If your document is in PDF format, it will most likely be in its final format, ready to wow your audience. It uses your highest quality graphics and presents the final version of your text, ready to be printed or shared with others for reading or distribution. This can mean a large file size, especially if it is a document with many images.
While you can edit the PDF, you will have to lower the quality to reduce the overall file size. If you want to know how to compress a PDF file, you can work around this problem by compressing the file instead of built-in or third-party software on Windows and Mac, or by using an online compression service.
How to compress a PDF on Windows with the PDF compression tool
Windows 10 doesn’t have built-in methods for compressing a PDF, unless you want to add it to the zip file first. This means that you need a third-party compression tool to compress the PDF file.
While there are several tools out there, one of the best options is Free PDF Compressor. This free application has been around for several years, but it is still one of the easiest and fastest ways to compress PDF files on Windows.
- First download, install and run Free PDF Compressor. In the Free PDF Compressor window, click the Browse button next to the PDF File option to select a file. Specify the location and name of the compressed file in the Output File field.
- In the “Settings” section you can set the desired quality of your PDF file. Screen is the lowest quality, while Printer and Print are the higher quality options. Select the quality level you want, then click Compress to start compressing the PDF.
- Free PDF Compressor will warn you when the file has finished compressing. Click OK to close.
Since Free PDF Compressor saves the compressed file as a separate file from the original, you can repeat the process at a higher quality if you are not satisfied with how the file is obtained.
How to compress a PDF on Mac using Preview
Unlike Windows, macOS includes built-in PDF compression as part of the Preview app for viewing images and documents. This application is found on all Macs and you can find it in the Launchpad application list.
- To compress a PDF on a Mac, open the Preview app and select the PDF you want to open. Once opened, click File> Export on the menu bar.
- From the export options menu, choose a new filename (or leave the existing filename to overwrite the existing file) and where to save the file. Select Reduce File Size from the Quartz Filter drop-down menu. When ready, click “Save” to start the compression process.
The preview will immediately save an updated compressed version of your PDF document. You will need to preview this later to see what (if any) noticeable quality changes have been made by the app.
Using online PDF compression services
If you don’t want to download additional software to compress your PDF file, you can use various online PDF compression services. However, if you want to use such an online service, you should only do so with non-confidential documents.
Using these services involves uploading a file to a remote server where the file can remain in place for a specified period of time. This poses a serious security risk to any documents that may contain personal data, and you should only use online compression sites for files that you are willing to publish.
There are various services for compressing PDF files on the Internet, such as I Love PDF However, most services work in a similar way, allowing you to download a file, select a quality, and then download a compressed file.
- To use I Love PDF, click the “Select PDF Files” button, click the button to select the PDF files you want to compress. You can also drag and drop files directly into the website window to download them automatically.
- After downloading the files, you can select the compression level in the right menu. The higher the compression ratio, the lower the quality of the output file (and vice versa). Choose Extreme Compression for the highest possible compression, Recommended Compression for moderate compression, but with acceptable quality, or Less Compression for the least compression, but for much higher quality. When you’re ready, click the Compress PDF button to start compressing.
- The PDF compression process ends on the remote server. Click the Download Compressed PDF button to download the compressed file as soon as it’s ready. The compression ratio (with the saved file space) will be shown below.
- If you want to save the file to cloud storage or share it with others using the I Love PDF service, you can use the share icons to the right of the download button. These include options for sending to Google Drive or Dropbox, and generating a QR code or link to send to other users.
- I Love PDF also has a delete option to remove the file from its servers. However, to delete the file, click the Delete icon. While this will disable the delete link on the I Love PDF website, it does not guarantee that the file will be completely removed from the site’s servers using this method.
As previously mentioned, you should not use services like I Love PDF for sensitive documents. For any type of sensitive document containing personal data, you should use a software option to compress the file, such as the Preview or Free PDF Compressor applications shown above.
Share and view compressed PDFs
Compressing PDF allows you to reduce the file size without reducing the quality too much (if you don’t want to). This makes it easy to share online, via email, or other file sharing services You can even password protect your PDF files to protect the content of sensitive documents from intruders.
If you are unable to open the PDF file, you will need to install a good PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat or Foxit Reader. If you need an online option, you can convert PDFs to Google Docs, which will allow you to view, edit, and share files from your web browser without first installing a third-party application.