How to Make PDF Files Smaller on Mac: A Comprehensive Guide

Have you ever tried to send a PDF file only to find out that it is too large to be sent via email? Or perhaps you need to reduce the size of a PDF in order to upload it to a website or cloud storage platform. Whatever your reason may be, if you own a Mac, there are numerous ways to make PDFs smaller without sacrificing too much quality. In this article, we will walk you through 12 easy steps on how to make a PDF smaller on Mac.


Step 1: Open the PDF in Preview

The first step is to open the PDF file in Preview. This can be done by right-clicking the PDF and selecting “Open with” Preview from the options that appear.

Step 2: Export the PDF

Once the PDF is open in Preview, click on “File” in the top menu bar and select “Export”. This will bring up a window where you can adjust the file name, location, and format of your exported file.

Step 3: Select the Quartz Filter

Within the export window, select “Quartz Filter” from the drop-down menu labeled “Format”. Choose an appropriate filter based on the level of compression you need. Choose “Reduce File Size” to compress the file considerably.

Step 4: Adjust Resolution

Under the Quartz Filter, you can adjust the resolution of the exported file. Reducing the resolution will decrease the file size, but also decrease the quality of the imagery in the file.

Step 5: Compress Text

Click on the “Options” button to access various other settings. Select “Compress Text” to reduce the file size even further. This will make text in the file less sharp, but it is an effective way to reduce file size.

Step 6: Remove Unnecessary Elements

In the same “Options” menu, you can also remove any unnecessary elements in the PDF such as embedded fonts, annotations, and form fields. Removing these elements can make a big impact on file size.

Step 7: Save the File

Once you have made all necessary adjustments, click “Save” to export the compressed PDF.

Step 8: Use Third-Party Apps

If Preview is not giving you the results you need, there are numerous other third-party apps that can compress PDFs on Mac. Some popular ones include Adobe Acrobat Pro, PDF Squeezer, and PDF Expert.

Step 9: Use Online PDF Compressors

If you do not want to download any additional software, there are also online PDF compressors available. Services such as SmallPDF and iLovePDF allow you to upload your file and compress it directly from their website.

Step 10: Split the PDF

If you have a large PDF file with numerous pages, splitting it into smaller files can reduce the overall file size. This can be done using Preview or a third-party app.

Step 11: Use PDF Optimization Tools

Some PDF optimization tools such as PDF Optimizer in Adobe Acrobat Pro can optimize PDF files for specific uses such as web or print. This will adjust the compression and resolution settings accordingly.

Step 12: Store Files in Cloud Storage

Finally, instead of sending files via email, consider storing them in cloud storage such as Google Drive or Dropbox. This way, you can share links to the files instead of sending large attachments.


By following these 12 steps, you can successfully reduce the size of your PDF files on Mac. It is important to note that some adjustments, such as reducing resolution and compressing text, will result in a loss of quality. Therefore, it is important to balance the level of compression needed with the level of quality required for your specific use case.

Tips and Tricks

1. Consider your use case

Before compressing your PDF, think about how it will be used. If it needs to be printed or displayed on a large screen, you may want to avoid compressing it too much.

2. Make sure to keep backups

Whenever you make significant adjustments to your files, it is important to keep backups in case anything goes wrong.

3. Avoid using JPEG Compression

JPEG compression can reduce the quality of the imagery in a PDF file significantly. It is better to use an alternative compression method.

4. Remove sensitive information

Before sharing a PDF with others, make sure to remove any sensitive information such as personal details or confidential data.

5. Use OCR Software

OCR software can convert scanned PDF files into searchable text. This can make the file much smaller and easier to work with.

6. Use High-Quality Fonts

When creating PDF files, try to use high-quality fonts that do not require embedding. This will reduce file size.

7. Remove Hidden Data

Many PDF files contain hidden data such as metadata, comments, and attachments. This can increase file size significantly. Use a tool such as Adobe Acrobat Pro to remove this data.

8. Use Compressible File Formats

When saving images to be included in a PDF, choose formats that are easily compressible such as PNG or JPEG 2000.

9. Use PDF/A Format

If you are creating a PDF for long-term archiving, use the PDF/A format. This will ensure that the file can be opened and read in the future.

10. Use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology

OCR technology is used to convert scanned files into text files. When you convert a PDF file into a text file, the size will become smaller.

Advantages and Disadvantages


1. Smaller File Size: You can reduce the file size of your PDF document, which is especially useful when emailing or sharing online. Smaller file sizes also help save space on your hard drive.

2. Preserves Quality: When you compress your PDF, it retains its original quality, and you won’t see any loss in image or text quality.

3. Easy to Share: Smaller PDF files are perfect for sharing online, especially when you have limited storage space, or when you need to upload documents on websites or other platforms.

4. Faster Upload and Download Speeds: Small PDF files are faster to upload and download, making it more convenient for both you and your recipients.

5. Multiple Software Options: Mac users have plenty of software options available to compress PDF files, some of which are free, while others require a paid subscription.

6. Customizable Settings: Many PDF compression software options allow for customization of compression settings, such as the level of compression, image quality, and more.

7. More Efficient: Compressed PDF files take less time to open, making them more efficient to work with, especially when you have to scroll through long documents.

8. Helps with SEO: Smaller PDF files can also help with search engine optimization (SEO) by improving your page load times.

9. Environment-Friendly: When you reduce the size of your PDF files, you’re also reducing the amount of storage space required to store those files, which is environmentally friendly.

