How to Really Compress a Pdf File

Compressing a PDF file can backfire. By compressing a PDF file, you may end up making it bigger than before. Despite this, deciding whether to compress your PDF files or not can get tricky. Fortunately for you and I, we’re about to cut through the confusion.

Before going through the free pdf compresor, let’s start with an interesting fact about what is a pdf file. A PDF file is probably one of the most popular ways to present formatted text and graphics in a convenient format. There are many apps which can handle them, so you will be able to view your document on a computer and mobile devices as well.

Anyone who needs to send a document to someone by email or post it on the internet can use a pdf file. Compressing a pdf is important to save bandwidth. In this article, we will cover how to compress a pdf document and the benefits of doing so.

In general, though, there’s very little reason for PDFs to be hundreds of megabytes large unless they contain exhibits that absolutely must be saved as very high-resolution photographs. By following just a few simple steps, even filings that are hundreds of pages long can be brought down to meet requirements.

How to determine the size of your PDF document

If you’re using Adobe Acrobat, checking the size of your PDF is simple. Just click on File, then Properties. You’ll see lots of information about your document, including its size.

How to find the size of a PDF

Alternatively, you can navigate to the folder containing your document, right-click on it, and click Properties.

Larger files will take longer to upload, are cumbersome to share electronically (via email, for instance), and will use up your law firm’s file storage more rapidly. And even when the courts accept larger file sizes, they prefer to handle smaller, optimized files.

So, how should you set about reducing the size of your PDF documents? Here are five quick tips.

#1 Avoid scanning PDFs wherever possible

It’s a common misconception that, to create PDFs, or to combine multiple documents and exhibits into a single PDF, you need to print everything out and scan it together. Electronically converted files are generally much smaller in size than scans.

You only ever need to scan documents that exist in paper form only — all other documents can be electronically converted from the original file by saving them as PDFs. Furthermore, individual documents can be quickly combined as PDFs using software such as Adobe Acrobat, avoiding any need to print out documents to combine them.

#2 Save as “Reduced Size PDF”

If your file is still very large after you’ve created it electronically, rather than by scanning, there are still some steps you can take. The simplest is to re-save your file as a reduced-size PDF.

In the latest version of Adobe Acrobat, open the PDF you wish to re-save as a smaller file, choose FileSave as Other, and then Reduced Size PDF. You’ll be prompted to select the version compatibility you need and then you can click OK to save. We recommend setting your compatibility with at least Acrobat X, as that version is still widely used.

How to save as a reduced size PDF

This method is quick and simple but be warned that it will reduce the quality of images and will remove digital signatures. If you want more control over how your PDF is compressed in Acrobat, use the optimization method described below instead.

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#3 Use Adobe Acrobat’s PDF Optimizer

Sometimes you’ll want more control over which elements of your document are reduced in quality or removed. In these circumstances, you should choose the PDF optimizer tool.

Before you optimize a file, it’s a good idea to audit the file’s space usage — review which elements, such as fonts, images, and so on, are using the most data. The results of this may give you ideas about where best to reduce file size.

To begin optimization, open your PDF in Acrobat, click File, Save as Other, and then Optimized PDF. In the dialog box that appears, click on Audit space usage in the top right-hand corner. You’ll see a table of information a bit like this:

How to optimize a PDF

The optimizer gives you complete control over the elements of your PDF that will be compressed. Select the checkbox next to a panel (e.g. Images, Fonts), and then select options in that panel. There’s a lot of choices, so it’s worth reading through the Adobe help file to understand what each option does.

Okay, we know that not everyone uses Adobe Acrobat. What options are available to you if you’re using other software or only the basic Adobe Reader? Here are two more options for reducing the size of your PDF file if you’re not using Acrobat.

#4 Reduce the size as you save in Word

In Word, to convert a document to PDF, you use the Save As option. This option generally produces a fairly small file, depending on the number of images in your document. However, if you find that your Word-converted PDF is still too large, there is a further option in Word that will produce a significantly smaller file. Here’s how to use it:

Open the Word document you are going to convert to PDF. Click on the File button and then Save As. In the Save as type menu, select PDF and enter your preferred file name. Here’s the extra step: where it says Optimize for at the bottom of the dialog box, select Minimum size (publishing online).

How to compress a PDF in Word

#5 Use a print-to-PDF tool

Other (non-Adobe) PDF tools generally contain features that will reduce the size of your PDF. However, if you’re looking for a free option, there are some available. Currently, the most downloaded free PDF creator (according to is PrimoPDF.

Once you’ve installed PrimoPDF, simply open the PDF you wish to compress (in Acrobat Reader, or a web browser, for example), press Ctrl+P to open the print dialog, select PrimoPDF from the list of available printers, and then click Create PDF.

Note that this method, like simply saving as a reduced-size PDF in Adobe Acrobat, reduces image quality and resolution.

