PDFs Saved For Web Are Larger Than They Need To Be

Banging your head against the wall wondering why your PDFs that you want small are much larger than they need to be? Perhaps you are just looking to make them as small as possible to have the fastest download time when they are published on the internet.


Adobe loves to save a bunch of extraneous in many of its tools: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, or Adobe Acrobat. Things like image thumbnails, bookmarks, search indexes, and a bunch of things that Acrobat can figure out after it opens the PDF.

Detecting It:

  1. Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro or comparable product.
  2. Go to the Advance Menu => PDF Optimizer => Audit space usage button.
  3. Look at the "Document Overhead" line.

If it seems high, you have come to the right place.

How to Optimize Your PDFs:

There is no way to solve this during saving in InDesign or Illustrator, but you can solve it as a second step after saving. There will be no reduction in quality from these steps.

  1. Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro or comparable product.
  2. Go to the Advance Menu => PDF Optimizer.
  3. Turn off (remove the checkbox) for the "Images" line (so that you don't lose any actual image quality)
  4. Under The "Discard Objects" line
    • Turn on "Discard all alternate images"
    • Turn on "Discard embedded page thumbnails"
    • Turn on "Discard document tags"
    • Turn on "Detect and merge image fragments"
    • Turn on "Discard embedded print settings"
    • Turn on "Discard embedded search index"
    • Turn on "Discard bookmarks"
  5. Under the "Discard User Data" line
    • Turn on "Discard document information and metadata"
    • Turn on "Discard all object data"
    • Turn on "Discard hidden layer content and flatten visible layers"


Naturally if you are using the features of some of the above (like bookmarks), you would leave those alone.

It is a good idea to save the settings before continuing.

If You Found This Pleasant Solutions Blog Entry Useful

As always, if you found this article useful and you have a blog of your own, a quick mention would be always be appreciated. If you saw another place where people were asking for this information and did not have an answer yet, helping them out would also be good.