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Question: Reduce PDF file size : free Acrobat replacement for Leopard

*Well, at least this fits my need*, which to be able to email PDFs of my iWork or Office presentations with both :
*+ acceptable quality*
*+ acceptable file size*

It uses the poorly documented Quartz filtering ability for PDFs in Preview. There are a couple of articles I found here or elsewhere on the web, but they still don't make things simple.

You can manually edit those same settings (using Colorsync Utility) but can also benefit from my trial-and-error process and directly download from my iDisk.
After download and decompressions, *simply drag the downloaded "Filters" folder to your Library folder* (inside your user folder to install it just for this user, or at the root level of your hard disk in order to install it for all users) - And if you already have such a folder, simply copy the contents of the downloaded folder into it.

*Here are the filters :*
* http://idisk.mac.com/jcolas-Public*

Feel free to use, download, copy, use the idea ... in any way you like.

*Then, in order to create a compressed PDF with decent quality :*
+ Open your existing PDF in preview, or Print any document using "Open PDF in Preview" from the PDF pop-up menu in the Print dialog
+ Choose Save As in the File Menu (pretty easy I guess), then choose PDF as format, and one of the "Reduce to XXX dpi ..." Quartz filters, and click Save.

I included 8 settings which produce increasingly large files, with increasingly better quality.
I find the 150 dpi / average JPEG compression to be quite suitable for most purposes.

I have tried (before Leopard) PDF compression software like PDFshrink but was not satisifed with the results and interface.

These filters produce much better (better being in terms of consistency, file size and quality) than the filter Apple includes with Leopard (and maybe Tiger ?).
The Apple "Reduce file size filter" scales images by 50%, with target dimensions between 128 and 512 pixels, which can give very unusable results.

The filters I use 2 two things :
+ resample images to 75, 150, 300 or 600 dpi (I do not not if there is upsampling)
+ compress the images using Jpeg compression at average or low quality
Once installed, you can visualize, edit or copy them using Colorsync Utility (in the Applications/ Utilities folder)

As an example, using a 73 MB PDF from a 55 page Powerpoint presentation, the compressed files have the following sizes :
+ 75 dpi low quality : 2.7 MB
+ 75 dpi average quality : 3.2 MB
+ 150 dpi low quality : 4.2 MB
+ 150 dpi average quality : 5.3 MB
+ 300 dpi low quality : 7.6 MB
+ 300 dpi average quality : 10.2 MB
+ 600 dpi low quality : 16.0 MB
+ 600 dpi average quality : 20.3 MB

I don't think I'll be using Adobe Acrobat anytime soon.

"Thanks" a lot to Adobe for not being able to have a working version of Acrobat on Leopard until next January.
I hope many people (with needs similar to mine) will discover that they don't realy need it.

And I just wonder why Apple does not include these filters in Leopard.
Is this just in order to be nice with Adobe ?

Feedback or comments greatly appreciated.


MBP 17" 2.4Ghz/4GB, Mac OS X (10.5), and other Macs too

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Dec 15, 2007 5:16 AM in response to jerome1989 In response to jerome1989

Jerome Colas wrote:
Thanks First Magus (what does this mean by the way ?)

I think it's good for there because by tomorrow your post will be off page one and moving further back. By being in the User Tips section it may be available to more people over a longer period of time. I usually check the tips every few days for posts just like yours. You can get a lot of help from there.

User uploaded file

Dec 15, 2007 5:16 AM

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Dec 15, 2007 6:42 AM in response to First Magus In response to First Magus

Thanks again Mort.

After further testing, some files PDF appear to be more difficult to compress.
Fort another 63 page PPT presentation, the Leopard produced PDF cannot be shrinked to under 25 MB using my filters, which is still way better than its original 76 MB, but in no way comparable to an Acrobat DIstiller-produced very readable 7.0 MB PDF.

The difference is that this file was very heavy on Office-graphics (many Autoshapes, including miniaturized versions of some graphs on every page); and that Acrobat performs compression no only on images, but also on other aspects of the file.

Still, Quartz filters allow to produce very small yet usable PDFs for image-intensive documents.

