Adobe’s PDF format can make your work shine with top-notch layout and graphics options. This look, however, can mean bloated file sizes that will overwhelm your email or USB hard drive. Windows, Adobe Acrobat and many third-party services can help you reduce these large file sizes but still keep your PDF and its content intact.

Reducing by Saving

Adobe Acrobat offers a save command that can reduce the size of your PDF quickly without altering its appearance. To use the feature, open your PDF with Adobe Acrobat. Click the “File” menu, “Save As Other” and click “Reduced Size PDF.” Acrobat will ask you what version compatibility you want and then automatically adjusts the PDF based on your selection.

Control and Optimize

Use Adobe Acrobat Pro’s PDF Optimizer if you want strict control over how the program will reduce your PDF file’s size. Access it in the same "Save As Other" menu, clicking on the “Optimize PDF” option. Select what items you would like compressed, such as images, fonts or transparency effects. You can also strip away user data and objects, such as bookmarks and hyperlinks, in the PDF Optimizer menu. When finished, click “OK” and then click “Save” to create a PDF with a smaller file size.

Zip It

If you want to keep the file as is and just reduce the size of it, Windows offers a compression tool that will help. Open File Explorer and locate the PDF file you want to shrink. Click the “Share” tab and then click “Zip.” This will create a compressed folder in the same location and with the same name as your file. The zip folder will be smaller than the PDF. When the folder is extracted, the PDF file will return to its previous size.

Third-Party Helpers

Many third-party tools can reduce the size of your PDFs as well. Applications that help you view and print PDFs -- such as PrimoPDF, PDF-XChange and PDF Compressor (links in Resources) -- have options that shrink your file in much the same was as Adobe’s Reduced Size PDF command. File reduction is typically done in the Properties menu on the Print screen, where you can select from resolution and print-quality options. These may provide a cheaper option if you don’t own Adobe Acrobat.