10. Cost-Effective: Instead of paying for expensive software that consumes space on your hard drive, many free or affordable PDF compression options are available.


1. Loss of Data: In some cases, compressing a PDF file too much can result in a loss of data or quality, making it difficult to read.

2. Compatibility Issues: Older or outdated PDF readers may have difficulty viewing compressed PDF files, causing compatibility issues.

3. Compression Errors: Sometimes, the compression process can cause errors, such as missing pages or images, or incorrect formatting.

4. Limited Flexibility: Some compression software tools offer limited flexibility regarding compression levels or image quality.

5. Additional Steps: Compressing a PDF file requires an additional step that may add to your workload, especially if you have many documents to compress regularly.

6. Time-Consuming: Depending on the size of the PDF file, compressing it can take a long time, causing delays in your work.

7. Security Risks: When you use third-party compression software, there’s a risk of compromising the security of your sensitive data or files.

8. Online Risks: If you’re compressing PDF files online, there’s a risk of your confidential information being intercepted or hacked.

9. Potential for Misuse: Smaller file sizes make it easier to distribute copyrighted material, which raises ethical concerns about potential misuse.

10. Quality Trade-Offs: In most cases, compressing a PDF file will result in some loss of quality, even if it’s minimal. It’s important to weigh the disadvantages against the advantages and decide which one is more critical to your needs.


1. Why should I make PDF smaller on Mac?

Making PDF smaller on Mac can help you save space on your device, make it easier and faster to share files over the internet, and reduce the time it takes to upload or download large files.

2. Can I make PDF smaller on Mac without any software?

Yes, you can use the “Reduce File Size” option in Preview, which comes pre-installed on your Mac, to make PDF smaller without any additional software.

3. How do I access the “Reduce File Size” option in Preview?

To access the “Reduce File Size” option in Preview, open your PDF file in Preview, go to the “File” menu, and select “Export…”. In the export window, select “Reduce File Size” from the “Quartz Filter” dropdown menu.

4. Can I choose the degree of compression in the “Reduce File Size” option?

No, the “Reduce File Size” option in Preview applies a standard level of compression to your PDF file. If you need more control over the degree of compression, you can use third-party software such as Adobe Acrobat.

5. How do I make PDF smaller on Mac with Adobe Acrobat?

To make PDF smaller on Mac with Adobe Acrobat, open your PDF file in Acrobat, go to the “File” menu, select “Save as Other”, and choose “Reduced Size PDF”. In the settings window, you can choose the degree of compression and quality of your PDF file.

6. Are there any free third-party software to reduce PDF size on Mac?

Yes, there are several free third-party software to reduce PDF size on Mac, such as PDFsam Basic, PDF Shrink, and Smallpdf.

7. How do I use PDFsam Basic to reduce PDF size on Mac?

To use PDFsam Basic to reduce PDF size on Mac, download and install the software, open your PDF file in PDFsam Basic, go to the “Merge/Extract” tab, select “Extract”, and choose the pages you want to keep. Then click “Run” and choose “Reduce size” from the dropdown menu.

8. Can I use PDF Shrink to batch compress multiple PDF files on Mac?

Yes, you can use PDF Shrink to batch compress multiple PDF files on Mac by selecting the files you want to compress, right-clicking them, and selecting “Open With” and “PDF Shrink”. Then click “Shrink” to compress your files.

9. How do I use Smallpdf to reduce PDF size on Mac?

To use Smallpdf to reduce PDF size on Mac, go to the Smallpdf website, select “Compress PDF” from the menu, drag and drop your PDF file into the window, and wait for the compression process to finish. Then download your compressed PDF file.

10. What is the maximum file size I can compress with Smallpdf?

The maximum file size you can compress with Smallpdf depends on the subscription plan you choose. The free plan allows you to compress files under 2 GB, while the paid plans offer higher limits.

11. Can I reduce PDF size on Mac without losing quality?

It is difficult to reduce PDF size on Mac without losing quality, as compression inevitably results in some loss of data. However, you can choose a high-quality compression method and avoid compressing images and graphics too much to minimize loss of quality.

12. How do I know if the compressed PDF file is still readable?

You can check if the compressed PDF file is still readable by opening it in Preview or Adobe Acrobat, scrolling through the pages, checking if all the text and images are still visible, and verifying that there are no errors or glitches.

13. Can I undo the compression and restore the original PDF file?

No, once you have compressed a PDF file, you cannot undo the compression and restore the original file. Therefore, it is advisable to make a backup copy of the original file before compressing it.

How to Make PDF Smaller on Mac: Tips and Tricks

PDF, short for Portable Document Format, is widely used for a variety of reasons, including creating online forms, documents, eBooks, and other digital print media. However, a large PDF file can quickly become a nightmare, especially when you need to send it through email or upload it to a website. Fortunately, by following a few simple steps, you can reduce the file size of your PDF on your Mac and make it more manageable. In this article, we will explore some of the tips and tricks for how to make PDF smaller on Mac.

Conclusion and Closing

In conclusion, having large PDF files can make it difficult to share, upload or send through email. Thankfully, there are steps you can take on a Mac to compress and reduce the size of your PDF. After following the tips and tricks highlighted in this guide, you should be able to save space, time, and bandwidth when working with PDF files. It is important to note, however, that once you have compressed your PDF, the quality of images and text may become reduced. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that you thoroughly review the document before sharing or emailing to ensure that it meets your needs and requirements. With practice, creating smaller PDFs on your Mac can become much easier and facilitate smoother work processes.

Until next time, keep exploring and applying new techniques to make your work easier!