Best PDF compressors in February 2023 for Windows, Mac, Android and online

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A shelf filled with folder files.
(Image credit: Pixabay)

The best PDF compressors focus on reducing file sizes when you’re sharing or storing documents. 

PDF document sizes are small - they’re designed for sharing across multiple devices and with multiple users. But once you start adding images and graphics, that file size can increase. 

The best PDF editors and many free PDF editors let you compress PDFs online and on apps for desktop and mobile. Professional software is feature-filled, useful if you’re a power-user doing more than reducing file sizes. But others offer streamlined free PDF compression for now-and-then use. These make your documents more manageable, freeing up physical and cloud storage space while making them easier to share with clients and colleagues. 

To help you identify the right PDF reducer for the job, we’re testing out the best PDF compressors on the market. As part of these tests, we’ve looked at the speed and process, and available platforms. We include pricing and value, and online collaboration tools.  

The best PDF compressors of 2023

(Image credit: Adobe)
Best PDF compressor overall

Reasons to buy

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Full suite of PDF tools included
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Best-in-class compression software
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Versatile and easy to use

Reasons to avoid

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Subscription-only
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Features focused on professional use

Adobe Acrobat is our top choice for best PDF compressor overall. But then, perhaps it is not surprising that the inventors of the PDF would have one of the best PDF compressor software. 

When we dived into the tool, we were delighted to find a fully-featured PDF editor. Awarding it a rare 5 stars, "sometimes," we wrote in our review, "the best solution on the market has its reputation for a reason." It might be overwhelming (or even overkill) for casual users, but overall, we found Acrobat DC a top choice for serious users needing lots of advanced features. 

Going beyond simple file compression, Adobe Acrobat features several optimization tools that enable you to control the quality and file size of your PDF compression. A blurry and unreadable PDF is of no use to anyone. With Adobe Acrobat, you can be confident you’ll end up with a high-quality compressed file every time.

This isn't a budget PDF compressor - like most Adobe products, it requires a monthly or annual subscription to gain access to best-in-class tools. Businesses can purchase Adobe Acrobat Standard for Windows devices only, or Adobe Acrobat Pro for Windows and macOS.

For more details, see our guide How to try Adobe Acrobat for free or with Creative Cloud (opens in new tab)

Read our full Adobe Acrobat review

(Image credit: SmallPDF)
Best PDF compressor online

Reasons to buy

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Subscription includes full suite of PDF tools
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Offline PDF compression
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Several options for PDF compression

Reasons to avoid

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Not a budget option
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UI can feel disjointed

SmallPDF is one of the most popular PDF compressors available, and justifiably so. More than merely a compressing tool, SmallPDF provides a suite of PDF tools that will surpass most businesses’ needs. 

While reviewing the software, we found it's "great for converting PDFs or for using one tool at a time. However, if you have a lot of different kinds of edits that require different tools, SmallPDF starts to show its weaknesses."

Although a 14-day free trial is offered, users will need to pay for a pro subscription if they want to continue using it. With a pro subscription, you will have access not only to online PDF compression, conversion, and merging, but also features such as e-signing, page rotation, and encryption. Premium customers can also download and use SmallPDF's offline PDF compression software. Offline software makes it even more straightforward to compress PDFs. 

We also like that SmallPDF provides numerous resources for businesses, explaining how the technology works and how you can make the most of it. For businesses, there could be few better choices for PDF compression than SmallPDF.

Read our full SmallPDF review

(Image credit: Soda PDF)
Best free PDF compressor

Reasons to buy

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Both free and paid products available
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Premium subscription includes offline PDF compression

Reasons to avoid

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Freemium pricing model may not suit medium or large businesses
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Web-based PDF compression is slow

Soda PDF is a high-quality, reliable PDF compressor that is free to use. It also offers a paid desktop application for businesses wanting a premium PDF compression solution. 

We were big fans of the tool when we reviewed it, calling it "a versatile, well-designed, online PDF editor with numerous tools to hand to make all the changes you need making to a document, from minor typos to pretty much starting from scratch."

The free online tool is easy to use and integrates with cloud storage platforms Google Drive and Dropbox for easy uploading. Compressed files retain most of their original quality and are easy to email or upload. If you’re looking for a free PDF compressor, it’s hard to go past Soda PDF. 

