I'm looking to optimize scanning with OSX's native scanner. Ideally I would like it to be able to produce a multi-page black & white pdf that is under 1MB in size, however, I can't figure out a way to make this happen.

Often I'll have people send me the same document that is under 500KB, but when I print it out, sign it, and then scan it back in, it ends up being a very large document. Also, if I set it to under 200dpi, it seems my quality suffers noticeably, and even at 72dpi (which is pretty much blurry), I end up with documents over 1MB.

My settings are the following:

  • Kind: Black & White
  • Resolution: 200dpi
  • Size: US Letter
  • Format: PDF (combine into single document)
  • All other options: None

Is this something OSX's native scanning program is just not up to? Are there better programs out there I should be using?

  • PDFPen will allow you to sign your PDF directly, without printing it out first.
    – Ash
    Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 11:53

3 Answers 3


Rather than using the native OS X scanner, I would recommend that you download the free trial of the commercial product Hamrick VueScan. I do a lot of scanning and I rely on it. It does very well in compressing text documents to small file size.

Aside from that, you should investigate what you can do with taking scans from the OS X native scanner and then running them (as TIFF, JPG or PDF) through Automator's image manipulation utilities for further compressing the images with Apple's Quartz Filters to make them smaller.

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  • 1
    Thanks for the recommendation. I actually ended up downloading PDFScanner from the Mac App Store, and it took the same document that at 200DPI was ending up at 20MB, scanned it in at 300DPI and left a file that was only 500KB, exactly what I was looking for. Also it's insanely simple to use. Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 20:30

I ended up grabbing PDFScanner in the Mac App Store. It is incredibly easy to use and did exactly what I wanted. For the same document that at 200DPI ended up at 20MB with OSX's native scanner, PDFScanner brought in at 300DPI and 500KB.

Hopefully there are still some tips on doing it natively without having to buy a separate program, but at $15 bucks, I'm pretty happy with my choice.


I made this free tool.

It's made to quickly and painlessly scan documents into a PDF on the desktop (single page or multipage). The resulting files are quite small.


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