Monday, January 10, 2011

Reducing the file size of PDFs exported from Illustrator

Kim wrote to me today and asked

"In Illustrator, we make our PDF files via File > Save As: Adobe PDF. But Illustrator makes the PDF file sizes VERY large, even when saving as Smallest File Size. What can we do about this?"

All recent versions of Illustrator default to saving a copy of the entire .AI file inside the saved PDF file, so that Illustrator can open and edit the PDF file later. This makes it handy if you don't want to keep track of a separate .AI file and .PDF file. You can have a single PDF file that is editable in Illustrator, but also viewable by others with Adobe Reader. The big downside is that the file is large.

The workaround is to just save and maintain a .AI version of the file for editing purposes, and a separate .PDF file for sending you your print vendor or for others to view. Here's how:

First, make sure you've saved your work as an Illustrator .AI file.

Next, choose File > Save a Copy, choose Adobe PDF for the Format, and click the Save button, you'll see the dialog pictured below.

Just deselect the Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities option, then click the Save PDF button. You may see the warning pictured below. If so, just click the OK button, as long as you've previously saved a .AI version of the file.

The exported PDF file should be much smaller.

19 comments:

KJE said...

After that you can also use Acrobat to make the file smaller. Choose Document > Reduce file size. Use the default settings or adjust to your needs.

Tofy said...

And to make it eeeeven smaller... zip it before you email it.. but PDF's are probably the most secure file you can send over the internet.. zipping is really not needed. : )

Davis said...

I cant believe it, I have struggling with this issue for months. Thank You.

Anonymous said...

Big pat on the back for you mate. Just like 'davis' I have been scratching my head over this for a while.

Anonymous said...

Why did I not Google this before today... Thanks heeeeeaps buddy :-)

Jessie said...

It didn't work for me. My pdf still saved huge. Sorry to be the one to have a problem. I am still happy with the article. :)

Ingrid said...

Thank you so much for clearing up this issue - it's been giving me a headache for ages. Your tips worked like a charm and reduced my file size by 75%. Excellent!

Anonymous said...

The problem is is that every time I make the ai file bigger, then export it as a pdf, each new pdf gets bigger.

Example:
AI File - original - 200mb.
PDF Save File - 11.7mb

AI File - 1st edit - 220mb
PDF Save File - 12.7mb

AI File - 1st edit - 230mb
PDF Save File - 13.7mb

AI File - 1st edit - 260mb
PDF Save File - 14.7mb

Anonymous said...

I have been struggling with this- thank you so much! My printer appreciates it too!

Jannatul said...

Its really very effective tips. The size problem is a common problem for me. Thanks your tips work for me.

Hasu said...

This article is very useful for me. I will try urgent because i have struggling with issue two month. Thank you so much for wonderful sharing

Anonymous said...

Thanks heaps for this helpful post - saved me lots of time and frustration

Anonymous said...

You can choose the quality of the file from the drop down list above, and choose press quality which will reduce the file size more than 35% with the unchecked option of add the editable feature for the file.

Mangat Singh said...

Thanks this is working
80mb to reduce 1mb

Aimee Webb said...

thank you!

nickdonnelly said...

Something else to try - ensure 'Press Quality' PDF is selected when saving a copy of the file for print - in addition to deselecting 'preserve editing capabilities'.

This reduced my file size by 90%.

Anonymous said...

The big part of this tutorial is that his first option selected is [PRESS QUALITY] That's a huge space saver. Please update this tutorial to emphasize.

Ajit said...

i want less than 300 kb from 1.0 mb. is it possible?

Clipping Path service said...

Thank you so much for the article.