by Michael Miller on June 2, 2012
I HAVE A GIANT WORD/PDF DOCUMENT HELP ME WHAT DO I DO.
Panic not. First, I must congratulate you that you’ve noticed. Unless your document is so monstrous that you noticed its size because your computer started yelling at you, I’m glad you are being a conscientious citizen and not emailing 15mb files left and right, willy nilly. This is bad etiquette, poor form, not done.
On the other hand, you might want to get that file to someone, so what’s a good etiquette, fine form displaying individual to do?
First, a note: you might have been able to avoid this eventuality by not using large images in your documents to begin with. By and large, ‘large document’ issues that I’ve seen stem from the fact that people drop huge images into their Microsoft Word document and assume all will be well after they’ve dragged the image to the size they want – but Microsoft Word doesn’t do a great job at actually resizing the image, versus just displaying it as being smaller. But resizing images is probably a subject for another day.
In the meantime, here you are, large document in hand, and wishing it were smaller.
First, if it’s a Word document, save it as a PDF. Go to the File menu, choose ‘Print’ and in the dialogue box that pops up, click the ‘PDF’ Button that exists in the lower left hand corner.
Choose ‘Save as PDF’, make a note of where you are saving it to, and boom, you have a PDF of your Word document. Unless your recipients need to edit the document, that’ll do a better job of ensuring they get all the fonts, formatting, and images correctly anyway.
So! Now we have this PDF. Huzzah. Right click on it (If you don’t have a two button mouse, hold down the control key on the keyboard and click. Or, with a laptop, keep two fingers on the trackpad when you click the button) and choose ‘Open With’. This will give you a list of all the various applications that are capable of opening that particular document; select the one called ‘Preview’.
Preview may very well be what opens up your PDF’s by default anyway, but I wanted to make sure. It’s also a somewhat magical swiss army knife app for other things, but again – another day, another topic.
With the PDF in question opened in Preview, go up to the ‘File’ menu and select ‘Save As’. In the dialogue box that pops up, you will see a pop up menu titled ‘Quartz Filter’. THIS is where the magic happens. Select ‘Reduce File Size’.
Voila! This will create a copy of your file that is, hopefully, smaller than the original. Again, by the way, make sure to make a note of where you were saving that file.
Fun note: this has the potential of making your images look worse. As a rule of thumb, for the most part, that’s not the case, and in fact you generally won’t see any difference at all. But it’s a good idea to give the document a once over before you send it off to your boss or Angel Investor.
OS X has, for quite a while, included some powerful under-the-hood graphic manipulation abilities, and that’s what ‘Quartz’ is referring to: the 2D graphics engine of the operating system. Here’s a fun note for the super geeky among us.
Does this all seem very complicated? That’s terrible! Here, using Automator, I created a little program that will create a copy of your PDF and then apply the ‘reduce file size’ trick on it. You can download it here:
Automator is an incredibly powerful tool that your Mac ships with; it lets you take any number of pre-defined actions that Apple provides and string them together into ‘Workflows’ that you can then save as an application. It took me about twenty seconds to make the above program. If you’d like a step by step on making something like that yourself, let me know.
But Michael, you say, what if I have Windows? Are you some sort of Mac Zealot Crazy Person who never ever writes anything useful or helpful for those of us laboring with our (mostly) faithful Toshibas, Dells, and Hewlett-Packards?
Not at all! In fact, you can do some things with your versions of Word that the Mac version can’t.
To reduce file size in your Windows version of Word:
- Right-click the picture in your document.
- Select Format Picture from the shortcut menu.
- Select the Picture tab.
- Click the Compress button in lower left.
- Select your options.
- Click OK. (I’m sure that last step is always a surprise)
(You can right click and choose ‘Format’ for a picture in the Mac version as well, but the ‘Compress’ option is noticeably absent, for reasons best known to persons other than me)
By the way: turning off the ‘Fast Save’ feature on both the Mac and Windows version is a great way to keep the file size from growing too rapidly, and it’s a feature that isn’t very useful these days anyway. But I’ll let you figure that one out. Because while I can figure out how to reduce files sizes just fine, I seem unable to figure out how to reduce my sleep deficit.