How to Shrink PDF File Size

If you work with PDF files, you know how they can become very large very quickly if they contain graphics and images. Luckily, you can compress PDF files like you can compress any other type of file, which can mean big savings in the size of your PDF file.

In this post, I will try to show you a couple of methods to reduce the size of a PDF file. If you have Adobe Acrobat (which is not free), you can try out methods 4 and 5, which work really well. There is also a way to reduce PDF file size on Mac OS X specifically, which is Method 3.

Method 1 –

The simplest way to shrink your PDF file is to use a free online tool called The site is super clean (not filled with spammy ads, etc) and it does a pretty good job of reducing the size of large PDF files.


What’s nice is that you can use it anywhere or any operating system and it even supports the new drag and drop feature of HTML 5, which is a nice convenience. It was able to take a 500 KB file and shrink it down to about 368 KB. Not too bad, however, on the Mac (Method 2), I was able to get that same PDF down to only 82 KB.

Another online tool I use to compress PDF files is Neevia Compress PDF. It has a bunch of options and some presets like high compression, low image quality or low compression, high image quality, etc.

compress pdf

In addition, you can remove bookmarks, remove PDF layers, remove annotations, remove page labels and manually adjust the quality for color and monochrome image compression.

Method 2 – PDF Compressor

PDF Compressor is a free program you can download for Windows XP/Vista/7/8 that lets you quickly and effectively reduce the size of one or many PDF files.

pdf compressor

It supports lossless compression, so you should not see any reduction in the quality of the PDF. It also supports encrypted PDF documents and can work on a batch of hundreds or even thousands of PDF files at once.

Method 3 – OS X PDF Filter

If you have a Mac, there is a great and easy way to significantly reduce the size of a PDF file using the built in Preview app. Firstly, open your PDF file in Preview by just double-clicking on it in Finder. By default, PDF files will open in Preview unless you installed Adobe Reader or a third-party PDF viewer. In that case, just right-click and choose Open With.

Now, click on File and then click on Export.

export pdf

You’ll get a pop-up dialog and one of the options at the bottom is Quartz Filter. Click on the drop down and select Reduce File Size.

reduce file size

Click Save and you’re done. I was able to get a PDF file from 500 KB down to only 82 KB using this filter. If you want to fine-tune it, you can open the ColorSync Utility. Just press Command + Spacebar and start typing colorsync. Then, click on Filters and click on Reduce File Size. Note that adjusting settings here is only useful if you have a lot of high resolution images in your PDF file.

colorsync utility

Here you can remove all values from Image Sampling and  enter a value for Resolution. If you only need the PDF to view on a computer, 72 pixels/inch will greatly reduce the size of your PDF if the images are large. You can also play around with the Image Compression and see what type of benefit you get.

Method 4– Print to Adobe PDF

The easiest way to try and shrink a PDF file is to perform a little trick, which basically is printing the PDF document to a PDF file. Sounds strange? It is. Basically, you open the PDF file in Adobe Reader and print it to the Adobe PDF printer.

A lot of time this works really well and will significantly reduce the size of your PDF file. When you go to File – Print, choose Adobe PDF from the drop down list of printers:

shrink pdf

Amazingly enough, I’ve been able to shrink a 20 MB PDF file down to 3 MB just by using this method. Not really sure what it does to shrink it, but it works, especially if you have a good number of images that are eating up a lot of space.

Method 5 – Adobe Acrobat PDF Optimizer

Since version 7 of of Adobe Acrobat, there is a new option in the Advanced menu called PDF Optimizer.

adobe PDF optimizer

Now you’ll be brought to a screen that has a whole bunch of options to configure!

optimize pdf file size

Click on the Audit space usage button in the top right to get a detailed listed of each component of the PDF file and exactly how much space it is using:

audit space usage adobe

As you can see, there are six different things you can do to make a PDF file smaller including optimizing or down-scaling images, reconfiguring scanned pages, adjusting fonts, adjusting transparency, discarding objects, and cleaning up the PDF file.

Under Images, for example, you can downsample and compress the images to save space. This is really useful, especially if your images are at a really high resolution. If the PDF file doesn’t need to be printed, you can reduce the quality and number of pixels per inch. For viewing on the screen, you only need 72 pixels.

reduce image size pdf

If you scanned a bunch of pages into your PDF, then click on the Scanned Pages option and mess around with the sliding bar, which goes from Small Size to High Quality. Adjust as needed.

optimize scanned pages

The Discard Objects and Discard User Data are two really useful cleanup options for PDF files. You can basically get rid of all the extra junk that is normally stored in every PDF file. You can remove tags, flatten form fields, etc.

discard objects pdf optimizer

discard user data pdf

For Discard User Data, you can get rid of comments, document information, metadata, object data, file attachments, data from other applications, and more.

