Why Are Photoshop PDFs So Big? How to Fix It

Have you ever noticed that when you export a PDF from Photoshop the file is huge? This can present a problem if you need to send the PDF through an email service or want to store many of them on your hard drive. So, why are Photoshop PDFs so big and what can you do about it? 

Photoshop PDFs are large because they are essentially one big image file. However, there are a few ways you can make them smaller. Two of the most common ways are to adjust the settings on how your PDF saves in Photoshop itself or use Adobe Acrobat to compress the file.

If you’ve created a PDF with Adobe Photoshop that you need to shrink, you’ve come to the right place. In our guide below, we will start by explaining, in greater detail, why Photoshop files can be so large. After that, we’ll turn our attention to how you can make them smaller, presenting you with two different methods. So come along and let’s dive right in!

Why is My PDF File So Large?

A PDF created in Photoshop is essentially one large image. That image is made up of layers, text, designs, and other images. These all compound to make its file size bigger. 

That means that if you have a PDF with a background, banners, images, and text, each part will have to be rendered into the image. This can pile up and lead to a PDF that seems a lot bigger, as a file, than it should be. 

How Do I Reduce the Size of a PDF in Photoshop?

There are a couple of ways of tackling this problem. You can reduce the size by changing the settings of your PDF in Photoshop itself, or you can use Adobe Acrobat’s PDF Optimizer to compress the file after it’s exported. 

In the sections below we will explain how to do both methods–through Photosphop and Acrobat–so you can try the one that makes the most sense to you: 

Step By Step: How to Reduce the Size of a PDF in Photoshop

If you decide to take the Photoshop route, you’ll need to know which settings to adjust. That’s why below, we’ve listed out which settings to watch out for in our step by step guide:

  1. Pull up your file on Photoshop: Open the file you’re working on, not an exported version. How you save it is going to determine how compressed it is. 
  2. Go to “save as”: This can be found under “File” at the top of the screen. 
  3. Format as a PDF: You should see two dropdown boxes in the window that opens up. One says “File Name,” while the other says “Format.” Click on “Format” and find “PhotoShop PDF”. Once you’ve done that, hit save.  
  4. Uncheck “Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities”: After you hit “save,” a window should open up. Under “Options” uncheck the box next to “Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities.” This alone will cut down on the size of the file. 
  5. Go into “Compression”: This will be in the same window, on the left side. Click on it and the options on the window should change. 
  6. Change image quality: The image quality should be set on maximum by default. We recommend changing it to high instead, using the drop down box. If you really need to email it, you can change it to something lower but it will have noticeably less quality if you do. On high, however, you may not even notice the difference. 

This is perhaps the most direct way to reduce the size of your PDF. Still, there is another option, which we will break down in the next section. 

Step By Step: How to Reduce the Size of a PDF in Adobe Acrobat

Your other option is to use Adobe’s PDF optimizer tool. Unlike the last option, with this one you will be reducing the size of an already saved PDF. Follow the steps below to use Adobe Acrobat to reduce the size of your PDF: 

  1. Open the PDF in Acrobat: Again, this will be a PDF you’ve already exported. 
  2. Go into the PDF Optimizer: This can be found under tools. Just scroll down and click on it. 
  3. Select “Reduce File Size” from the toolbar: This toolbar should appear right above the PDF. 

From there, Acrobat will make changes to minimize the size of the PDF. If you need the size reduced even more, you can go into “Advanced Options” and change things like layers and transparency. 

Which Approach to Compressing a PDF is Better?

While both of these methods will work to make your PDF smaller, we’d recommend just doing it through Photoshop itself. Since you’ve already got the file in Photoshop, it just makes more sense to do it there. 

Still, if the file is already saved and you don’t want to go through the hassle of saving it again, then the Acrobat method should work just fine. 

Does Compressing a PDF Lose Quality?

There is some quality lost when you compress a PDF, regardless of whether you did it through Photoshop itself or Adobe Acrobat. Still, if you selected “high quality” over “maximum” it will not really be all that noticeable.

A big part of the problem with Photoshop PDF is that they take up extra space because they are still editable within the software. 

So Really, Why are Photoshop PDFs So Big and How Do You Fix It?

Photoshop PDF’s are large because they are essentially editable image files. They are filled with layers, other images, text, banners, backgrounds, and whatever else you’ve added to them. Further, by default, Photoshop saves them at the maximum quality. At this quality, you receive a sharper image but it also takes up considerably more space. 

To fix this problem, you simply need to follow the steps we outlined above when you save the file. To review those you will want to make sure you save the format as a PDF and adjust the options appropriately. These include unchecking “Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities” as well as going into compression and changing the file quality to “high.”