How to Compress a PDF File for Email

Updated April 17, 2017

If you try to include a Portable Document Format (PDF) file as an attachment to an e-mail message, a large file size may prevent you from sending your message. In this scenario, you will need to compress the PDF to a file size suitable for attaching to an e-mail.

Determine the current file size of the PDF you wish to e-mail. Right-click on the PDF icon with your mouse and choose "Properties" from the drop-down menu. Take note of the file size.

Verify the maximum file size that you can use for your attachment. Check with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or mail server administrator to confirm the maximum file size for an attachment. Ask for the maximum attachment size that your intended recipient can receive as well. Note the maximum size, as you will need to reduce the size of your file to meet this requirement. Microsoft Office recommends limiting the file size of an attachment to less than 2 megabytes (MB) as a best practice.

Open your PDF file using Adobe Acrobat Professional. Locate the "Advanced" option in the menu at the top of the application and click on "Advanced." Select "PDF Optimizer" from the drop-down menu. Leave the default settings in place and click "OK." According to the Office of Educational Development at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, you can compress a PDF file by more than 90% using Adobe Acrobat Professional's PDF optimisation tool.

Check the file size of your document again using the appropriate link in the PDF Optimizer---in Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional, click on the "Audit Space Usage" button. Change the specific settings associated with your document type and its contents, if the default settings did not sufficiently compress your file---for example, use the "Scanned Pages" panel to downsample (lower) the resolution of a scanned document.

Provide a file name for the compressed PDF file and save it in a location that you will remember. Check the file size of your new PDF by right-clicking on the PDF icon and choosing "Properties" from the drop-down menu. Verify that the file size does not exceed the maximum attachment size that you determined with the help of your ISP or mail server administrator. Compose a new e-mail message, attach your compressed PDF file and send your message.

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About the Author

Lynn Mathews is a freelance writer with a background in journalism and marketing. She holds a bachelor's degree in English/journalism and has been writing for more than 10 years. Most recently, her writing has appeared on eHow.