Shrinking pdfs
May 14, 2015 6:17 AM   Subscribe

What is the best non online tool to compress existing Pdfs? For Windows computers and not online. Paid is fine if it's highly recommended.

The pdfs are sent from a range of sources and can be silly large and follow no good practice that I can discern. Some might be mostly images or scans. I just want to ensure they don't do terrible things to our system. The Internet is being unhelpful, or maybe I'm being useless. The tool really can't be online.
posted by tavegyl to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if it's "the best" but Acrobat Pro can do various things to reduce the size of PDFs. How effective it is depends on the reasons the file is large of course. Some things are easier to reduce the size of than others.
posted by primethyme at 6:30 AM on May 14, 2015

Foxit Reader does have this option, under printing--you can print the PDF to a second PDF with a lower resolution, remove color, etc. I haven't been able to get as good of a result using that method as an online one (smallPDF in my case), though...but if you can't do it online, Foxit might be a method to try. It's free.
posted by mittens at 7:25 AM on May 14, 2015

Ghostscript (cross-platform) can do this well. But you will need to be a little bit careful.

Unless you get deep down into the command line, Ghostscript will assume some defaults for you that may make some PDFs unusable, or at least, very ugly. Your files might be scans that you'd want to OCR later, and Ghostscript might lose too much resolution to make this possible. I feel your pain about huge files, though: we have a client who scans everything as uncompressed 24-bit images at 300 dpi, so each page is around 25 MB instead of 40 KB or so.

(From the same authors as Ghostscript is GSView, which is a cross-platform viewer/resaver for PDF, PostScript and XPS [!]. It's still kinda beta, but it does allow you to export files as PDF/A for archiving relatively easily.)
posted by scruss at 8:15 AM on May 14, 2015

I've always just used acrobat pro to do this, and it works easily and smoothly.
posted by advil at 8:31 AM on May 14, 2015

I use Libreoffice Draw. It's not perfect, but it's free and can be used offline. Open the PDF with LibreOffice, then go to File > Export as PDF. There you'll have options to reduce image resolution and decrease the JPEG compression quality. You can also add and delete pages in case there are pages you don't need. I've never had luck editing the contents of a PDF with LibreOffice, but it's worked fine for adding or removing pages and shrinking file sizes.

(I believe you have to install the entire LibreOffice suite, I don't think you can install just Draw. But to me that's not a big deal.)
posted by Tehhund at 9:32 AM on May 14, 2015

Some of your file size might be due to the program used to generate the .pdf's. We have both Bluebeam and Acrobat, the .pdf's form Bluebeam can be HUGE compared to the same image form Acrobat.
posted by rudd135 at 11:02 AM on May 14, 2015

Nthing just using Acrobat Pro. I haven't used it in a few years so I don't know what's changed, but I had to do quite a bit of work shrinking down some crufty PDFs and managed to go from ~750KB to ~50KB without sacrificing any quality just by removing artifacts that weren't needed. A PDF can have all sorts of embedded items (form fields, entire fonts, etc.) that can bloat file size.
posted by Ickster at 12:51 PM on May 14, 2015

(Acrobat Pro is nice, though mind-blowingly expensive. It's $25/month, $180/year, or $450 outright.)
posted by scruss at 8:45 AM on May 16, 2015

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