Managing Powerpoint Presentation File Sizes

Lots of people have to do this all the time. You want to send your slides, or maybe even slide notes to a class or group, but when you look at the file size it is just to large. There is one other confounding variable here, often you want to convert your slides to pdfs, but even with that first step done, you end up with a pdf file that is as large (or sometimes larger) than the original slides.

Let’s look at the steps involved, there are not really that many, but I am going to make some assumptions about the software you have and the platforms that you might be using. There are lots of ways to do this, but I will only cover two. Generally the steps ar the same no mater what OS platform you are on:

  1. Generate the pdf file that you want
  2. shrink that file size down to something more manageable.

Lets start with the file. I made a simple pptx file, that weighs in at 8.3 MB. To do this I just loaded up on the graphics files, which are always the killers. You can grab a copy of that file here: Large PowerPoint.

Using the printer dialog in Mac OS X or PDFMaker under Windows you can quickly create high quality (read large file size) pdf files from your presentations. You may want a high quality version, but you also want a smaller version for sharing with colleagues or students. The smaller version will speed up printing as well. I did that, and here is my same pptx converted to a pdf notes file: PowerPoint_Size_Big.

Mac OS X:

Open your pdf up in the Preview application and using “Export As…” option under file, Save the PDF using the “Reduce File Size”option.

Save the PDF using the "Reduce File Size" option

Windows or Mac OS X:

Adobe Acrobat has a similar function that can be used to reduce pdf file size. Chose the “Reduce File Size…” option under the Document Menu.

Using Adobe Acrobat to reduce a pdf file size

In both cases the file sizes were under 400KB, just using the presets, 342KB and 184KB using the Preview.app and Adobe Acrobat respectively. There are lots of other ways to do this, from within the printing menus and also from within the adobe acrobat application itself. But just using the preset “shrinking” options will often get you exactly what you want.

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