Dec 15, 2007 6:42 AM

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May 20, 2008 3:22 PM in response to jerome1989 In response to jerome1989

All, very easy solution to reduce file size of pdf as follows:

In Acrobat Pro, select "save as"

Then under format select "Adobe PDF files, optimized"

Click 'settings'

Then adjust your image downsampling as you like. 100dpi works well for medium sized email attachments, 72dpi for smaller ones.

click ok and you're done.

20MB heavy image file > approx 4MB file @100dpi

20MB heavy image file > approx 1.5MB file @72dpi

May 20, 2008 3:22 PM

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Jul 4, 2008 6:35 AM in response to jerome1989 In response to jerome1989

You can also make an Automator print workflow to access this from the PDF services menu.

There are a lot of options you can pile on depending what you want:
Put the Apply Quartz Filter action into a blank automator workflow. It will ask you if you want to add a "Copy Finder items" action. Do so if you wish.
1) Either select the filter you want to use always, or set automator to show the action when it runs, which will allow you to choose the filter at "print" time.
2) If you wish to email the file, add a "New Mail Message" action.

I can't remember exactly when this is necessary, but sometimes process creates a temp file with an unusable name, you'll have to add a "Rename Finder items" action and set it to "name single item." Again, have it show this action so you can name the file as it is created.
The rename file command may be useful when printing Microsoft documents as they always send the file to the printer as "Microsoft Word document" or the like. The rename action will allow you to set the name to something useful when you email the document.

3) If you wish to save it, add a "Run Applescript" action and add this code:
on run {input, parameters}

tell application "Finder"

-- parse output folder and file names

set outfile to (choose file name) as string
set len to length of outfile
repeat with i from 0 to len
if text (len - i) of outfile is ":" then
exit repeat
end if
end repeat
set i to len - i
set outfp to text 1 thru (i - 1) of outfile
set outfn to text (i + 1) thru len of outfile
if outfn does not end with ".pdf" then
set outfn to outfn & ".pdf"
end if

-- parse input folder and file names

set parm to (item 1 of input) as string
set len to length of parm
repeat with i from 0 to len
if text (len - i) of parm is ":" then
exit repeat
end if
end repeat
set i to len - i
set infp to text 1 thru (i - 1) of parm
set infn to text (i + 1) thru len of parm

-- rename the file and move it to the output folder

set name of file parm to outfn
set tmp to infp & ":" & outfn
move file tmp to folder outfp with replacing

end tell
return true

end run
You will not have to use the "Rename" action as you are renaming in the applescript code.
4) If you wish to open it in preview, add an "Open Finder items" action--this could also be added after the save method above to see what you've saved.

Whichever method you choose, save it as a Print Workflow Plugin (Save as Plug-in…>Print Workflow).

I can't remember where I found the Applescript to save the file. It was somewhere on these forums, but I can't find it, now. You could also eliminate the save applescript and just open it in Preview, then save as from the file menu so you can review before saving.

Jul 4, 2008 6:35 AM

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Jul 13, 2008 7:09 PM in response to BullsEyePhotos In response to BullsEyePhotos

Thanks. I'm not running Leopard yet but I've learned to grab helpful files while available -- things have a way of disappearing on the net! FWIW, tho, I couldn't download the file in Opera, couldn't get a DL option at all, the arrow was read as a image. Go figure. I fired up Safari and all went well. As it happens, I am looking for a new scanner for my Mac. Was considering one which scans directly to PDF (Adobe needed, doesn't use TWAIN). For me, there are two problems with PDFs: humongous file sizes and usually poor legibility. So I dunno. PDF file sizes are a big deterrent to my getting into the biz of creating PDFs to store info.

Jul 13, 2008 7:09 PM

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Jul 27, 2008 4:59 PM in response to jerome1989 In response to jerome1989

Another easy way to reduce PDF file size (since for some reason it is much harder than it should be) is simply to re-save the file as a JPEG of the desired size and then re-save the resulting JPEG as a PDF.

Sounds complicated, but simple (and free!) considering the alternatives.

Jul 27, 2008 4:59 PM

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Question: Reduce PDF file size : free Acrobat replacement for Leopard