation using the Standalone application

Using Windows and MacOS, also the activation dialog of the Standalone Application can be used for requesting an activation as well as using a Keycode or just for a trial version. Also the activation itself can be done using that Interface.

All activations (for Desktop, Server as well as for the DeviceLink Addons) can be done using this dialog.

Deactivate pdfToolbox using the CLI

As the activation (and the resulting license file) is bound to the hardware. It is necessary to deactivate a license on one machine before an activation takes place on the new machine.

pdfToolbox --deactivate <activation code>
activation code
Unique identifier for each license

The respective license will be removed from the system

To complete the deactivation, the output of the command has to be sent manually to the activation server by e-mail.

The activation code for all license are listed using the status command:

pdfToolbox --status

Deactivation using the Standalone application

Similar to the deactivation using the CLI, the Desktop on Windows and MacOS can be used for deactivation.

The selected license will be removed from the system as well and the necessary e-mail to the activation server will be sent automatically.

Now that you have installed pdfToolbox CLI, you can continue watching this video on pdfToolbox CLI:


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