Although the online tool is useful and may serve many businesses’ needs without any need to purchase a subscription, we recommend the Soda PDF Business plan. Soda PDF’s premium product includes a full suite of PDF management tools, such as intelligent PDF compression, file encryption, and file format conversion.

Read our full Soda PDF review

(Image credit: Wondershare)
Best PDF compressor for beginners

Reasons to buy

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Both online tools and desktop application
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Full suite of powerful PDF management tools

Reasons to avoid

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No monthly subscription option
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PDFelement Standard doesn’t include PDF compression

PDFelement is another powerful and reliable toolbox for all things PDF. It has an easy to use interface and offers a wide range of features, including uncommon features such as optical character recognition (OCR) conversion and optimization. However, when it comes to PDF compression, we’re a little disappointed. 

Although Wondershare’s PDF compressor works perfectly, it is only available with PDFelement Pro (the more expensive of Wondershare’s two PDF management products).

We would recommend PDFelement to businesses looking to invest in an integrated PDF management solution, as it’s one of the best. But if you’re only compressing PDF files on the odd occasion, then we’d recommend considering one of the cheaper or free PDF compressors. There are also no monthly subscription plans — you'll either have to pay for an annual plan or a bi-annual plan.

Read our full PDFelement review

(Image credit: PDF Compressor)

5. PDF Compressor

Best easy-to-use PDF compressor

Reasons to buy

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Free
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Available online as a web application

Reasons to avoid

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No optimization features
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Processing can be slow

PDF Compressor is one of the best free online PDF compressors. There’s no software to download, so you can use the platform directly from your web browser. It might not be the most attractive website, but having used the tool for years, we can confidently say it does what it says it does: compress PDFs. 

Although there are no options for optimizing compressed PDFs, we’ve found that compressed PDFs are still of a high quality. However, we’d make sure to check large documents before sending them. It’s also worth mentioning that PDF Compressor converts documents to and from PDF format, which can be a helpful additional feature for businesses. 

There’s not much else to say about PDF Compressor. It’s free, it works, and the company has monetized its site with ads, ensuring the tool remains free to use. The only negative is that it has a limit to the size of file it can work with, such as the 1.5GB one we tried.

Best PDF compressors: FAQs

How to choose the best PDF compressor for you

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Before you choose the best PDF compressor, you’ll want to understand what your requirements are. If all you want is simple PDF compression, then a PDF compressor with a simple interface will be great. But your options will be quite different if you need advanced tools, like PDF editing and file converting. 

If you don’t need PDF compression often, then a free online tool would be a smart choice, rather than purchasing an entire app dedicated to compressing. Similarly, if you compress many PDFs regularly and want them to retain their quality, opting for paid software will be wiser.

What is a PDF compressor?

A PDF compressor reduces the size of a PDF file so that it's easier to share and store. The best PDF compressors will compress files efficiently without lowering their quality too much. If you have a lot of files to store or share, or your PDFs contain images that demand their original resolution, PDF compressor software is ideal. 

Many of the best options offer PDF compression across desktop, iOS and Android apps, and online. Free PDF compressors tend to only offer PDF compression online. So, with the right tool to fit your workflow, you can reduce PDF file sizes wherever you're working. 

Do I need a PDF editor for PDF compression?

Most PDF editors - certainly the paid-for software - offer file compression tools for reducing PDF document sizes. However, it's worth considering whether you need all the additional features these provide, such as eSign software, OCR software, and the like. If you're constantly in and out of PDFs and creating or making changes to documents, then they're absolutely essential. 

The best PDF compressor: How we test

To find the best PDF compressor, we evaluated many applications. We looked at basic aspects, like online or local availability, interface simplicity, and whether the software was free or paid. 

We analyzed the compression file limit, speed, and quality to identify which apps were compressing well without lowering the file quality excessively. We also considered the apps' additional PDF tools and compared their pricing models. 

For the paid applications, we checked if they were offering free trials and how comprehensive the trials were. We also assessed how much value for money premium PDF compressors offered. 

Beyond that, we also explored the overall design and user experience of each tool, checking how accessible and easy it is to use and whether navigation is intuitive.

Darcy French