How to Make a PDF Smaller

Shrink PDFs for faster uploading and sending

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 when 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 the 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 2019, 2016, and 2013: 

  1. Open your Word document. Select File.

    Microsoft Word document with File highlighted
  2. Select Export.

    Export highlighted in Microsoft Word
  3. On the next screen, under Export, select Create PDF/XPS Document.

    Export section of Word document with Create PDF/XPS Document highlighted
  4. To the right, select Create PDF/XPS

    Word Export section with Create PDF/XPS highlighted
  5. In the dialog, select Minimum Size (publishing online) and choose Publish to generate the PDF.

    PDF dialog in Microsoft Word with Minimum size selected

In Word 2010:

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

  1. Open your Word document.

  2. Select File > Save As.

  3. In the File name field, 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, select PDF (*.pdf).

  5. Select Minimum Size (publishing online).

  6. Select Save

Compress the Size of PDFs on a Mac

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 PDF you want to open and choose Open With > Preview

    Mac showing Open with > Preview path
  2. Select File in the Preview menu bar and choose Export in the drop-down menu.

    Preview File menu with Export selected
  3. In the dialog box, in the Quartz Filter menu, select Reduce File Size

    Reduce File Size selected in Preview Quartz filter menu option
  4. Select Save

    Save selected in the PDF dialogue box

Reduce Size of PDFs on Your Phone

To reduce the size of a PDF file on your phone, you need to install a PDF compression app such as iLovePDF, which is available for both Android and iOS. Each app is 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.

  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.

    iLovePDF app showing path to selecting a PDF to compress
  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.

    Selecting and compressing a Google Drive PDF on an Android phone