How To Reduce PDF File Size

PDF (Portable Document Format) files are very commonly used and they can be loaded with pictures and stunning graphics which make the file format very presentable as well as appealing. This has an adverse effect too, as this makes the file size really bulky which can make any email service sluggishly incompetent when trying to send such files.  There are a number of methods to avoid this and to reduce the file size of any hefty PDF file. Let’s take a look at a few of those methods.

PDF Converters

There are a horde of PDF conversion programs and applications available for download in the internet. One of the most widely used is PrimoPDF which can be downloaded for free.  Applications like these generally install a virtual printer to user’s computer, and allow users to create or save a PDF instead of actually printing it via the physical printer. After installing an application like PrimoPDF, the following steps can help reducing a PDF file size.

  • Open the PDF file with any PDF reader.
  • Once the application window opens, click on File and select Print. When prompted in the printer selection menu, choose PrimoPDF as the desired printing device.
    primoPDF image
  • Then click on the Properties button. Now, based on which application the user is using, different options will pop up in the screen. Users will have to choose an optimum setting which maintains readability but reduces the size of the file.
  • Once the desired settings have been selected, click on the Print button. This will open a ‘Save As’ dialogue box where users can choose the location where they want the file to be saved. This file will have a much reduced file size as compared to the original PDF.

Online Tools

There are a number of online PDF conversion tools available for free use. The process is simple as users have to just upload the file to the site, choose their setting and then download the smaller file in their computer locally. The main drawback of these online tools is that they only support smaller file sizes within 5-10 MB. There are although, a few exceptions like SmallPDF.

  • Open the particular website for the online tool to be used.
  • There will be a button to upload the file users want to compress. A ‘Choose File’ window will pop up, where users will have to locate the particular file they want to compress and upload it.
    smallPDF image
  • Uploading a file should not take long but it depends on the user’s internet connection. Once uploaded, compression takes place automatically. This might take a few minutes.
  • Once the compression is complete and the original file size is reduced, the website will send back the file to the user. Depending on the user’s browser settings, it will either be downloaded automatically to the default download folder, or users will have to choose where they want to save the new file.

This will work for only non-compressed PDF files. If a PDF file is already optimized and compressed, these tools will not compress it even further. A PDF file can only be reduced in size to a certain limit till it is optimized.

Acrobat Reader

PDF files can also be compressed using the ‘Reduced Size’ command in Acrobat Reader but the free version of this software will not have this option.

  • First we launch Acrobat Reader and open the desired PDF.
  • Then we click ‘Save As’ from under ‘File’ menu. This will open a new sub-menu from where we select ‘Reduced Size PDF’. This can also be accessed from the document menu.
    adobe-acrobat reader image
  • Then a window prompts users to select which versions of Acrobat they want the file to be compatible to. Selecting a newer version will comparatively reduce the file size more, but then the file will not be accessible by older versions of the software.
  • Users can also select multiple PDF files for compression at once by clicking the ‘Apply to Multiple’ button and then choosing the additional files.
  • Then we choose the output folder preference and provide a filename for the new file and ‘Save’ it. This will save a compressed file or files into the destination folder we selected.

PDF Optimizer Tool

PDF Optimizer Tool provides a much finer control when it comes to compression of PDF files. It works much better as it removes any unwanted data, compresses images and removes embedded and duplicate fonts. The default settings generally work the best, but users are recommended to check the quality of optimization to make sure they are readable and printable after the conversion.

  • First we open the PDF file we want to compress using the PDF Optimizer Tool.
  • From the application screen, we click on ‘Save As’ under the File menu and then select ‘Optimized PDF’.
  • We then click on ‘Audit space usage’ in the next window to see a detailed summary of what is taking up the space in the file. Each aspect, from the font to the pictures, will be denoted by bytes and the percentage of space they are taking.
    pdf-optimizer image
  • We can either leave the settings to default, or optimize them as per our needs. Users have the option to fine tune the settings or to not optimize certain aspects by checking or un-checking the tick boxes provided.
  • There is also a menu on the left hand side which lets users change font, transparency and color image settings as per their needs.
  • Once all the settings has been selected, press ‘OK’ to start compression. Users can save the file or they can also go back to check the converted file size from ‘Audit space storage’.

File Compression using ZIP

File compression using a dedicated program into ZIP is not very handy and it not recommended. A number of such programs and applications can be easily downloaded from the internet but they do not reduce the file size to a great extent. The biggest problem with these applications is that if the converted files are to be shared with another user, then the recipient will have to have the same program to unzip and view the file. 7Zip is a free tool and mostly widely used along with others like WinRAR which although very popular, only provides a 40-day free trial after which users will have to buy the software.

Google Drive

PDF files can also be compressed to reduce file size using Google Drive.

  • Users first need to sign in to their Google account and open Google Drive.
  • Then the file to be compressed is uploaded to the drive and opened using the browser.
    Google drive print page image
  • Once the file has opened in the browser, ask it to print and click on ‘Save As’ to set the location where the reduced file is to be saved.
  • Once the save location is set, the file should be compressed and downloaded in the selected folder.

These are some proper ways to compress file size of a PDF file. Some of them are more efficient than the others but what really matters is how the user optimizes the settings for the compression. We should also remember that a file has a limit to which it can be compressed. Trying to compress it over and over will not keep reducing the file size.