PDF Optimization

This document reviews how to optimize PDFs for the web. If you need to optimize your images for the web, see our documentation on Image Optimization.

Optimizing your PDF files can reduce your file size and make your pages faster. At USD no file can be placed on the USD web server through Cascade Server that is larger than 1 MB. This helps ensure that the web experience is as fast as possible for site visitors.

There are several ways to make sure your PDF is optimized for the web. Here are some methods:

Note that the compression factor of each method will change depending on the specific file you are trying to optimize, so it is a good idea to try more than one method if the first one doesn't work for you. If you need a file to practice on, you can use a smaller version of the following example file: http://catcher.sandiego.edu/items/its/example-original1.pdf


  1. On an Apple computer open your PDF document using Preview. (right-click or control+click your document and select Open With: Preview).

  2. Go to File --> Export

  3. Name your exported document, and Under the Quartz Filter dropdown choose "Reduce File Size".

  4. Save your file and see if that successfully reduced it below the 1 MB size needed.


  1. Go to http://smallpdf.com in a web browser.

  2. Choose the "Compress PDF" option.

  3. Upload your PDF by dragging onto the webpage.

  4. Wait while it loads.

  5. You're done. See if that successfully reduced it below the 1 MB size needed.


Adobe Acrobat:

These instructions are using version 11 of Adobe Acrobat.

  1. Open your file in Adobe Acrobat.

  2. Go to "File" > "Save as Other..." > "Optimized PDF..."

  3. The automatic settings should serve as a good standard.

  4. Save your file and see if that successfully reduced it below the 1 MB size needed.

USD's Large File Server


After trying these methods, if your PDF is still larger than 1 MB, you will need to upload your pdf to USD's large file server, called catcher.sandiego.eduThese steps require you to have an account on Catcher. If you do not have an account, please submit an online web request with your MySanDiego username, department name, and the URL(s) of the website(s) you will be uploading large files to.

  1. Go to http://catcher.sandiego.edu and click on "Podcast (Large File) Uploads"

  2. Try to log in using your MySanDiego username and password. If you are unable to log in, please submit an online web request to request a catcher account (include your department name, username, and the URL(s) of the website(s) you'll need to post files to in the email).

  3. Select your department from the dropdown list and click "Change Account". You will only see this dropdown if you manage files for more than one department/area. If you do not see a department drop down, you can proceed without that selection. Your files will get routed into a general USD folder where everything will be stored.

  4. Choose "Upload new File" from the left-hand menu.

  5. Fill out a title and description and then choose the file you wish to upload. Then click Submit.

  6. You're done and the URL of your document will appear below the title of the page. Copy this URL and then paste it into the appropriate page in Cascade Server to create a link to this new file.