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How to Compress PDF Files

Method 1: Online Compression Tools

Pros: Quickest and simplest if you need to compress PDFs occasionally. No software installation required.

Cons: Privacy can be a concern because you’re uploading your file to a third party service. They also have file size limits on free versions.

Popular Sites:

Smallpdf.com (https://smallpdf.com/compress-pdf)
iLovePDF (https://www.ilovepdf.com/compress_pdf)
PDF2Go (https://www.pdf2go.com/compress-pdf)

The Process: Usually as simple as dragging and dropping your PDF, selecting a compression level and downloading the compressed result.

Method 2: Dedicated Software (Adobe Acrobat Pro)

Pros: Full control over compression settings, part of Acrobat’s powerful PDF toolkit.

Cons: Requires the paid version of Adobe Acrobat Pro.

How To:

  • Open your PDF in Acrobat Pro.
  • Go to File –> Save as Other –> Reduced Size PDF.
  • Choose your compatibility settings and compression level.
  • Save the compressed file.

Method 3: Built in Preview App (macOS)

Pros: Easy if you’re on a Mac, no extra software needed.

Cons: More limited compression options compared to dedicated tools.

How To:

  • Open your PDF in Preview.
  • Go to File –> Export.
  • In the Quartz Filter drop down menu, select Reduce File Size.
  • Save the compressed file.

Important Things

Compression vs. Quality: Aggressive compression reduces file size but can make images noticeably blurry. Experiment with different compression levels to find a balance.

Sensitive Files: For confidential PDFs, using offline software (like Acrobat Pro) gives you greater control over where your file resides.

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