Finally, the Clean Up tab does a few more housekeeping tasks like compressing the entire file and optimizing the PDF for fast web view.

clean up pdf file

The best thing to do is to play around with all the settings to see what works best for your particular PDF file. Hopefully, one of the five methods above will get your PDF file to a reduced size that you can attach to an email or post to a website. If you use a different method not mentioned above for shrinking your PDF files, let us know in the comments. Enjoy!

Comments [60]

  1. Thanks for the great info! PDF Optimizer was way better than the print method you mentioned. I was able to reduce the size of my PDF file from ~45 MB to under 10 MB! Woot!

  2. Thank you so much for this posting! I actually learned quite a bit of information! The PDF Optimizer is a wonderful tool. Thank you!

  3. nice post. Good level of PDF compression there 🙂

  4. I have got Adobe version 8 but it has no advanced menu nor PDF Optimizer available and no adobe pdf printer option then what should I use to compress the PDF files?

  5. Incredibly useful! Printing to PDF worked like a dream. Thank you!

  6. EXACTLY what I needed – both processes worked beautifully. Thank you!! It shrunk from 38M to 7M!!!

  7. Simply superb!! I can't believe this actually worked! Just by printing the PDF, it shrunk from 120 MB to just under 30! wow!

  8. I have Adobe Acrobat 6.0, open a PDF file and try to print, but the list of printers does not appear for the pdf! So it is impossible to do what was said.

  9. Wow… Thanks for the tips…my PDFs are a lot smaller now!

  10. Thanks for the info! With first print and then optimize I reduced a scanned pdf from 7.5 MB to 540 KB.

  11. I tried printing it to a PDF with Adobe Acrobat 8.1. It reduced the file size from 88 MB to 278 kb….the problem is now, the map (the file), when zoomed in on, has lousy resolution and is barely readable. This is a one-page forest map. Is there a way to adjust the resolution to something in the say, 5 mb size range?

  12. thanks for this tutorial, it's brilliant! My PDF is way smaller and it took 2 mins.

  13. I just started a new job- only have Adobe Standard 8.0 and I am used to working w/Adobe Professional AND the pdf optimizer!

    This helpful hint to "print" via pdf some how "magically" worked!

    THANKS so much for sharing! Adobe's help section only mentions "document, reduce file size" and that just wasn't cuttin' it!

  14. Thank you very much! It was able to reduce the size of my PDF greatly.

  15. I tried the steps you have mentioned and my PDF file size increased from 2MB to 3.7MB, interesting huh!!

  16. I cannot find any adobe pdf in my drop down list of printers. Where can i find this or where to install? Thank you.

  17. I printed my document to Adobe PDF and saved it as you suggested and my file is now a third of the size, and the quality is just as good. Thanks so much!

  18. I do not have either pdf printer, advanced option or pdf optimiser…please help. I am having abode reader 9

  19. This hint is useless. Which "advanced menu" you mean. Is it under "file edit view document tools window help". Nowhere to be found. I dont have any "advanced" in these.

    Also shrinking by printing fails. I have the alterna tives "pdfconverter" that makes .ps files Or "MS XPS document writer". No such alts you said. Adobe reader V9. No updates available.

  20. The size of my file increased as well… Does anyone have any other tips for reducing file size?

  21. Printing the PDF to another file worked great.. the file went from 42 to less than 20…


  22. the printing method worked like a charm…reduced a 10mb file to 250kb 🙂 thank you!

  23. This is great. I actually found another website that is really helpful in compressing pdf files and you might want to add to your list. They have a trial version you can download and an online converter. You should definitely check it out.

  24. On Acrobat 7 (full Acrobat, not Reader), I was able to reduce file size somewhat with "Print Setup" for the Acrobat printer.

    But by far the greatest reduction was if I opened the file with "gsview" instead of Acrobat (gsview is a free download, open source). Use File –> Convert, and fiddle with the settings. I converted once, then re-opened the new file and converted again. Slight reduction in quality, but great reduction in size.

  25. u need to have adobe acrobat pro, to use "file optimiser"

    its available for trail for 30 days and can be downloaded in adobe site….

    the idea works


  26. For me the doPDF7 MASSIVELY increased the file size. And on one of my .jpg images it split it from 4 to 1 pages.

  27. Thanks dear its very very useful! I use this and reduced my PDF file from 14mb to 4.5mb within a minute. thanks for your cooperation

  28. Muuuuito bom este post… me ajudou d+, consegui reduzir de 36 para 17 mgbs…

    agora posso enviar pelo meu email rsrs


  29. Wow! Thank-you so much … that worked wonders for my PDF file.

    Really appreciate the screen shots too–very helpful!


