One can use Preview to compress a PDF. However Preview on Mac OS X 10.7 does a too hard compression for my taste. There is only one compression setting.

Are there alternative tools that allows you to adjust the compression ratio?


As Guy mentioned, ColorSync Utility is what your looking for. For me the standard compression was also too little resolution & too lossy compression. So I created a new filter in ColorSync - which then becomes available in e.g. Preview: Resolution 200 dpi, jpeg quality ~75%

Step 1: Open ColorSync Utility & create the new filter such as below

Screenshot: New ColorSync filter

The above settings give me files with acceptable size and decent quality (e.g. for sending by e-mail)

Step 2: Open the PDF in Preview, then choose File > Export, Click the Quartz Filter pop-up menu, then choose the relevant filter ("Reduce File Size 200dpi" in this case)

Apple Preview, export PDF

Edit 2011-12-18: Seems for Lion it's not that straight forward regarding Preview integration. See here:

Just copy your filter from /Users/YourName/Library/Filters/ to /Library/PDF Services/ and the customized profile will be back in preview.

  • On MacOs Mojave 10.14.1 settings shown as not adjustable, so you need to copy filter. – mrgloom Dec 8 '18 at 17:16
  • I'm not convinced by the need to move the Filters for Lion, and there's certainly no need to in Mountain Lion onward. User-created filters should work fine in <user>/Library/Filters. Having the filter in PDF Services means it will show up in the PDF button of the print menu. – benwiggy Aug 7 at 8:28
  • Just in case anybody else is confused about how to create a setting which is adjustable. Using the + button won't work, instead you have to click on the triangle next to an existing filter and then use "Duplicate Filter". – mdomino Sep 26 at 21:41

Ahhh! Turns out that you can fine tune the quartz filter that Preview uses. This might be a faster way to compress:

This is from a review of PDFCompress on Macupdate.com:

With Quartz Filters, you can take total control of the compression process. In Leopard (perhaps Tiger or earlier, I'm don't recall), in your Utilities folder you'll find "ColorSync Utility". With this program, you can create you own quartz filters which allow to you compress PDFs as much as you see fit. When you start ColorSync Utility, you'll see how Apple programmed their "Reduce File Size" quartz filter that you see in Preview. It's remarkably easy to make your own filter by modeling it off Apple's filter. Head on over to for a quick tutorial. Also, some nice guy on Apple's Discussion boards put up a bunch of premade filters you can download that do the same thing. A follow-up poster even posted AppleScript code and Automator recommendations to make compressing PDFs a snap! Check out for more on that. Happy PDF-Shrinking!

  • 2
    Pleas share the link to the additional filters. – sorin Dec 15 '12 at 13:05

I have used PDFCompress for years. It offers multiple options and hs been continuously updated. Highly recommended, but now $30. There may be cheaper options, but this has worked well for me.



To compress a PDF using some settings, you can use PDF Toolkit+. It used to be $2, but it's currently free. It does not allow adjustable ratio, but has specific settings of 150 or 72 dpi.


To compress a PDF using some settings, you can use PDFOptim - http://rootrisetech.com/product/pdfoptim

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