Less is more: PDF Compressor

Saving a document as a PDF generally produces a very small file, which is one reason the format is such a popular way to share information.

There may still be room for improvement, though. So if it’s important your PDF’s are as lightweight as they can possibly be, it might be a good idea to check your current compression rates by passing them through the free PDF Compressor.

The program opens with a clear and simple interface, inviting you to “drag and drop files or folders here”. Oddly this didn’t work for us, but you can also click “Add” and select your documents manually, and that was enough to add our test PDFs to the import queue.

You could then choose from various output options. PDF Compressor can overwrite your original files with the compressed versions, for instance; write new files to the source folder, or output them somewhere else entirely.

The default options are entirely safe, though, so if you’re in a hurry you can just click “Start Compression”, then watch as the program zips through your files and writes new versions (even large documents were processed in seconds for us).

The results, though, were initially disappointing. 11 of our 36 test files remained entirely unchanged, most of the rest lost under 10KB, even the best case saw only a loss of 48KB (12%).

One reason for this appears to be that the program, by default, uses lossless compression. If you enable lossy compression in the program’s Settings dialog, though, it will rewrite your documents, in particular turning down the quality of JPEG images. And while this is much slower, and some files stubbornly remained unchanged, many documents now dropped in size by 20% at least, some considerably more.

There are also some problems here. The program proved unable to rewrite some documents, for instance. And worse still, one of our files was seriously corrupted (557KB of text reduced to four blank pages). The source copy was still fine, of course, but the fact that errors can occur means you’ll have to check every compressed document carefully to make sure it contains all the content you were expecting.

Still, if you need to widely distribute some PDF files -- on a website, say -- then it’s still a good idea to test them with PDF Compressor. There are no adware hassles with the program, it’s quick and easy to use, and you just might find there are significant savings to be made.

Photo Credit:  FotoYakov/Shutterstock

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