  30. Sweet article! Reduced my 40mb PDF to 3.5mb – not much quality loss considering the dramatic reduction!


  31. Printing to Microsoft XPS makes it even smaller. I did 25mb files into 600kb files by using "shrink to print area." This solution is available to nearly every Microsoft machine without paying for anything.

  32. Thanks so much for the info! The Optimizer brought me from 19 MB down to 494 KB! I really appreciate it!

  33. The PDF Optimizer totally worked! Thank you so much for walking us through it! You saved the day!

  34. Thanks – mine went from 40 to 13! WOOOOOO!

  35. After struggling with plotting an image in AutoCAD for hours, this was what finally worked! Thank you for simple instructions.

  36. Fantastic – who would've thought it! I have ABBYY PDF Transformer installed and created a PDF by printing a JPEG from Windows Picture and Fax Viewer to PDF XChange for ABBYY. Then by opening the PDF in Acrobat Reader and printing again to ABBYY, I reduced that file size by 75% on average. Maybe lost a little resolution, but what the hell – at least I can email it now!

    Thanks a million.

  37. Thank you so much for this information. I spent the better part of a day day trying to reduce a file. I've never had a problem before but it just wouldn't work. I came across this information and it worked perfectly.

    Thank you so much.

  38. great! i used the first tip, in combination with cute pdf, as the 'printer' and saved it. it reduced the size of the pdf by a third!!

  39. Whoever you are random computer guy, the world is a better place because of your existence – thanks for helping me optimize my human capital!

  40. Hi,

    Thanks – this was really helpful. My 150 MB file came down to 9 MB only by changing image quality.


  42. Works like a charm. thnx for the info. I was able to compress 190mb to 14mb. (it was a scanned document wich was scanned to good i think :P)


  43. I can realy recommende this excellent tips how to shrink the PDF-file inside Acrobat software itself! No furture extra software isn´t neccesery and I have several time used this method #1 several times and I do shrink 75MB-100MB PDF-Files down to only a fraction of it original filesize = Original size: 95MB After shrinking with method #1 the compressed/shriked size are ONLY: 2MB!!! THAT is realy a quality-shrinking with a "GIVE ME A HIGH FIVE"! 🙂

  44. THANK YOU!!!!! Just about the BEST way to shrink a very large pdf file, trust me, i’ve tried EVERYTHING, finally last night after almost giving up I searched one more time and your post showed up! I can’t thank you enough, printing in Adobe pro shrank my file A LOT! I will forever be grateful to you! 🙂

  45. Legend! you just saved me a whole lot of time.

  46. THANK YOU! Just about the BEST way to shrink a very large pdf file, trust me, i’ve tried EVERYTHING, finally last night after almost giving up I searched one more time and your post showed up! I can’t thank you enough, printing in Adobe pro shrank my file A LOT! I will forever be grateful to you!

  47. Works! My file went from 160MB to 6.1MB. Superb. Thanks for the tip

  48. Thanks a lot 4 the help. It worked on my PDF.

  49. I discovered a great site for that you don’t even need to set any configurations! I got 82% compression. Have a look at: Does it work for you too?

  50. Print to PDF – so simple but so effective. I got 100KB off of my file size.


  51. Thank you very much. My PDF can now fit in the email I was trying to send. The world needs more people like you.

  52. It seems effective for larger files, but not smaller ones. I tried it on a 9MB PDF file and it became 11MB using the Mac method. However, when I tried it on a large 100MB+ file, it reduced it significantly. Any suggestions for reducing the size of a smaller PDF file?

  53. Thanks so much for the helpful advice. Method 3 worked perfectly for me!

  54. Same here, method 3 is actually growing the file by 10% and I can’t see where to print to PDF. Word is taking a 40 k file and blowing it up to 5.5 M when I do a save as pdf. This sucks! Cannot email now! Guess I will buy acrobat? Hate to do that over one weird document!

  55. Another free online compressor is I did get better results (better means smaller) than with the other online tools. But it does have size limit for uploads. In this regard smallpdf with its unlimited upload size is better.

  56. Method 4 worked fabulously. I printed to the Bullzip PDF printer and it worked like a charm. Thank you.

  57. Thanks so much, you are a lifesaver! It’s people like you who make the internet a happier place overall.

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