Acrobat: Reduce the file size of a scanned PDF

February 22, 2011

My friend and ex-roomie, Kristin, emailed me with a problem. She had a couple of large PDF documents and she wanted to know if I could reduce them in size without them ‘going fuzzy’.

The documents were a 2-page statement of academic and extra-curricula record from her son’s school, and his end of Year 12 school reference (1 page). Both had been scanned as images from the originals, and both were well over 4 MB in size, even though they were small in their number of pages.

I tried several methods using screen capture tools without much success, then remembered reading about something in Acrobat that compresses or reduces a file’s size. A quick hunt in the menus and I found it (in Acrobat 9 Professional, it’s PDF Optimizer under the Advanced menu).

I ran PDF Optimizer, leaving all the default settings as they were, and it reduced the file size for both documents to just over 200 KB each.

I was happy, Kristin was happy, her son was happy, and I didn’t even have to fiddle with any settings!

One comment

  1. Yes, that is a great feature of Acrobat Pro. I believe it was “Reduce File Size” under the File menu in earlier versions. Indispensible, in my opinion.
    I think there is a gotcha. These types of scans may be easy to reduce. I think a document with a photo (lots of pixels) may be the type that doesn’t reduce well. Trial and error.
    It may also be the printer’s scan method (I think). My husband has scanned photos for his online book sales. Our old Brother printer scanned them at 25 MB (BMP). He converted them in Paint Shop Pro. Our newer Canon MP190 is more conservative with the bits and bytes.

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