How to Reduce PDF File Size in Illustrator

If you’re eager to know how to reduce PDF file size in Illustrator while still maintaining a high quality of image for print or high-resolution screens, my tutorial will take you through some simple options you can use during the save process.

Video Tutorial

If you want to watch along as I demonstrate some of these techniques on a simple 4-page document, feel free to watch the video tutorial above. Or, you can proceed to the written tutorial below.

Step-by-Step Written Tutorial

How To Reduce PDF File Size in Illustrator

Step 1 – With your document open, check that you are ready for export by double-checking the page size and color mode (CMYK for print). From there, go to File > Save As.

Step 2 – When the ‘save as’ box appears, set your format to ‘Adobe PDF’ and select ‘all pages’ (unless you want to export part of the document, in which case select the ‘range’ option and your page range e.g. 3-8). Choose the save location and type your file name, then click ‘save’.

Step 3 – When the ‘Save Adobe PDF’ box appears, there are a few options we can use to reduce file size. Under ‘general’, check off ‘preserve Illustrator editing capabilities’ (remember, you’re keeping the original .ai file, so you should use that to make changes) and check on ‘optimize for fast web view’.

Step 4 – Under the ‘compression’ tab, under ‘color bitmap images’ set ‘average downsampling to 300ppi for images above 300ppi’, set compression to ‘automatic (jpeg)’ and set the image quality to ‘high’ or ‘maximum’, so that you still have a high quality print.

Step 5 – This step is optional, but if you are sending the file to to print it is good practice to check ‘use document bleed settings’ (if they have been set up) and select ‘trim marks’ under ‘all printer’s marks’. Then, click ‘save PDF’.

Step 6 – If you get the following message reminding you that you have deselected editing capabilities, simply press OK. Remember, we have the original .ai file to make changes in.

It’s that simple. In the video above, at the end I compare the reduced PDF with a PDF I saved with default options set to maximum quality, wherever I could.

In that example alone I was above to reduce the file size by 85%, and that is using a document that uses only vector images and assets. If you have large jpegs and other files embedded in the document, you should see considerable file size reductions.

If you’re designing your print PDF in Adobe Illustrator, these ‘save as’ options should help you lower your file size when exported while maintaining a high quality of image for print. I hope you found this tutorial helpful!

3 thoughts on “How to Reduce PDF File Size in Illustrator”

  1. This was exactly what I needed. In fact, it was even more helpful than Adobe’s own compression help article. So thank you for including all the little details about not just what to do, but *why.*

  2. Hi Dale,
    Thank you so much for your splendid explanation! It was unbelievably straightforward, and solved my problem on how to compress such a huge file without losing its quality, in an instant (-:
    Have a great day!!


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