Sending PowerPoints as PDFs

When it comes to sending a PowerPoint document to others for viewing only, most people save as a PDF and then send it.

If you’re not currently in the habit of the practice of sending PDFs over PPTs, I highly suggest it. It keeps file sizes smaller, preserves formatting and helps with version control issues so others cannot edit it, assuming you don’t want them to edit it.

However, people usually overlook the idea of file compression before sending this PDF. The major contributing factor to excessive file size in PowerPoint is almost always image size. Images that haven’t been compressed before or during the presentation building process can add on massive amount of unnecessary megabytes.

PDFs over 10 megabytes are usually way too big to send via email and odds are can be compressed much more than this.

Lowering PDF File Size

Here’s two big tips on how to get that file size down:

  1. Use the “Reduce File Size” option in the File menu.
    Usually the “150 DPI” option is sufficient for both screen viewing and email sending. What this does is takes all of the images in a PowerPoint and compresses them and deletes and cropped areas. Once you’ve done this, the next step is…
  2. Save your PowerPoint as a PDF, then compress it.
    If you have Acrobat Pro, going to Save As > Optimized PDF will bring up tons of options to tweak and reduce the file size. For OS X users, I have been using custom quartz filters in the native Preview app. More on that right…. now.

Using Custom Quartz Filters in Preview

This tip is for OS X users only.

The Preview app is the app that usually is set to open PDF and image files in OS X. If you go to File > Export you’ll notice there’s a dropdown box titled “Quartz Filter”. I never paid much attention to this, but there’s an option titled “Reduce File Size” that caught my eye.

When using this option, it drastically reduced the file size of my PDFs. However, it ended up pixellated my images too much for my taste.

After a bit of research, I found that you can download custom filters and install them so they appear in this menu. The ones I ended up using are custom quartz filters by Josh Carr who borrowed the idea from Jerome Colas. In that link, the Read Me file listed on the page gives detailed instruction on how to install them, so I won’t go into that here.

The quartz filters I use on a regular basis are “110 DPI average quality” and “150 DPI average quality”. The 150 one should fit for most applications.

Once installed, you’ll be a PDF compressing machine.

Before and After Compression Results

Here’s some file size results using the methods above:

PPT file, before “Reduce File Size: 150 DPI” – 20.5 mb
PPT file, after “Reduce File Size: 150 DPI” – 19.9 mb
Saved as PDF, before using the 150 DPI quartz filter – 9.7 mb
Saved as PDF, after using the 150 DPI quartz filter – 3 mb

Boom. That’s some awesome compression right there with no degeneration in image quality.

NOTE: This won’t work if you have videos embedded in your PPT document.

Got any killer tips for compression?



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