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Reducing the file size of a PDF the fast, easy way

By November 21, 2013June 6th, 2022No Comments

Lawyers sometimes need to slim down the size of a PDF, often to meet an e-filing restriction (i.e. where a court limits the size of files uploaded to its servers).

There are two ways to reduce the file size of an existing PDF: (1) the Reduced Size option, and (2) the Optimized PDF option.

In Acrobat XI those two options are found under File > Save As Other, and in Acrobat X, they’re found under File > Save As (as shown below).

File Save AsIn many cases, the reduction in file size will be the same. So, in most cases the best choice is Reduced Size PDF. Mostly, because it presents the simplest dialogue box:

02 Reduced File Size

The only options are (1) to change the “retain existing” (which relates to how backwards compatible you want the resulting PDF to be) and (2) whether to “Apply to Multiple.” Usually, it’s best to leave the default set to “retain existing.” So, if you’re not going to apply the reduction to multiple PDFs you can just click OK and you’re done.

This is the fastest, and easiest way to reduce the size of a PDF.

What about the Optimized PDF option? It’s acceptable too, but the odds are you’ll be intimidated by the dialogue box, which looks like this:

03 Optimize PDF

Note that it also has the option to set the backwards compatibility of the reduced-size PDF (see area boxed in red). But, the Optimized PDF dialogue box also has a slew of other options, which for most lawyers are irrelevant, and way too intimidating.

So which one does a better job of compression? Like I said earlier, it depends.

In preparing this post, I opened a random PDF that was about 500 Kbs in size. Then I ran both the Reduce File Size and Optimized PDF options.

In both cases wound up with a PDF of about 61 Kbs. In other words, the PDF was compressed by a factor of about 10. Again, not every PDF will compress so dramatically because the reduction depends on various factors such as how many images are in the PDF, how the PDF was initially created and so forth.

How much reduction you get is outside your control. But at least now you know the fastest and easiest way to reduce the size of a PDF.

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