How to Reduce the File Size of a PDF for Email

By Dustin Thornton

If you have a PDF file that you want to send to a friend and your only choice is to email the file, you may need to reduce its size before you can send it. Fortunately, you have two different ways to do this -- one requiring the free Adobe Reader software and the other requiring the paid Adobe Acrobat PDF creation software. Both methods effectively reduce the size of the PDF file and make emailing it a much more manageable task.

Things You'll Need

  • Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Reader

Step 1

Double-click the "Adobe Reader" icon on your desktop or click "Start," select "Programs" and click on the program to open Adobe Reader.

Step 2

Click on "File" and select "Open." Navigate to the location of the file you want to reduce and double-click it to open it in Adobe Reader.

Step 3

Click "File" and select "Print." The print dialog box will appear.

Step 4

Click the "Name" drop-down menu in the dialog box and select "Adobe PDF."

Step 5

Click "OK." The save dialog box will appear.

Step 6

Enter a name for the reduced file, browse to the location on your computer where you want to save the file and click "Save." Adobe Reader will print the document to a PDF file and in the process reduce the size of the file. Reduction amount can vary greatly.

Step 7

Locate the new file on your computer. Right-click the file and select "Properties" to view its size.

Adobe Acrobat

Step 1

Double-click the "Adobe Acrobat" icon on your desktop or click "Start," select "All Programs" and click on the program to open Adobe Acrobat.

Step 2

Click "File" and select "Open." Navigate to the location of the file you want to reduce and double-click it to open it in Adobe Acrobat.

Step 3

Click "Advanced" and select "PDF Optimizer" from the list of options in the drop-down menu. The PDF Optimizer window will appear.

Step 4

Click the "Images" option and change "Color Images" and "Grayscale Images" to "72 ppi."

Step 5

Click the "Discard Objects" option and place check marks next to each of the objects in the PDF that you want to remove. Each object takes file space. For example, you can discard bookmarks or discard the search index to make the file smaller.

Step 6

Click the "Discard User Data" option and place check marks next to each of the user objects in the PDF that you want to remove to reduce the size of the PDF. For example, you can discard file attachments to reduce the file size.

Step 7

Click the "Clean Up" option, then click the "Object compression options" drop-down menu. Select "Compress document structure." This option shrinks the size of the PDF document by removing any other useless items from the PDF, as well as optimizing it for fast Web view. Click "OK" to save the changes.

Step 8

Click "Document" in the file menu and select "Optimize Scanned PDF" if the PDF file consists of scanned images. The "Optimize Scanned PDF" window will appear. Move the slider bar to the left toward "Small Size." Note that the scanned images in the PDF lose quality as you make them smaller; opt for a balance between quality and file size. Click "OK" to save your changes.

Step 9

Click "File" and select "Save As." Enter a name for the reduced file. Browse to the location on your computer where you want to save the file and click "Save." Adobe Acrobat will save the file, reducing the size of the specified components. Reduction amount is based on which components you reduce and discard.

Step 10

Locate the new file on your computer. Right-click the file and select "Properties" to view the file's size.