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PDF Hacks
By Sid Steward
August 2004
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Refry Before Posting Documents Online
Run your assembled PDF through Acrobat Distiller to reduce its file size. In Acrobat 6, try PDF Optimizer
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You started with two or three PDFs, combined them, and then cropped them. Before going any further, consider running your assembled PDF through Distiller. This refrying can reduce duplicate resources and ensures that your PDF is optimized for online reading. It also gives you a chance to improve your PDF's compatibility with older versions of Acrobat and Reader. In Acrobat 6, you can conveniently refry a PDF without Distiller by using the PDF Optimizer feature. Even so, distilling a PDF can yield better results than the PDF Optimizer can.

Traditional Refrying with Distiller

Refrying traditionally has been done with a simple hack, reprinting the PDF out to Distiller, which creates a new PDF file:

  1. Save your PDF in Acrobat using the File → Save As . . . function. Acrobat will consolidate its resources as much as it can. Acrobat 6 does this more aggressively than Acrobat 5 does.

  2. Open the Acrobat Print dialog (File → Print . . . ) and select the Adobe PDF printer (Acrobat 6) or the Distiller printer (Acrobat 5).

  3. Set the Distiller profile by selecting Properties → Adobe PDF Settings and adjusting the Default Settings (Acrobat 6) or Conversion Settings (Acrobat 5) drop-down box. For online distribution, consider these profiles: eBook, Standard, Screen, or Smallest File Size.

  4. If you cropped your PDF, you should set the Print page size to match your PDF page size. In the Acrobat 6 Print dialog, adjust Properties → Adobe PDF Settings → Adobe PDF Page Size to fit your page. Use the Add Custom Page . . . button if you can't find your page size among the current options. In the Acrobat 5 Print dialog, adjust Properties → Layout tab → Advanced . . . → Paper Size to fit your page. Select PostScript Custom Page Size if you can't find your page size among the current options.

  5. Print to Distiller. Do not overwrite your original PDF.

  6. Review the resulting PDF. Is its file size smaller? Is its fidelity acceptable?

  7. Reapply page cropping as needed. You might need to rotate some pages.

  8. To restore bookmarks and other features, see [Hack #61] .

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