This site seemed like the best match for my question.

So I'm about to graduate college, and I made a nice resume in Word. I used a kind of fancy tabling system that took me forever (I had no idea what I was doing), and threw in a small touch of color on the headings, converted to a pdf, and promptly lost the original document when my computer crashed. I'm trying to avoid remaking it entirely.

So I have this pdf, and it was perfect except that it said I was looking for an internship, which was inaccurate. So I photoshoped it to say a full-time job, and now it looks perfect.

So I go to upload it to my school's recruiting server, and it says Max FileSize Exceeded. I check the pdf's filesize: 35mb. You should have seen my jaw drop.

I really don't ever use photoshop, or do any sort of editing work. Not my area of expertise.

Can anyone explain why it's so huge, and is there a way to get it back under 500kb? The pdf has no graphics...except a smattering of very softly shaded table cells.

  • 2
    You would be better off opening the document in illustrator or acrobat pro and edit that then the nature of your doc would stay mostly the same.
    – joojaa
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 4:46
  • Some tricks to lower the size of a PDF using Acrobat Pro, even if it's a PDF from word: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/46153/…
    – go-junta
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 2:03

12 Answers 12


I removed a large white background layer, and opened PSD file in illustrator. Then saved as PDF from illustrator. ~40MB pdf file became 98.3KB . The file was full of shapes and texts.

  • Definitely the best answer. Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 16:48
  • I can confirm. Saving the PSD to PDF from Illustrator is much more optimal.
    – user35832
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 19:24
  • Thanks, really appreciate, in my case i didn't have troubles with the size, actually after doing this i get pretty much the same, but having horrible loading time with the pdf, when scrolling reload every time and looks really awkward, with this solution i got now a really smooth output and instant load time, thanks!
    – Alexis
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 8:58

By saving it from Photoshop you've saved an image file rather than merely text and shapes.

So, your PDF is now just one big image. Photoshop may not have been the best tool to edit the PDF with.

You can try flattening the Photoshop file before resaving it. That may reduce the file size.

Optimally you'd want to save a PDF from an application which contains live text.

  • I saved it as a pdf! ...a photoshop pdf...I was hoping they were secretly alter-egos of the same filetype... Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 19:25
  • 4
    A PDF is merely a container. That container can hold a variety of different things - some lightweight, others very heavy.
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 19:30
  • 1
    And if it is a large image, it's likely useless in a lot of HR systems. The resume upload systems scan documents for text. There won't be any text for it to scan in an image.
    – DA01
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 2:16
  • 1
    ahhh... random down votes.. I must've upset someone.
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 18:45

I second Scott's advice. Your PDF save settings will affect your output file. When saving from Photoshop, select Smallest File Size from your Adobe PDF Presets menu (in the Save As Photoshop PDF dialog). You may also want to check Optimize for Fast Web View. Check your compression settings as well. You can compress the image to a lower resolution. Lower resolution will affect your output file size.

  • 1
    If the OP uses high compression, he/she ought to print it out and verify that the presentation is legible and acceptable. One might assume the electronic upload means it will not be printed out, but a low-resolution print out will probably ensure the resume is removed from serious consideration very early in the process. This is especially true for jobs which have an office-worker style component to them.
    – horatio
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 20:53
  • Agreed. Checking resolution on a hard copy is best before uploading for review. It may be that resetting the type in InDesign is the better option for smaller file size and better output.
    – tinym
    Commented Oct 1, 2012 at 17:02

In your situation, I would download and install the MS Office 2013 public preview and open the PDF in Word 2013, which in my tests does a fine job of converting a PDF into an editable Word doc -- particularly one that was created from Word in the first place. Word 2010 may be able to do the same, but I've not tested that.

  • I have complete faith that you're right, but in this case you may be underestimating just how %#)@%*'ed the tabling system I used really is. Not to mention the photoshop bit. Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 20:50

The primary reason for this is that when you save a Photoshop Document as PDF, it saves all the features contained in the photoshop document (e.g. layers, color profiles etc.) including the ones that would aid it to be later edited in photoshop if need be.

