The best PDF compressors reduce file sizes for archiving or sharing - without documents losing any quality and resolution in the process.
PDF documents tend to be relatively small. They’re designed for sharing across multiple devices and users, after all. But once images and graphics are added, file sizes can grow, taking up too much physical and cloud storage space and making them too big to email. The best way to share these larger files is by compressing them, making them small enough to store and share easily.
If you need to share or store files, the best PDF editors and best free PDF editors often include efficient PDF compression tools. To make your documents more manageable, we’ve tested the best PDF compressors online, on mobile, and on desktop. As part of our review process, we’ve explored PDF reducer speeds, platform availability, and pricing, with paid-for and free PDF compressors to suit all users and budgets.
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The best PDF compressor of 2023
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
Read our full Adobe Acrobat review
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
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
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
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.
The company also claims to delete all uploads and conversations after an hour - a nice touch if you're concerned about your data falling into the wrong hands.
There’s not much else to say about PDF Compressor. It’s free and it works The only real stopper to the workflow is the platform's file size limits, which we encountered with the 1.5GB document we tried.
Best PDF compressors: FAQs
How to choose the best PDF compressor for you
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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.
Can PDFs be compressed?
If you're wondering 'Can PDF files be compressed?', the answer is yes. And the process is relatively straightforward when using any of the best PDF compressors in our round-up.
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 some of the best 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.
How we tested the best PDF compressors
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.
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