PDFs provide a great way to share documents across multiple platforms, all without worrying how the format will display on Windows, Mac, phone or tablet.

One downside is that the size of the files can be substantially bigger than a comparable Microsoft Word or standard text document. There are ways to make these smaller though, thanks to free web services and free trial software. We show you how to reduce the size of PDF files.

Reduce PDF size using free web services

A quick and easy way to make PDF files smaller is to visit one of the free websites that offer this service. A few popular options include SmallPDF, PDF Compressor, PDF2Go, and I Love PDF. For this tutorial we’ll be using the latter.

Go to I Love PDF and either click the Select PDF Files button or if you have the file to hand you can click and drag it onto the area around the button.

how to reduce pdf file sizes

After clicking Select PDF Files you’ll see an Explorer window open up which you can use to navigate to the PDF. When you find the one in question, highlight it and click Open.

how to reduce PDF file sizes

The PDF will now appear in the centre of the screen with three options listed below. These are Extreme Compression, Recommended Compression, and Less Compression.

The higher the level of compression, the lower the size of the file, but this will also be accompanied by lower quality images. Depending on the nature of the PDF, select the appropriate level then click on the Compress PDF button found underneath the list.

how to reduce PDF file sizes

The site will now go about reducing the size of the file. Once this is done you’ll see a message confirming the process is over and a button marked Download compressed PDF.

Under the button there will also be an indicator of how much the file size has been reduced. In our case, after choosing the Recommended Compression option, the PDF was 51 percent smaller than the original.

how to reduce PDF file sizes

Click the Download compressed PDF button and you’ll soon be in possession of a diminutive file that can be more easily shared online.  

Reducing PDF file sizes using Adobe Acrobat

If you have a subscription to Adobe Acrobat Pro then you’ll be able to make use of the built-in optimisation tool that reduces file sizes. Those not paying for the service can still access the feature by taking out a seven-day free trial.

how to reduce PDF file sizes

Once you have the software installed and running, open the PDF in Acrobat and navigate to File>Save as Other>Optimised PDF. This will then create a smaller version of your file.

Should you wish to edit your PDF document further then it can be worth investing in a dedicated software package. Check out our Best PDF editors 2018 guide for a selection of our favourites.