How to reduce pdf file size in Mac

If you tried to create pdf file in Mac, you will notice the pdf file size is huge. Many people are looking for ways to reduce the pdf file size, some even choose to purchase third party software to create pdf file in Mac. Here’s a way to reduce the pdf file size for free using the Mac default viewer – Preview.

I’ve run a test which convert a doc file to pdf file in Mac (doc file size 850k), and it produce a pdf file which is 1.2MB. After i reduce the pdf file size using Preview, the pdf file size reduced to 485k. Amazing right!

To reduce the pdf file size in Mac, follow the steps below:-


  • Open your pdf file using Preview
  • Click on File -> Save As, Choose “Reduce File Size” from “Quartz Filter” and click Save button
  • Done. your PDF file size should be reduce by now.

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64 Responses to “How to reduce pdf file size in Mac”

  1. Jayant says:

    Thx, the option is under “Export” in the new version of Yosemite now.

  2. CC ROCKS! says:

    CC – THANK YOU! The only workable solution for me was to convert to B&W as CC suggested.

  3. Dean says:

    This seems to be an ongoing problem – there are threads like this going back years. Seems like a lot of people have the same set of problems. I followed the preview method and did some reading on it including customizing the filter. It works poorly on predominantly text documents. It should be easier than this! It looks like I am going to have to try some third part software.

  4. Natalie says:

    Thank you so so so much!!!!! What a quick easy solution. I have nearly been in tears with trying to reduce the pdf size and getting very annoyed when everyone is telling me you can’t do it!!

  5. SwissMatt says:

    If you are looking for something that is easy to use and maintains the quality have a look at

  6. lauren says:

    thank you! saved the day!

  7. srini says:

    This is a great tip, saved my day.

  8. Anthony says:

    I have a two page PDF which is 1.6MB – tried your suggestion and the file came out at 1.8MB – how it gets larger when you ask it to reduce the size I don’t know. Surely there must be an easy way.

  9. New to Mac says:

    Had my Mac less than a year and it’s a steep learning curve but as with so many things with Mac… once you know how, it’s so simple.

    Reduced file size from 35mb to 773kb with no discernible effect on picture quality. Thanks!!

  10. Julio says:

    My pdfs are huge, and by some strange reason they get saved by page!! My preview does not show a “save as” command

    So, I have a better recommendation: DO NOT, repeat: DO NOT throw away your PC. Get a good size pendrive and convert pdfs in that PC using Windows. Simple. You´ll get really compressed multipage pdfs.

  11. Mary says:

    Also try right clicking your pdf and Open With ColorSync. Then click File and Export and select one of the filters to reduce the pdf without losing quality.

    Hope this helps.

  12. HongKonger says:

    I tried the above method and the photos turned negative effect. Then I found the easiest easy:
    When saving as PDF file: Do not “Click” any of the boxes under “Options” on the “General” page.
    See below, don’t click them:
    • Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities.
    • Embed Page Thumbnails
    • Optimize for Fast Web View
    • View PDF after Saving
    • Create Acrobat Layers from Top-level layer
    Then click “Save PDF”
    ( I am able to reduce from 8.7MB to 4.1 MB by doing this.)

    If you need much smaller file, after “unclick the above”, click on left column choose “Compression”
    Under Color Bitmap Images – Compression – choose JPEG – and click “Save PDF:
    (I am able to reduce a 8.7 MB file to only 917K.

    Good luck!

  13. frustrated says:

    I have not been able to find a solution to reduce PDF file size without my images becoming too blurry for professional use. This is a royal pain. I have a friend in UK who has a print option to save as Adobe PDF and then filter to reduce file size. And her PDFs of my same document are awesome. But I don’t have that option although I just bought my Mac and we are using same version of WORD for Mac. This is driving me nuts.

  14. THisdoesn'twork says:

    This doesn’t work–it turns a massive file into one you can’t read because the file quality is so shitty

  15. Terence Wright says:

    Yes, I have tried this, but the quality of the pdf file, when you save it using the Quartz filter to “reduce file size, is so bad, that the recipients of this saved file, can’t read the document due to the fuzzy nature of the quality. Apple stinks, to have a simple task of converting a Word document to pdf, and having to choose size for quality. Makes me want to go back to the old PC and deal with the MS problems.

    Almost sorry I converted to Mac years ago.

  16. Hans Janssen says:

    just installed Lion on my mac. Unfortunately it is no longer possible to reduce my PDF file seize through preview. Can somebody help me here.

