Making PDF’s Smaller for Free in Mac OSX!

I was recently helping a friend with her web site and she wanted to upload a PDF of her brochure for her potential clients; which normally isn’t a big deal, and relatively simple to do. But as with anything, there was an unexpected problem.

The brochure was a simple 2 page document made in Microsoft Word, but the problem was the file size of the PDF that came out of Microsoft Word. The generated PDF file was 7mb, which was far too large to be a worthwhile download for such a small document. The question was, how to make the file smaller without shelling out any money for additional tools, such as the real full blown version of Adobe Acrobat?

Luckily, Apple always seems to somehow hide goodies within OSX, and one such goodie is right in the Preview application! You can actually shrink PDF files down right from the Preview App and I’m going to show you how to do it.

For my tutorial, I’ll take my original PDF of my old 1984 Electronics Game Magazine, which was 9mb when I finished assembling all the pages.

First I open the large PDF by simply double clicking it, which be default, shows the PDF in the OSX Preview application.

Next we simply go to the FILE menu and select SAVE AS.

Preview App, Save File As

When the SAVE AS dialog box comes up, simply choose the REDUCE FILE SIZE option in the QUARTZ FILTER pulldown.

Now simply name your file appropriately, and click SAVE.

In my case, the file was reduced from 9mb to 7mb, not too bad, but still big. But then again, this is a 33 page PDF file that’s full of scanned images. In the case of my friend’s 2 page brochure, I was able to drop the file size from 7mb down to 350K with no visual degradation in quality, now that’s an impressive savings!

In the end, your milage will vary depending on the type of PDF you’re trying to shrink, but it’s not a bad option for something that’s already available on your computer. I hope you found this tutorial helpful, thanks for reading.