Are you trying to save space on your Mac, or are you sending a PDF that is too large to be included as an email attachment? Luckily, we have to put together this guide to learn how to make a PDF smaller on Mac. Before continuing, we would like to point out that this process can reduce the quality of your PDF file. So, if you are concerned about losing too much quality, be sure not to compress too aggressively.
If you need to send the highest quality PDF possible, we suggest using a file-sharing service like Dropbox or WeTransfer for the best results. On a Mac, you have three different options to make a PDF smaller: the built-in app Preview, a conversion website like Adobe Compress PDF, or Adobe Acrobat, a paid software (but if you use PDFs a lot, the price is well worth it).
Let’s get into the super easy methods!
Method #1: Using Preview
This is the most direct way to make a PDF smaller on your Mac, but it does not give you a lot of control. Nevertheless, this method is an excellent option if you are looking to quickly compress a PDF to either save storage space or send a file over email.
Step 1. Open The PDF
In Finder, locate the PDF file you are looking to make smaller. Right-click on this file and select Open With, then from the drop-down menu, click on Preview.
Alternative method: open Preview then navigate to the top left-hand corner and tap on File. Click Open from the drop-down menu, then choose a file, and select Open Now in the bottom right side of Finder.
Step 2. Click on File
Now that you have the PDF open in Preview locate the toolbar at the top. In the top left corner, there should be an option called File. Click on it.
Step 3. Export
From the drop-down menu, click on Export. A box will pop up allowing you to change the name of the file. We recommend doing this to be sure it worked. You can call it something like test_PDF so you know what it is.
Step 4. Reduce File Size
Ensure PDF is one of the options. Sometimes it is preset to JPG or PNG. Select Reduce File Size from the menu where it reads Quartz Filter.
Click save. Your PDF is now compressed!
Check out the video below to see this method in action.
Method #2: Using Adobe Compress PDF
Adobe Compress PDF gives you a lot more control over how much you compress your PDF. If you find yourself going through the process of reducing a PDF file size a lot, it may be best to bookmark this page for easy access when you need it.
Step 1. Navigate to Adobe Compress
Use the browser of your choice and search for Adobe Compress PDF. You can also click on this link to go directly there.
Step 2. Choose Your File
You will see a blue button in the center of the site that says Select a file, which will open Finder on your Mac. Locate the PDF you want to compress, then select Open in the Finder window. The upload will start. Depending on the size of your file, it can take anywhere from seconds to a few minutes.
Step 3. Compress
Once the PDF has finished uploading, you’ll see three options to compress: High, Medium, and Low, and they work opposite to what you might guess.
- High: Most compression and has standard image quality
- Medium: Slightly less compression compared to high with better image quality
- Low: Least amount of compression and has the best image quality
Even though the High setting offers the lowest image quality of these options, note that the PDF will still look good in most use cases.
Step 4. Download
After you’ve made your selection, click on the Compress button (it’s blue in color). Shortly, you’ll be taken to a new window where you can download your compressed PDF file.
We recommend changing the name of the file before downloading, so you can quickly tell the difference between the compressed and non-compressed PDF files.
Method #3: Compressing with Adobe Acrobat
Adobe Acrobat is the most robust software to work with PDFs. Besides letting you reduce a file size easily, you can also compare for changes and protect PDFs with encryption.
Step 1. Open the Optimize PDF Tool
Open Adobe Acrobat and look for the Tools center. Select the Tools tab at the top left, and find the Optimize PDF tool.
Step 2. Select a File
Click on Open to open a Finder window. Locate the PDF file you want and then click Open in the bottom right-hand area of the Finder window.
Step 3. Click Reduce File Size
A top toolbar menu will open when the file opens in Acrobat. You will see an option that says Reduce File Size in the menu. It looks like a folded paper with pointed arrows from every corner. Click it.
Step 4. Set the Compatibility
Select the file compatibility from the Reduce File Size box. Typically, you can use version Retain Existing for optimal results.
Step 5. Rename Your File and Save it
In the Save As box, keep the same name to overwrite the original PDF with the compressed one, or to save both the original and the reduced PDF, create a new name or change the save location for your file. Click Save.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Gill_figueroa/Shutterstock.com.