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

Need to shrink down the size of a PDF on your Mac? You‘ve come to the right place. In this detailed guide, I‘ll walk you through several methods to compress PDFs while maintaining quality.

We‘ll cover using Preview for quick compression, the Adobe online tool for more control, and Acrobat for maximum optimization. I‘ll also provide tips to get the best results.

By the end, you‘ll be a pro at making PDFs smaller for easy sharing and storage! Let‘s get started.

Overview of PDF Compression Methods

Here‘s a quick overview of the PDF compression methods we‘ll cover:

Method Pros Cons
Preview – Built-in Mac app
– Fast and easy
– Least control over compression
Adobe Compress – More compression options
– Free online access
– Need internet connection
Adobe Acrobat – Maximum compression control
– Advanced PDF tools
– Paid software subscription

Preview provides a quick compression option using the default Mac app. The Adobe online tool gives you more control over quality and size reduction. For the most optimization settings, Acrobat is the most powerful choice.

The method you choose depends on your specific needs and how often you work with PDFs. Now let‘s look at how to use each one.

How to Compress PDFs with Preview

Preview is the built-in Mac app for viewing images, PDFs and more. It also provides a quick way to make PDF files smaller right within the app.

Here are the step-by-step instructions for compressing a PDF with Preview:

Step 1: Open the PDF in Preview

First, find the PDF you want to compress in Finder. Right click on the file and select "Open With" > "Preview" from the pop-up menu.

Alternatively, you can launch Preview first. Go to File > Open in the menu bar and browse to choose your PDF file.

Step 2: Click on File in the Menu Bar

With your file now open in Preview, click on "File" in the menu bar at the top of your screen. This will open a drop-down menu.

Step 3: Choose Export from the Dropdown Menu

From the File menu, select "Export…" to open an export dialog box.

Step 4: Pick Reduce File Size

In the export dialog, verify "PDF" is selected as the file format. Then choose "Reduce File Size" from the Quartz Filter dropdown menu.

Step 5: Save the Compressed PDF

Double check the file name is what you want. Then click "Save" to export a compressed version of your original PDF.

That‘s all there is to it! Preview makes PDF compression quick and easy. The only downside is you don‘t have control over the level of compression. But for a basic file size reduction, Preview can do the trick.

Pro Tip: You can skip steps 2 and 3 by using the keyboard shortcut Shift + Command + E when a PDF is open in Preview.

How to Use Adobe Compress PDF Online

For more control over the amount of compression, the Adobe Compress PDF website is a great option. Adobe provides this free online tool to reduce PDF file sizes right in your web browser.

Here are the steps to use it:

Step 1: Go to

Open your favorite web browser and navigate to This will open the Adobe Compress PDF tool.

Step 2: Upload Your PDF

Click the blue "Select a file" button. In the Finder window that pops up, locate and select your PDF file to upload it.

Larger files may take a bit longer to upload depending on your internet connection speed.

Step 3: Choose Your Compression Level

Once uploaded, you‘ll see three compression options to choose from:

  • High – Maximum compression but lowest image quality
  • Medium – Balances file size reduction and quality
  • Low – Least compression but best quality

Select the level that best fits your needs.

Step 4: Download the Compressed PDF

After picking your preferred compression amount, click the blue "Compress" button. Your compressed PDF will automatically start downloading.

Be sure to rename the compressed file or save it in a new location. This prevents accidentally overwriting your original PDF file.

The Adobe Compress PDF website provides more flexibility than Preview. You can pick from three compression levels to balance size reduction with image quality.

Pro Tip: Bookmark in your browser for quick access whenever you need to make a PDF smaller!

How to Use Adobe Acrobat to Compress PDFs

For maximum control over compression options, Adobe Acrobat is the best tool for optimizing PDFs.

Acrobat isn‘t free. But it offers advanced editing and optimization features for working with PDFs. Here are the steps to compress a PDF using Acrobat:

Step 1: Open Your PDF in Acrobat

First, launch the Acrobat app on your Mac. Click "File" > "Open" in the menu bar and browse to select your target PDF.

Alternatively, you can drag and drop a file directly into the Acrobat window to open it.

Step 2: Go to Tools > Optimize PDF

With your file open in Acrobat, click on "Tools" in the top menu bar. Then select "Optimize PDF" from the dropdown menu.

Step 3: Select Reduce File Size

In the optimization toolbar that appears, click the "Reduce File Size" option. This will open advanced compression settings.

Step 4: Set Compatibility and Compression

Under "Make compatible with", choose a PDF version that matches your needs. Typically Acrobat 4.0 or 5.0 works best.

Then use the slider to pick your desired level of compression. More compression = smaller file but lower quality.

Step 5: Save the Compressed PDF

Click "OK" then "Save As" to export a smaller version of your original PDF. Be sure to rename it or change the save location.

Acrobat provides the most flexibility for PDF optimization. You can fine tune compatibility and compression to find the perfect balance.

