How to Make a PDF Smaller

Shrink PDFs for faster uploading and sending

A woman using a computer.

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Portable Document Format (PDF) files are useful for sharing information across operating systems and different application versions. PDFs are also helpful because formatting remains consistent, files can be password-protected, and file sizes are relatively small.

However, there are times when PDF file sizes are too large for particular purposes, such as uploading to certain websites, or sending via email. In these situations, you can compress PDF files using one of the following methods.

Some methods may include downloading software or paying a fee. See sections below for details.

Reduce Size of PDFs on Windows

When you create a PDF using Microsoft programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, there is an easy way to ensure the file size is as small as possible. Here’s how it works in Word 2016 and 2013: 

  1. Open your Word document.

  2. Click File > Export.

  3. On the next screen, under Export, select Create PDF/XPS Document.

  4. To the right, click Create PDF/XPS

  5. In the Publish dialog box, under Optimize For, select Minimum Size (publishing online).

    microsoft word publish pdf dialog box
  6. Click Publish.

In Word 2010:

Word 2010 works ever so slightly differently. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Open your Word document.

  2. Click File > Save As.

  3. In the File Name box, enter your file name.

    It may seem tempting to keep the same file name, but you should change it at least slightly so you still have a copy of the original PDF file.

  4. In the Save as Type list, click PDF (*.pdf).

  5. Click Minimum Size (publishing online).

  6. Click Save

Reduce Size of PDFs on macOS

This handy trick allows Mac users to easily reduce the size of PDFs.

Preview comes with each installation of macOS (since the days of Mac OS X). It will be located in your Applications folder.

  1. From Finder, right-click on the file you want to open and choose Open With > Preview

  2. Click File > Export.

  3. In the dialog box, in the Quartz Filter menu, select Reduce File Size

  4. Click Save

Reduce Size of PDFs on Your Phone

To reduce the size of a PDF file on your phone, you'll need to install a PDF compression app such as iLovePDF, which is available for both Android and iOS. Each app will be slightly different, but here's how it works with this one:

If you don't have a Mac and you don't have the Office apps on your Windows machine, you can use this same service (below) on your PC by going to I Love PDFs' website.

  1. Open the iLovePDF app.

    The iLovePDF app is showing the home screen.
  2. Tap Compress PDF.

  3. Select the location (Device, Google Drive, or Dropbox) from which you will retrieve the PDF document.

  4. Give the app permission to access each location.

  5. Navigate to the PDF file you want to compress, select it, and tap Next.

  6. Choose the level of compression you want: Extreme, Recommended, or Low. Tap Compress.

  7. You will see a completion message. To see the compressed file, tap Go to File.

    iLovePDF app is showing a completed screen.
  8. You’re done!