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How to Compress a PDF on Mac

You’ve done it: created the ultimate comprehensive PDF to send to someone. It has everything. Huge, high-quality images that help deliver the message home. Plenty of content that the recipient can read through. And, when you finally go to email it, you attach it and realize that you did one thing wrong:

It’s too big.

Unfortunately, PDF compression becomes an issue when you include all sorts of “goodies” that spruce up a PDF. But before you go deleting those to reduce its file size, you might want to think about doing something else: compressing.

The act of compressing a PDF file will give you a few advantages:

  • Reducing file size. After all, that’s what this is all about: getting your file small enough to fit within a single email. This reduces confusion and ensures that your client doesn’t miss the opportunity to download the file.
  • Increasing a PDF’s share-ability. If you want your PDF to get shared across the Internet, you’re going to have to make sure that it’s in one piece. Otherwise, you make the process of sharing that much more complicated.
  • Keeping the file quality. The problem with the two above? You might think that you have to reduce the quality of the file to make it shareable. You have to find a way to reduce the file size without sacrificing the quality.

The solution of using your Mac device to compress a PDF might sound complicated. But it’s not. Below, we’ll completely demystify the process so you can share your PDF in its full glory when using a Mac computer or Mac device:

Compress a PDF By “Optimizing” It

Let’s be honest: the quality of the graphics you add to the PDF is where most of the reduction in file size will come from. You don’t want to miss out on these graphics, but you do need a way to include them without letting the file size get out of control.

If you use Nitro PDF Pro for Mac, you’ll have a great way to do this that isn’t overly complicated. Here’s what you’ll need to know:

  • Open the PDF.
  • Go to File -> Create Optimized PDF.
How to Compress a PDF on Mac(1).png

  • In the Optimized Images window, you’ll see three options here: Color, Grayscale, and Monochrome.
How to Compress a PDF on Mac(2).png

  • Resample will reduce the file size by decreasing the number of pixels in the images present on your PDF. It will converge original pixels into larger pixels. You’ll miss something in the quality, but you can still include the images while reducing the overall file size.
  • Format offers three options, as you’ll see in the picture above. “Leave as is,” “Lossless (ZIP),” and “Lossy (JPEG).” Which should you choose? Lossless won’t save much disk space, and since that’s your goal here, it likely won’t be your choice. Lossy will be better for compressing color images, including photographs with color gradients. Lossy compression tends to produce much smaller file outputs, which may be your best bet.
  • Quality lets you select from five different levels, rated Lowest to Highest. This will depend on the types of images you have in your PDF, so feel free to make a judgment call here.
  • Next, you can choose from further options, such as Remove third-party metadata. This will remove any background metadata present from the images. This is good for privacy purposes usually, but also reduces your file size. Standard metadata such as title and author will be removed, so keep that in mind. Other metadata that may impact the size of the overall file include thumbnail images, image data, and object data.
  • Select Optimize Image only if it saves space. PDFpen will then automatically skip images that increase the file size of your images in the compression process.
  • Choose Create to initiate the process. The output? A new PDF with a smaller file size, according to the settings you just went through.

It might seem like a lot of information to digest, so keep this in mind: all you’re doing is telling Nitro PDF Pro for Mac how to compress the PDF. That’s it. You may have to do some tinkering the first time you try it, especially as you learn what the settings do. But as you go, you’ll get the hang of these settings and how quickly they can change the PDF into something more manageable.
One tip: Make sure you pay close attention to the resulting PDF. Does it still meet your standards for image quality? Does it still look like something you want to share with clients? If so, you’re on the way to compressing your PDF without losing the quality of work that went into it.

More on Resampling Images

You’ll notice that much of your work will come from adjusting one setting above: resampling images. But what does this do, and how can you manipulate it to make sure that your file is exactly how you want it?

Resampling Images essentially reduces the file size of an image by changing the resolution (less) and reducing the depth of color.

If you know anything about images, you know that lessening the resolution can decrease quality. Unfortunately, that’s one of the sacrifices you may have to make if you want the PDF to fit a specified file size.

Want to try this out on a PDF document when using your Apple or Mac device? Go to Edit -> Resample Image to resample the document down to 1-bit text, grayscale, or JPEG compression. You can then select the dpi you want. You can compress a specific image, or even select a page. You can also select Resample Entire Document to reduce the image sizes across the entire document. This is key, because it means that you’ll then be able to resize a PDF almost at will, assuming you’re okay with the loss of dpi.

There’s a second tip worth checking out as well. Rather than simply choosing a lower DPI, you can go next to the Color JPEG compression dropdown menu. There, you’ll see a percentage indicator. If you lower it to 50%, you’ll do a lot to reduce the file size. Process it and then examine the PDF again to see if it’s up to your standards.

Advanced PDF Compression Tips for the Mac

Let’s stay within Nitro PDF Pro for Mac. What else can you do to compress? Resampling images is one of the fastest ways to do it. But you can also look at other impacts on your file size, like colorspaces and fonts, to get the file down to size.

Look at issues like Scanning, the aforementioned Resample Image, or even Deskew & Adjust Image to see what kinds of impacts these have on the PDF you produce.

Why Compress a PDF on Mac?

You might wonder why anyone in their right mind would reduce the quality of the photos within their PDF. After all, you worked hard on them. Is it really worth a few megabytes to reduce the quality of these photos? It depends on what your priorities are. Consider the following:’

  • Compressing PDFs makes it easier to send them. It’s not just about what you can send out. It’s also about the PDF file size that people can receive. The lighter your PDF is, the more likely it is that you’ll run into fewer issues when you send them out. This is especially important for sending out vital business documents that multiple people need to review.
  • Compressing PDFs makes storage easier. Depending on your file storage solution, you may have to pay for storage as it goes up to a new tier. Compressing PDFs before saving them is a great way to ensure that you use as little storage as possible while still keeping a full record of everything you do at your business.

Once you know how to change and edit PDFs, everything you do in business will become easier. You’ll find it easier to share PDFs for signing. You’ll be able to edit PDFs to alter documents and contracts. Ultimately, PDFs are the way things get done these days, and it’s important that you have an application that lets you work with them as you would work with any document for your business.

If you’re interested in investing in your PDF capabilities, consider downloading a free trial of Nitro PDF Pro for Mac.

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All Things PDF Mac

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