Many PDF documents contain a hierarchical table of contents. I am not referring to the ToC visible on a page-- what I mean is the metadata that is used to generate the sidebar links when viewing a PDF with an app like Preview. How can I extract it? I am not looking for a GUI app, as I am going to be extracting this information from many documents with a script.

  • Can you ask this in a way which doesn't sound like you are asking for a software recommendation? superuser.com/help/on-topic – krowe Mar 10 '15 at 0:00
  • @krowe Hmm well I think the best I can do is remove "with a command line tool or something similar". I will be happy with a software recommendation, but I am also open to a more general description of how to access this metadata. I feel that this is a concrete, well-scoped question that meets the posting criteria. It just happens that the answer may involve a software recommendation. – Sean Mackesey Mar 10 '15 at 0:06

The python package pdfminer is able to extract this information. Use the dumppdf.py script that comes with the package.

dumppdf.py -T /path/to/my/PDF

Produces XML of the table of contents.

NOTE: Credit @krowe for linking the source of this answer in the comments.

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