Pro Tip: Use Acrobat‘s compare tool to visually check the differences between your original and compressed PDFs.

Comparing the 3 PDF Compression Methods

Here‘s a recap of the key pros and cons for each PDF compression method:

Method Pros Cons
Preview – Built-in Mac app
– Very fast and easy
– Least control over compression
Adobe Compress – More compression options
– Free tool online
– Need internet access
Acrobat – Maximum compression control
– Advanced PDF features
– Paid software required

Preview is great for quick, basic PDF file size reduction.

Adobe Compress PDF provides more control over optimization settings.

Acrobat offers the most powerful compression and PDF editing tools.

The best one depends on your specific needs:

  • Use Preview for fast, simple compression on the go
  • Leverage Adobe Compress for more flexibility with quality and size
  • Get Acrobat if PDFs are a big part of your daily workflow

Now let‘s go over some tips and best practices to optimize your PDF compression…

Tips for Getting the Best PDF Compression Results

Follow these tips when reducing PDF file sizes to get the best balance of small size and high quality:

Check Image Resolution First

Large image files are usually the biggest culprit behind bloated PDFs. Before compressing, check if any images are larger than needed and can be reduced in resolution without impacting quality.

Here are recommended image resolutions for different use cases:

Use Case Recommended Resolution
Web or on-screen 72 or 150 dpi
High-quality print 300 dpi

Lower resolution = smaller image = smaller PDF!

Remove Unneeded Objects

Eliminate any unnecessary elements in your PDF to reduce file size. This includes:

  • Background images
  • Duplicate or redundant content
  • Unused vector graphics and logos

Removing non-essential objects reduces the file size without affecting important content.

Use Optimal Compatibility Settings

When compressing in Acrobat, choose the oldest PDF version your file needs to support. The default is Acrobat 4.0, which balances good compression with wide compatibility.

Newer PDF versions have more overhead and bloated file sizes. Unless you need specialized features, stick with Acrobat 4.0 or 5.0 compatibility.

Compress in Multiple Passes

Don‘t try to reduce a PDF by 50% in one shot. You‘re likely to overcompress and lose quality. Instead, compress gradually in multiple passes:

  • Pass 1: Compress by 20%
  • Pass 2: Compress by 10-20% more
  • Pass 3: Compress again if needed

This slower approach helps avoid excess quality loss. Check the file after each pass.

Use Lossy Rather Than Lossless Compression

Lossless compression like Flate or ZIP maintains perfect quality but provides less size reduction.

Lossy methods like JPEG compression give much better file size shrinkage. The tradeoff is potentially losing some fine image details.

If your PDF contains photos or scans, opt for lossy JPEG compression over lossless Flate/ZIP. But use high quality JPEG settings to minimize quality loss.

Keep Originals Backed Up Separately

When saving a compressed PDF, be sure to keep the uncompressed original stored separately. Overwriting your only copy of the original file could lead to permanent quality loss if you ever need that pristine version.

Save compressed and original files in separate locations. This ensures you always have the maximum quality available if needed later.

Real-World Examples of PDF Compression

To give a sense of the potential file size savings, here are some real-world examples of PDFs compressed with Adobe Acrobat:

File Original Size Compressed Size Savings
Product Brochure 5.2 MB 1.8 MB 65%
Conference Presentation 9.4 MB 3.1 MB 67%
Research Report 118 MB 98 MB 17%
Book Manuscript 152 MB 102 MB 33%

As you can see, compression percentages vary based on the PDF contents. But you can typically achieve reductions of 25-75% in file size without major quality loss!

Now let‘s go over compressing PDFs on smartphones…

Compressing PDFs on iPhone and Android

You can shrink PDF file sizes on mobile devices too! Here are your options:

On iPhone, use the built-in Files app. Open your PDF, tap the three dots in the upper right corner, choose "Compress" and pick a compression level.

On Android, install an app like Adobe Acrobat, PDF Compressor or PDFSizer to compress PDFs. Some Android models also have built-in compression in the My Files app.

While mobile compression options are more limited, they can still help reduce PDF sizes for easier sharing and storage as needed.

Final Tips for Making PDFs Smaller

Here are my top 3 tips for compressing PDFs:

  1. Check image resolution first – Lower any excessively large images. This is #1 for PDF size reduction!
  2. Compress gradually in multiple passes – Take it slow to avoid over-compressing. Check quality after each iteration.
  3. Keep originals backed up – Save compressed and original PDFs separately to avoid permanent quality loss.

Follow these best practices and you‘ll be a pro at shrinking PDF sizes in no time!


I hope this guide has given you the knowledge to easily compress PDFs on your Mac!

We covered Preview for fast compression, Adobe Compress for more control, and Acrobat for maximum optimization.

I also provided tips to balance size reduction with quality, example compression statistics, and how to reduce PDF sizes on mobile.

Optimizing your PDFs can save a ton of storage space and make sharing files much easier. Thanks for reading – now go try out these PDF compression methods for yourself!

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