    Thanks Hans

  17. Rachel says:

    You rock! thanks!

  18. Elena says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH !!! This was exactly what I was looking for since many months … THANK YOU 🙂

  19. Natalia says:

    As Daniel said, bad advice….

    Not as useful as PrimoPDF is to Windows.

    We have lots of ppt files (full of high quality biology images) and the reason we want to transform to pdf is because pdf is waaaay smaller. In windows PrimoPDF do ok. We just drop the file on it and it converts to a 60% smaller pdf file, with a good quality. Thats what we’re looking for, but for a mac. Simple and efficient.

  20. Johan says:

    Awesome. Thanks!

  21. Ed says:

    I have found that this method works quite well usually.

    However, I have a large PDF file from someone else (only 9 pages, 27.7 MB), that I want to e-mail. I used the above “Reduce File Size” method and the file size INcreased to a whopping 368 MB (still just 9 pages)!!

    I can’t explain this. Most of the file is text. I also tried Print -> PDF -> Save as PDF, and the resulting file was 27.6 MB (0.1 MB less). It would be really nice if Apple had compression options included in Preview.

  22. Gabriel says:

    To clarify, the screen shot hotkey should be: [apple + shift + 4]

  23. Gabriel says:

    Hey, I found a decent method of reducing pdf size.

    1) open PDF file you want compressed
    2) screen shot the pdf file
    3) Open the screen shotted file (should be saved in .png)
    4) Save As .pdf

    It worked pretty well for me: reduced my pdf file size from 10 MB to about 1 MB, so pretty happy with that. Hope you guys find it useful!

  24. Tod says:

    For those still struggling, here is another possible solution:
    The problem is with Ligatures.

    Click “Save as”
    Click “Compatibility Report”
    One of the errors will state: “Ligatures will not appear in other versions of Word”
    Select this error then click “Fix”

    You can then close the compatibility report and then save the file as both docx and PDF. The PDF file will be a more reasonable size.

    Original docx 2.1 mg => pdf 110 mg
    After correcting ligatures => pdf 2.1 mg

  25. Geoff says:

    I found that opening the .pdf in Preview and then exporting the doc to a .pdf (yeah I know it sounds odd) reduced the file size by 50%. It was definitely a lower resolution, but I would say it was acceptable, compared to the non-acceptable version I had by using the Quartz Filter/Reduce File Size option.

    Good luck…

  26. Singh says:

    Thanks buddy!! It works gr8
    God Bless u

  27. cece says:

    Perfect – THANKS!!!

  28. Tortured Writer says:

    Here’s a much better method (for Mac users):

    If you’re actually CREATING the PDF:
    This will ask you where you want to save it, and you’ll need to give it a file name.

    If you already have a huge PDF:
    —Open the PDF from PREVIEW program
    —Then follow the steps above

    Compressed file look almost as good as originals.

  29. Daniel says:


    Sorry, but that is bad advice. All PDFs that I have generated with this method are virtually unreadable. B/W did not do the job for me either.

    I was more looking for a solution for “nearly same quality, smaller file size”. The best I found is “PDF Shrink”: I am not totally happy, but PDF are getting shrinked per drag’n’dop. It is much faster than Acrobat and definitely much better than Preview for that matter.

    Best wishes

  30. Ashley says:

    Not sure why mine worked out so much better than these, but I used this method and it reduced my file sizes drastically (one example: 25mb down to less than 1!) with NO loss of quality. Most of my PDFs are from professors powerpoints, so I think they had a lot of unreduced images in them. This worked perfectly.

  31. CC says:

    Here’s a usable tip: to reduce text but keep it legible, use the quartz filter “Black & White”. It changed my file from 71.7 MB to 11.9 MB.

  32. CC says:

    Yes, it does reduce the size to a point where the text is completely illegible. Any usable tips?

  33. chua says:

    hi meow, this method is only good for those pdf that has no or limited images.
    pdf magazine are not advisable to reduce it’s size using this method

  34. meow says:

    This made all may images black and green! not a good approach to reducing file size.

  35. Mike in Arkansas says:

    Thanks so much. Took my 11.4MB file down to 474K. Big win! Thanks for taking the time to post this…

  36. Narelle says:

    You are an absolute champion, thank you!

  37. pearly says:

    Thank you soo much! I had an assignment due and I have been trying for a week to figure out how to reduce the file size. God bless you sir!!!

  38. Teva says:

    Thank you so much!!!

