I have 4 Illustrator (Adobe pdf) files I need to upload to a freelance website for a job I did. I saved each one as a PDF file but they are 184 MB each. The site only accepts files under 100 MB. Each file is 36 in X 24 in and 300 ppi. That's the size they need it printed at for a poster. Each consists of 1 large image for the background, a woman cut out in photoshop, and some text in "thought bubbles." What are my options to be able to upload them? I searched on here for duplicate questions but didn't see the same issue. Originally I had them done in Photoshop at 600dpi but cut in half at 18x12 in. but they were still around 126 MB. Someone here mentioned it would be better in AI. Thanks for your help.

6 Answers 6


If it were my project, I would probably lay out the posters in InDesign, placing the Illustrator and Photoshop objects. When exporting as a PDF, I would downsample the resolution of all objects to around 200 ppi. The reason is explained in Rafael's post, but to summarize: a poster of this size is unlikely to benefit from that bump in resolution given the typical viewing distance (this is untrue in special applications, however, so use your judgment).

As for sending the file, if the above doesn't help you get a more reasonable file size, I've shared files using Dropbox or Google Drive with no issues, and on one occasion, a client used WeTransfer to send large image files to me.


Have you tried zipping each of them? Would that get the files under the size max?

Alternately, you could make low-res PDF "Proofs" for your client, upload those to the freelance website and deliver the large files via yousendit.com or other huge file sending website.

I've used yousendit to deliver high-res video to clients in the past. I think you can send 20Gb files or something through services like that.

  • YouSendIt is now called Hightail, for the record, and you do have to upgrade to the paid version for a 20GB file. Minor fixes to an otherwise solid answer. Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 11:27
  • Zipping PDF files is not really a good substitute for PDFs native compression (which always should be used). In a modern PDF, lots of stuff is already compressed; and you cannot compress a compressed file more. The gain is tiny on large files.
    – Jongware
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 18:49

You should use Acrobat Pro to "clean up" your PDF.

Open your PDF in Acrobat Pro and then select "save as other" and "optimized PDF" the the menu "file".

In the sections "discard objects", "discard usr data" and "clean up", check all the boxes if you don't need to keep hyperlinks or layers. This will also remove all the unwanted data that add to the weight of your file and flatten everything. If I'm not wrong, you can still keep your PDF editable in Illustrator.

You can also adjust the resolution of the images in the "images" section, and compress them in "zip". If it's still too heavy, you can use "JPG maximum".

It's also worth downsampling to 300dpi for color images, 600dpi for grayscale and 1240 dpi for monochrome/bitmap; Acrobat Pro will compress all your images to the same resolution.

I'm quite sure by using Acrobat Pro, your 100mb file will drop down to something between 5-15mb!


It would be better in Ilustrator but if they are designed in Ilustrator. Now that you designed it in photoshop it is not important, you only have a photoshop image inside a ilustrator file converted to pdf...

Your original file is exactly the same file. Your 600dpi image at 18x12 is exactly the same as a 36x24 300dpi.

It is recomended in your case to use ilustrator to make the "thinking buble" and texts in vectors, so you can export the photos in lower resolution and the text still will look sharp regardless the final size.

You can try some things, export in a little lower resolution, for example 200 dpi or use some jpg compression which is a lossy compresion, but use realy high quality settings.

I explainded a bit why you can use lower dpi settings here How to create a very big photo (like for a billboard) In that link it is another to a hot topic question too, with more explanations.

You also can try a diferent share-files service. I have seeing some that accept files up to 300Mb, but I have not use them, so I cant recomend a specific one.

  • Thank you all. I did sign up for dropbox so I can try that. I ended up going back to the photoshop file (18x12 @ 600) and save as pdf and it was only around 20mb. I really thought it would've been bigger that way that in Illustrator. Only problem is he didn't mention bleed or crop marks and I didn't see that option in ps. Will try InDesign if this doesn't work.
    – Karin
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 14:21

You could also use http://smallpdf.com/compress-pdf to decrease the size of each of your pdfs. I use it often. It's super quick and easy (and free!)


I recently learned an excellent method to make reduced size .pdfs from large illustrator files:

In illustrator choose "print to Adobe .pdf". That's it. My 126 Meg file became 700k and retained all crisp transparencies and rasters.

No more bothering with elaborate image compression work and I don't have to go easy on transparencies and gradients.

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