4Dots Free PDF Compress

This freeware application enables you to compress single or multiple PDFs in one fell swoop. You’re also able to compress entire folders of PDFs with just a few clicks of the mouse, even if the PDFs are password protected.

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Once you’ve selected which files you want to compress (drag and drop is supported), select the location where you want the smaller files to be saved. You can overwrite the old file or save a copy. Hit Compress and the tool will do all the work for you. Our five sample PDFs took a few minutes to compress and came out 11.5MB or 29.5% smaller.

Adobe Acrobat Pro

Adobe Acrobat DC Optimize PDF reduce file size menu

If you have Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer, there’s a tool within the application called “PDF Optimizer”. This is one of the best and easiest ways to shrink a PDF document.

To get to this, open your PDF in Acrobat, click Tools > Optimize PDF. A toolbar with a few options will appear just above the PDF.

If you click Reduce File Size, you can choose to reduce a single or multiple files. Next, you’ll choose the file location and name. Once you click Save, Acrobat will apply default settings to your file to attempt to reduce its size.

If you click Advanced Optimization, you’ll have more options to ensure you maintain the quality you need. To help with this, in the Advanced Optimization window, click Audit Space Usage, and you’ll be able to see how much space each kind of element is taking up within the file.

Using default setting, our sample file shrunk from 11,775KB to only 212KB, making Adobe Acrobat Pro one of the most effective PDF compressor in this list. It’s a paid tool, after all, but there was one free tool that performed better with default settings. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC will set you back $14.99 per month, but you can get a 7-day free trial.


DocuPub Neevia PDF settings options

If you want more control over the quality of your compressed PDF, try DocuPub’s NeeviaPDF (for files less than 24 MB in size).

To keep things simple, you can choose one of the presets, which range from low compression (for a higher image quality) to maximum compression (for a lower image quality). You’re also given the option to discard certain elements from within your PDF. This includes things like forms, annotations, and page labels, which can unnecessarily increase the size of the file.

Our sample PDF lost 98% of its size, clocking in at only 203KB, down from 11,775KB. This was the smallest we achieved in our tests, and the result looked just fine. How much of the original PDF you want to discard depends on how much space you really need to save.

Windows PDF Tools

Windows 10 finally includes an option to print-to-PDF. However, advanced features, like tweaking the quality and size of a document, are not part of this feature. Meanwhile, many PDF printers let you choose quality and compression settings, which can greatly influence the size of your PDF files.


FreePDF is a classic PDF printer, and we highlight it here because it allows you to create your own compression profiles. Once installed (remember that you need GhostScript), you’ll find it listed as part of your Windows printers.

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To reduce the size of a PDF document with FreePDF, open it, press Ctrl + P to launch the print dialog, choose FreePDF as your printer, click OK, and wait for the FreePDF dialog to pop up. Here, you can choose from three preset PDF profiles, including eBook, High Quality, and Medium Quality.

How to email large PDF files.

Need to send a large file? Learn how to email multi-page PDFs for free from any computer.

Most email platforms limit file sizes to around 20MB. If you need to send a PDF that’s larger than 20MB, you’ll have to make the file smaller or find another way to share your PDF. Here’s the best way to compress large PDFs to make them more email friendly.

Compress PDF files.

File compression involves taking the original PDF and compressing the data, so the total file size is smaller. By compressing PDFs, you can reduce the file size between 20 and 30 percent, making it possible to email large PDF files without compromising quality or readability.

How to compress PDFs online for free.

It might sound like a project to compress data in a PDF, but it’s actually quite easy with an online PDF editor like Adobe Acrobat online services. With an online PDF editor, you can compress PDFs up to 2GB in four easy steps:

  1. Go to the Acrobat online PDF editor.
  2. Upload the file you want to compress.
  3. Let the software do its magic.
  4. Download the compressed file to your device.

Online PDF editors let you compress PDFs quickly and easily from any device. Since the entire process is done online, there’s no need to download software or worry about compatibility issues. Plus, it’s completely free.

Once you download the compressed PDF, you can email the file without fighting error messages for going over the file size limit.


A PDF file (Portable Document Format) can be easily transferred to other people who are using the same device, or they can view it without having the Adobe Acrobat application. You can send or email a PDF document to other people without worrying that they don’t use the right tools. But you must be careful. The file size of a PDF document is usually bigger than other image formats such as PNG or JPG. It takes more time to send and receive it.

Resize PDF files in Acrobat, obtain better compression and reduce takes PDF documents can be quite a burdensome to send over the internet or share via email. When you’re working with large size documents it is essential that you compress them to make sure they are downloadable and accessible on any computer or mobile device. It’s easy to reduce PDF file size in Adobe Reader. The program has some options that allow users to ensure that the file doesn’t take up too much data space.

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