How To Use Preview To Make Your PDF Documents Smaller [OS X Tips]


Ever wonder why that PDF with just text in it is somehow bloated to a massive file size? Why should something that would be under 500 kilobytes if it were a Text Edit file be two or three megabytes when put into PDF form?

Well, the answer can vary, but if you ever get a PDF from someone that’s too darn big, say, to send via email, then you can use Preview to shrink the file size down to, well, size.

Preview is the built-in file viewer for images and PDF documents, so it’s super easy to find and use.

First off, you’ll need to launch Preview from your Applications folder or Dock, and then open the PDF document you want to shrink down. Next, head up to the File menu, and choose Export, as in the screenshot above.

Then you’ll get a file dialog, and you’ll want to click on the popup menu net to Quartz Filter, the built in image processing system for OS X. Choose the Reduce File Size option (see below), change the name to a new one, and then hit Save.

Quartz Filter

Now you’ll have a PDF that’s smaller in size, unless you don’t, which can happen sometimes with some PDFs. Make sure you open the new file to check the image and text quality–sometimes this file reduction can result in an unacceptable loss in image quality or text readability, so go back to your original file and find another way to send it.

  • MrsCleaver

    Good tip. Just be aware that if your PDF contains scanned text, making it smaller in the way described above will most likely make the text unreadable, or at least difficult to read.

    I think there’s a dedicated program for making PDFs smaller by degrees, but not sure of the name.

    Thanks again, Rob.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Games and Tips Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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