How to Compress a PDF

Since its introduction in 1991, the Portable Document Format, or PDF, has become an integral part of the tech universe. The PDF standard makes it easier to share documents between different operating systems and devices, while preserving the content and layout of those documents. This is because PDFs can’t be altered the way standard word processing files (like a Microsoft Word document) can. The ubiquity of free PDF readers (including Adobe’s Acrobat Reader) means everyone has easy access to PDF files.
If you work with PDF files, then you know that they can quickly grow to an unwieldy size, especially if they contain graphics and images. Thankfully, you can compress PDFs like you would any other type of file. This makes sending your file as an email attachment or uploading it to a website much easier. Below, we’ve outlined how to compress a PDF using Adobe Acrobat and Preview (Mac OS).

Using Adobe Acrobat’s PDF Optimizer

  1. First, open Acrobat and find the file that you’d like to compress by going to the File tab on the top bar and clicking “Open”. Locate your file within the directory. 
  2. Then, select “Save As Other” from the main File menu, and choose “Reduced Size PDF”. 

Using Preview (Mac OS)

  1. First, open your PDF in Preview by double-clicking on it in the Finder menu. By default, PDF files open in Preview unless you have Adobe Reader or a third party PDF viewer installed. If that is the case, right click on the PDF, select “Open With” and choose Preview.
  2. Next, select “Export” from the File menu. This will bring up a dialog box.
  3. Click the Quartz Filter option and select “Reduce File Size”.
  4. Click “Save”. If you do not rename this file, a dialog box will appear asking if you want to replace the original document. This will overwrite the current document. 

Using an Online Compression Tool

When learning how to compress a PDF, there are plenty of free tools available, and some are entirely web-based. For example, is a user-friendly option that works on any web browser and operating system.  

  1. First, load the page on your web browser.
  2. Then, select the “Compress PDF” square at the top left of the page.
  3. Locate your file within its directory and drag it onto the “Drop PDF here” section.
  4. Once your file is done uploading and compressing, click “Download File Now”.

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