This happened a few minutes ago, I got a call from an unknown number. That was my wife’s work number, and she called to ask me an urgent question, it seems:
“Can you tell me how to compress a PDF file?” she asked.
For the next part, it might be better if I paint you the whole picture. Imagine bullet time, where everything slows down, and I start to analyze the question and my possible answer. The following thoughts run through my mind during that time.
- PDF files are already compressed by default.
- Pretty sure that the file format is already using compression.
- You could strip unneeded elements from the file, removing fonts is one example, I think.
- If there are images, can probably downscale or re-sample them to reduce their size.
- What about just running this through Zip?
- Where did this question come from?
That took about two seconds in real time. The decision tree for any possible answer here grew exponentially. I had to make a call.
“No, that isn’t easily possible,” I answered.
I got some more details as well.
“This is for uploading a document to the XYZ system, it only accepts up to 4MB files, but this PDF is 5.5MB. I guess I can just scan this document as two separate pages instead of one, right?”
A workaround found, and a detailed dive into lossless vs. lossy compression compared to the file format choice avoided, I agreed that this was probably the best option and finished my coffee, pondering the ethical dilemma of answering the actual question or the intended question.