Something I would suggest as a solution to your problem (that I use the most frequently for PDF optimization) is using Nitro PDF. Simply open your PDF in Nitro PDF editor and select Prepare>Optimize Document from the file menu. Now customize your document according to your needs of size and quality and save it.

It has always provided me with good results. Hoping the same for you. Cheers.


What Scott said is true, except that Photoshop can save live text in PDF format. In fact, I was facing the large file size issue while trying to retain the live text when I came across this question. It's a bit dated, but for others also googling this problem I figured I'd contribute anyway.

If you're just looking for a small PDF that doesn't need selectable text fields, I have an easy solution that offers decent quality at a small size, (100-1,000 kb.) First, go to File > Save for web and devices... or press ctrl (command on mac) + alt + shift + S. From there, you can save a gif in 256 colors or less, which compresses a TON, but it looks a lot nicer than those ugly JPG artifacts, which end up at a bigger file size most of the time. Then open the gif in photoshop and save as a PDF as usual, no extra compression necessary. Your PDF should be dramatically smaller now.

  • Very true but I think you missed the part where she/he opened an existing PDF from Word with Photoshop - thus rasterizing the entire thing making it "one big image"
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 22:29
  • And pray no HR department tries to print that gif <> PDF resume file. It'll look horrible when printed.
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 22:35
  • Apologies Scott, it wasn't my intention to take a jab at you. It depends on the complexity of the imagery, but where text is concerned a gif will print perfectly fine. I suggested this assuming the goal was to print a simple two-color text document. For better quality printing purposes, I have no better solution than what you suggested; it would be better to find another application besides Photoshop.
    – user29741
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 4:25
  • Oh no.. I didn't think there was a jab there at all and my comments certainly weren't meant to be antagonistic. Apologies if they came across that way.
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 4:31
  • That's okay, your comments weren't antagonistic by any means. No harm done. :) I guess I thought you might have been rebutting for different reasons, but I was mistaken. In any case I'm glad I wasn't taken badly.
    – user29741
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 4:38

Unchecking "Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities" is absolutely the solution here. Took my PDF from 23mb to 870kb!

  • 1
    While that may help with your PDF, it is not a blanket solution for all PDFs.
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 6:24

Try knocking out the background so the white-space is transparent. You're basically asking Photoshop to export a huge image to PDF, so less bitmapped image data and more alpha transparency should decease the file size.

Also, as other have probably mentioned:

• Image -> Mode -> Greyscale

• Uncheck the Layers box in your Save As dialogue.

  • 1
    Obviously by converting it to greyscale the OP would lose the colored headings though. So I don't think that's a valid approach. Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 13:34
  • Knocking out the white background was a great tip, thanks!
    – Nimbuz
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 13:50

The more the image DPI, the larger will its size be. If you plan to print that pdf then its advisable to retain it, else if you have designed for web purposes only, I would suggest you to compress your pdf using this excellent online service: www.smallpdf.com


I've also found that flattening the image and then converting it to a smart object helps a lot. I use "smallest file size" setting, with "editable layers" unchecked, and compression at high or max keeps the quality pretty decent at 300kb file sizes. That being said, a program like Pages creates beautiful PDFs at even smaller sizes, so it's clear that Photoshop is not the right tool for this job, I just use it to slap my signature on some things.


I don't know if you tried this yet but if you uncheck the "PERSERVE PHOTOSHOP EDITING CAPABILITES" and the "OPTIMIZE FOR FAST WEB PREVIEW" options on the 'General' window of the save box it reduces a file from 25mb to about 10mb. If you go into the 'Compression' window of the same save box and choose a Medium jpeg compression it will bring it down to about 3.5mb. I save my files for print this way and unflattened with a 5mm bleed and the layer is locked. Hope this helps


I'm probably way late to this, but it's always an easy way out to use the AdobePDF printer, and simply export out a dumb (yet tiny file size) PDF. Last resort, and hang on to the original, but it'll work in a pinch.

  • Best solution that actually works. Resized my pdf from 78MB to 2.7MB
    – Alaa M.
    Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 17:54

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.