7 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Make a PDF Smaller on Mac

2019-03-24 21:54:58 / Posted by Megan Charles to PDF Follow @ Megan

Conveniences come at a cost, and PDF documents are no different. Some of the features we use can lead to large file sizes. Just think about how much storage space you can save if you reduce the file size of your PDFs on Mac. This will also help your clients to open the PDF files that you send via email or share on your website easily. But, how to make a PDF smaller on Mac?

When it comes to making a PDF smaller on Mac, Adobe Acrobat is often the best way to go as it can do all sorts of magic on PDF files. But there are surprisingly simple solutions to make a PDF smaller on Mac available, with no or affordable price. Please read on to find your way of making a PDF smaller on Mac.

Make a PDF smaller with Preview


  1. Easy to use
  2. Can work offline
  3. A solution built-in to macOS
  4. Provide decent result most of the time


  1. You can’t control the compression level
  2. Sometimes fails, resulting in even larger size
  3. Preview doesn't support making batch PDFs smaller in size on Mac
  4. File quality is lost when making a PDF smaller with Preview

To make a PDF smaller on a MacBook or iMac, Preview can be the first solution. As the built-in app of Apple, Preview is undoubtedly the most convenient way to reduce PDF file size for Mac users, though it does not support making batch PDFs smaller at one time.

Step 1. Open the PDF document you want to shrink with Preview.

Step 2. In the top menu bar, select File > Export. A dialog box will appear. If you don’t want the processed PDF to replace and overwrite the original file, rename it in the Export As field.

Step 3. Click the Quartz Filter dropdown list, and select Reduce File Size.

make a PDF smaller in Preview on Mac

Step 4. Click Save.

Make a PDF smaller on Mac with professional PDF compressor


  1. Provides 4 compression modes
  2. You can tweak image quality setting for more customized compression
  3. Can make PDFs smaller in batch
  4. Fast compression
  5. Highly retains PDF quality
  6. Can work offline


  1. Requires software installation

Cisdem PDF Compressor is a powerful PDF compressor to make single or multiple PDFs smaller on Mac. It provides four modes to make a PDF smaller in size but with a preferred dpi. In addition, you can customize the setting to get a reduced PDF file, while keeping their original quality formats. It can help you free up storage space and makes it easier and faster to email and share PDF files. It is the most efficient tool to shrink PDF file without losing quality on Mac.

Free Download

Step 1Add the PDF files

Download and install Cisdem PDF Compressor for Mac. Launch it. Drag the PDFs you want to resize into this app.

add files to cisdem pdf compressor 01

Step 2Customize settings

There are four compression levels: Minimal File Size, Small File Size, Medium File Size and Large File Size. Select an option according to your need. You can also manually fill the parameters for a preferred result.

To apply the same settings to all imported PDF documents, just select the checkbox before Apply to all. Click OK.

choose compress mode with cisdem pdf compressor

Step 3Start making a PDF smaller

In the main interface, click Compress. Click the folder icon to find the resized files.

make pdf smaller with cisdem pdf compressor

Note: Remember that there is always a tradeoff between compression/file size and good quality. There really is no magic solution for all documents, other than trying different settings and seeing which give the balance that you like best.

Compress PDF online


  1. Handy and easy to use
  2. Can work for all platforms
  3. No need to install any software


  1. Can’t work offline
  2. Can’t make multiple PDFs smaller at once
  3. You have no control over the compression
  4. Slow when compared with the offline solutions

You can also use web-based tools to make a PDF smaller on Mac as well as other operating systems such as Windows and iOS. Smallpdf is one of them. It also allows users to import PDF from cloud storage services such as Google Drive.

Step 1. Go to https://smallpdf.com/compress-pdf.

Step 2. Upload the PDF you want to resize. Wait for the uploading. Once the uploading is finished, the shrinking will automatically start.

Step 3. Click Download File to download the outputted file.

make PDF smaller online

Just as with any web-based app, it requires Internet connection. You need to upload your PDF to its server to make the file smaller. The site will permanently delete your file from their server. That being said, if your document contains something confidential, the best choice is to use desktop software with utmost security.

4 other ways to make a PDF smaller in size

#1 Make a PDF smaller in Adobe Acrobat Pro

For those who have Acrobat Pro products installed on their Mac computers. It’s can’t be easier to make PDF smaller.

Open a PDF in Acrobat Pro. Go to Tools > Optimize PDF. Click Reduce File Size. If a dialog box regarding compatibility pops up, click OK.

reduce file size feature in Acrobat Pro

Select a location on your Mac to keep the compressed PDF. Click Save. Now you can check if the result is satisfactory.

#2 Make a PDF smaller in Acrobat Reader

Acrobat Reader is freeware and doesn’t come with a feature to allow you reduce the size of your PDF. However, it can actually work for a certain type of PDF files.

  • Text only, without tables, etc.
  • It’s doesn’t matter if the images or formatting will be lost
  • Searchable and selectable

As long as your PDF meets the three criteria above, you can use Acrobat Reader to reduce the size of it. Nonetheless, this method is not widely applicable.

Open a PDF. In the top menu bar, select File > Save as Other > Text. Name the file. Select a folder. Click Save.

make PDF smaller in size in Acrobat Reader on Mac

#3 By zipping

You can also make a PDF slightly smaller by zipping it, which is also a solution built natively for your iMac or MacBook. In this case, you don’t be able to do it in batch.

Right click on the file that you want to make smaller on Mac. Click the Compress option. Find the Zip file under same directory as the original file.

how to make a pdf smaller on mac basic trick result

Besides PDF files, you can also utilize this trick to compress any files on your Mac, including but not limited to Word, Excel, JPEG and PPT.

#4 By converting

How to make scanned PDF smaller on Mac? It’s also a frequently asked question. Scanned PDF is image based and tends to be large in size. Suppose you have a 15MB scanned PDF. Can you make it significantly smaller (say to 2MB) without sacrificing lots of quality? No. It’s impossible.

But here’s actually a great solution.

If a scanned document is too large to email or for other purposes, you can actually make it significantly smaller by converting PDF to Word on Mac while keeping the original formatting, images (without losing quality), layout, etc.

To sum up

This article on how to make a PDF smaller on Mac talks about several great ways that can help you shrink big MB-sized PDF to small KB-sized PDF with good quality. If your work involves lots of PDFs, then desktop software like Cisdem PDF Compressor will be useful. If you only occasionally resize one or two PDF files, you can use online tool. In addition, you can also use software such as Bluebeam and Photoshop.

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1 Comments Leave a Reply

  • Josh New

    Honestly, when choosing a tool to reduce PDF size, preferably free! But, in light of my experience with online services, paid ones prove themselves better.

    3 years ago REPLY