3 Bulletproof Ways to Reduce PDF File Size

I always wondered what the exact reason behind the PDF’s popularity was, only to find out that it’s made out of two things:

  • Document security
  • File size reduction

The document security characteristics of our beloved PDF revolve around its default features and the fact that it isn’t an editable file format. This is what boosted the PDF into superstardom and helped the format become a standard in business correspondence worldwide.

The other notable factor is that when you convert a file to PDF, you are automatically reducing its file size from the original size of the source format. This is especially noticeable with smaller to medium sized PDF documents, which make up the majority of all email attachments.

However, this default compression isn’t enough sometimes. Sometimes we’re dealing with PDF file sizes that are well over the email attachment limit and we simply need to compress them in order to properly send them. Here’s how to solve situations like these.


So, if you have a PDF that isn’t confidential and need it compressed in a hurry then it’s best to use a free, online converters. Usually, they all work in the same fashion: first you upload your PDF (the smaller the PDF, the faster the upload) and then the tool compresses the images and the text, after which you can download it and go on with your work.

1) Using Online Tools

I tested a variety of tools but the PDF Compressor did the best job, by far. Using it, I was able to compress a 7MB document down to 5MB, which is a 30% compression. And that’s a nice feat, if you ask me. 

The tool is completely free, easy to use and will let you compress multiple files if that’s what you need. Additionally, it won’t put any branding or watermarks on the document which is something that several other online tools do.

2) Using WinRar

A second way of compressing PDF is most suitable for emailing purposes and that’s just plain zipping or rar-ing. You can use WinRar to compress your document and just email it that way, if that’s what floats your boat. This process is probably the simplest and easiest and yields similar results as using an online compression tool.

3) Using Adobe Acrobat

A third way of compressing PDF documents would be to use Adobe Acrobat’s PDF Optimizer tool, which lets you apply industry standard compression to a PDF and then save the optimized version for further use. What you should know is that Acrobat compresses both the content and the images and lets you setup compression parameters for each. It uses stuff like bicubic sampling and reduces the PPI of your images, therefore making them smaller.


There are tools out there, such as our own Able2Extract, that let you create PDF documents out of other file formats and set up advanced compression options while doing so.

These compression options revolve around reducing the size of images and content stream while creating PDF and can be extremely useful when you are tight on storage space. Like Acrobat, Able2Extract also gives you different image compression capabilities: bicubic downsampling, JPG, ZIP and a couple more.

Here’s how to set up PDF compression options using Able2Extract (available on Windows, MAC and Linux):

1) Open Able2Extract and go to View > PDF Creation Options > Compression.

Selecting Able2Extract Compression Options


2) Check the box “Compress Text” and set up image compression according to the source document. If your document contains colored images, the best compression setup would be to select ZIP or JPEG, and set the quality to low or minimal. After you are finished setting up everything, hit OK.

Compressing Text In Able2Extract


3) The next step is to create a PDF from one of your files and apply the compression settings. Click on Create, select your file and hit OK again. The tool will create a perfectly compressed PDF.

Able2Extract PDF Creation Progress Bar

All in all, there are a variety of ways in which you can compress and reduce the size of a PDF and none of them is necessarily the best. It all comes down to your personal preferences and your exact needs.

If you’re working with a publicly available document which does not go over 5MB in size, then using an online compression tool is probably your best bet. These are mostly free, while some have an upgrade option available.

For classified documents, it’s much smarter to use desktop software, as it allows you to perform necessary work locally without having to upload it to somebody else’s server. In these instances, you should most definitely resort to a software PDF tool (like Able2Extract) which is specially made for working with important PDFs in a secure, time saving way.