Saturday, April 26, 2014

Reducing Size of PDF Files

I often end up, by "printing" web pages to PDF files (which you can do with Macs easily, and with Windows machines fairly easily also), with large PDF files that are too large to email.  I try not to send any files over email that are larger than 3 Mb in size or so.  This is because some email servers will filter out and refuse to deliver large attachments; and I've had one friend complain vehemently about people sending him large attachments and thereby tying up his phone line for hours.  Yes, he was still on dialup, and yes, he did not know that most decent email programs like Thunderbird or Entourage have a setting so that emails over a user-specified size would only be partially downloaded.  For instance, if I am traveling and don't want to download large emails on my MacBook, I just set my Thunderbird email program (which is awesome) to not download emails over 100Kb in size.  I can later download those large emails when I am at home or at a wifi spot where I have a fast internet speed and am not being charge for data usage. 

Back to the point of this article -- I used to use Adobe's expensive Acrobat Professional program to reduce the size of my PDF files.  There is a "PDF Optimizer" under the Advanced menu pulldown menu that sometimes does a pretty good job of reducing the file size of PDF files.  However, recently it seems that this tool does a worse and worse job.  Sometimes, I'd use this tool and the resulting file would be even LARGER than the original! 

I looked online, and voila -- there was a great solution.  I only wish that I  had known about this earlier.  The resulting PDF files are indeed smaller, and they are much sharper than files compressed using Adobe's Optimizer in Acrobat Professional. 

Here's what I found:

I found this web page:

Basically, you open your PDF file in Mac's Preview, NOT Adobe Acrobat. 
Then,you do a “Save As…” where you select the “Reduce File Size” Quartz filter. 

I did this, but the article above describes an even better method.

  1. Download and unzip Reduce File Size (75%).  Note that the “75%” relates to settings in the filter, not the amount of reduction you’ll get by using it.
  2. Drop the unzipped .qfilter file into ~/Library/Filters in Leopard/Snow Leopard or /Library/PDF Services in Lion.  (Apparently no ~ in Lion.)  Note: I had to create my own "Filters" folder in the appropriate Library folder in my Mac (I am still running Snow Leopard on my MacBook; Mountain Lion on my desktop Mac). 
Done.  The next time you need to reduce the size of a PDF, load it up in Preview, choose “Save As…”, and save it using the Quartz filter you just installed.

Thanks,!  (Eric Meyer). 

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