How to Make a PDF Smaller on Mac (with Photos)

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How to Make a PDF Smaller on Mac (with Photos)

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.

compress pdf mac
Open Finder, find your file, right-click on it, select Open With, then Preview.


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.

compress pdf file mac
Click on File, then Export.


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!

compress pdf file mac
Click Reduce File Size, then save, and you’re all set!


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.

compress pdf file mac
Open Adobe Compress PDF.


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.

compress pdf file mac
Select your file.


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.

compress pdf file mac
Select your compression level and hit Compress.


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.

compress pdf file mac
Open Adobe Acrobat, and click Tools.


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.

compress pdf file mac
Click Reduce File Size



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.

compress pdf file mac
Set your compatibility and click OK.


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.

compress pdf file mac
Change your file’s name and hit Save.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is every PDF editable?

A PDF file is not automatically editable within Microsoft Word. However, modern versions of Microsoft Office will attempt to convert the PDF to Word format so that users may make changes. Although not a perfect process, it is one way someone could try to make changes to your document.

How many types of PDF are there?

PDF documents can be categorized into three different types, depending on the way the file originated. How it was created initially also defines whether the content of the PDF (text, images, tables) can be accessed or whether it is “locked” in an image of the page. The three main types are True or digitally created PDFs, Imag-only or scanned PDFs, and Searchable PDFs.

Is it risky to open a PDF?

Opening a malicious PDF can launch malware that will start up whatever process the hacker has in mind. With that in mind, try only to open PDF attachments from sources that you trust or know. A good rule of thumb is if you are not expecting to receive an attachment in an email, do not open it on your computer.

What is the main purpose of PDF?

It’s a versatile file format created by Adobe that gives people an easy, reliable way to present and exchange documents – regardless of the software, hardware, or operating systems being used by anyone who views the document.

Can you tell if a PDF has been manipulated?

Yes, changes can be made to PDFs. If you’re wondering whether a PDF sent for signature or review has been altered, Adobe Acrobat Pro Compare Files tool can inform you with a list of exactly what changes, if any, were made and when. We highly reccomend picking up Adobe Acrobat if you send PDFs for signatures or contracts.

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