  39. Adriana says:

    Thank you so much!!!! This was a lifesaver!!!!!

  40. Bee says:

    Thank you so very much! I have been tearing my hair out trying to send large files on my iMac. This really works. Thank you thank you thank you

  41. Billy T says:

    This is a great tip. My wife was the one having the problem and I am her tech support now that I finally got her to use a Mac. Basically she had a PDF document/Brochure with loads of pictures in it. The PDF was 85Mb, using the steps above, it reduced it to 405kb. There was no noticeable loss in quality. Absolutely awesome. I am in really good books. Thank you

  42. Stuart says:

    Works for me after saving as PDF from Word 2011. So thank you very much, and begone unnecessarily massive PDFs!

  43. kleinermann says:

    I agree with what was said above, this only works if you have a pdf without images, or the images are not important to you.

  44. chua says:

    sometimes this feature doesnt really reduce the pdf file size.
    this depends on how the pdf file is being created.
    i also experience some files having larger file size at output and some with the same size.

  45. Frustrated says:

    Thank you for your tip, but I followed your instructions, and my file came out the exact same size! 135k for a one-page pdf of my resumé. This is REALLY frustrating.

  46. Ds says:

    When trying with a pdf file of 30.9 MB, select the filter reduce file size, it actually make it bigger!!! to 55.9 MB.
    Somebody have a similar experience?

    I tried to make my own filter with “Color Sync Utility”, I even select a bigger reduction, but got the same file size 55.9 MB.

    Anybody that can help… or should I through my mac to the garbage…


  47. chua says:

    after trying this features for many times, i found the issue.
    this reduce pdf file size feature is great for pdf that is mainly text.

    if ur pdf is image, then the reduce file size feature will make your image blur and not readable

  48. Combaticus says:

    Thanks for the tip, but I have to agree with I hate my new mac. The file size reduces but the text is now illegible. That’s not very helpful.

  49. simone says:

    yes, you were right! i’ve considered purchasing a 3rd party software to convert my doc files into pdf.

    truly, truly helpful! many thanks!

  50. Ann Kroeker says:

    Thank you so much for solving my problem of gigantic pdf file!

    With gratitude for your time and explanation,
    A New Mac User

  51. chua says:

    hmmm from what i know you need to do this manually.
    May i know what application u use to create the pdf?
    you might want to check the application that generate invoice pdf, and it might be able to be change some settings to generate lighter pdf file

  52. KRD says:

    Is there any way that you can set it as a default setting? I keep sending out invoices in PDF formats and clients find it easier when its a smaller size. Any way in doing so?

  53. mm says:

    I will join the chorus, most happily! This is a VERRY helpful tip. Thank you SOSOOSO much!

  54. Mike says:

    I just tried this with a pdf-file of 3.5 MB and it work as it should. Now it is 717 kB with quality the same as far as I can see.

    Thanks a lot!

  55. Kendra says:

    This tip worked great! I had a 332 K Word document with pictures and graphics that the regular way I used (with print) converted to a 3.5 MB pdf. I used this tip and it is only 132 K pdf! It looks and prints exactly the same! Thanks so much!!

  56. A says:

    Brilliant tip!!! didn’t know it was so simple!!! thanks again

  57. Sean says:

    Thanks so much, I have been trying different ways all weekend, so simple!!!!

  58. Annie says:

    Fantastic!!!! My file went from 1.6M to 206k !!!!!
    the smaller file has the exact same quality as the larger file
    when i open it on my mac. I have not yet tried to print it though….
    Thank you so much. You just saved me so much time and grief.

  59. Sarah says:

    Brilliant! I have been trying to do this for months! Thank you for one of the most useful tips around. It works perfectly and my file is still showing in good quality…7 pages with text and 18 photos. Again…Brilliant!

  60. Alex says:

    hahahah it’s so simple! Thanks so much! I also used your how to save as .pdf from .doc and it’s just so simple I can’t believe I didn’t see it myself. Thanks again!

  61. herk says:

    for me is all the same with the pictures looks as it was great tip thanks!

  62. chua says:

    hmmm i tried with pdf file that contain pictures and text.
    after the resize everything still looks the same …
    nvm i’ll try to check what’s went wrong for u

  63. John says:

    Or I could of just listened to my friends and stuck to a PC instead switching to the Mac 😉

    Thanks mate this has been causing me great grief!

  64. I hate my new mac says:

    Yer, it reduces the file size by 80%, but the quality is so shit you can’t read anything.

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