How to Compress PDF Files


Lawyers are famous for bulging briefcases. In a world of emails with dozens of attachments and tricks to avoid page limitations like using 1.8 line leading instead of double spacing, what do you do if you have a portable document file that exceeds size limitations? How can you reduce the size of a pdf file? Technology creates solutions but sometimes works as a barrier.

The first step is to reduce the resolution of any images in the document. If the document is going to be viewed on a computer screen, images need only be set at a resolution of 72 dpi. Images created in the CMYK colorspace take up even more room. Convert all your images to 72 dpi RGB and you will see a substantial size savings.

There's a commercial program called PDF Squeezer ( that will do the work for you. At six dollars, this tool will not break the bank. Unfortunately, it's available for the Mac platform only. Will someone please banish the meaningless phrase "free download"?

If six dollars is too dear or if you live in a country subject to the American weaponization of finance, there's a free alternative for Linux:

If you simply must put 13 ounces into a 12 ounce container, use the Winrar compression program to split your file into pieces with a maximum size of 10 MB. Then you will be able to email the pieces. Just don't send one hundred of them in the same email.

Finally, if you are creating the document, do you have to send a pdf? PDF's are difficult to read on the go because in the hive mind, pdf=A4. This is not true. PDF's are size agnostic. You can create a pdf to match the screen size of an iPhone. Another alternative is not to use the pdf format all. Word documents can be exported to the ePub format with just a few more steps. Epub files are easy to share and read on smartphones.

OG lawyers may prefer printing and mailing the document. Which means labels and a program to format them. By the time all the set-up is finished, you could have typed five labels on a typewriter. Which is why law offices keep a few of the ancient venerable machines around.

And which is why some of them have bulging briefcases to carry around all the paper.

Next: the abomination that is electronic filing.