Review: Apago PDF Shrink

Crush your PDFs for quick downloads off your site (August 24th, 2006)

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Product Manufacturer: Apago, Inc.

Price: $35 US

The Good

  • Easy to use. Works well on large documents. Great for repetitive requirements.

The Bad

  • Limited compression on small documents. Limited compression on PDF files for print.

The application PDF Shrink reduces the size of PDF files created by Mac OS X, iWork, iLife applications, as well as Adobe products, Microsoft Word, and other applications. It optimizes the graphics within a document and strips out duplicate and extra information. PDF Shrink, version 4 adds an encryption feature, a wizard for customizing settings, and it is a Universal application. Other features include password requests, restriction of document changes, and printing options.

You use PDF Shrink preferences to set up guidelines for PDF Shrink to perform as it compresses your PDF document. You can create configurations using the wizard. These configurations may be for one-time use or may be a set of compression and resolution requirements to perform a repetitive task.

How it works

The Document Manager is the heart of this program. The tool bar at the top lets you add, rename, delete, duplicate, or run your configurations. Using the tool bar, you can also create a droplet or save your configurations to the Service Menu under the Apple Finder menu. The area below the tool bar lists all of your created configurations.

When you click on the new button in the Document Manager, the wizard walks you through a number of screens to set up a configuration for your task. It asks questions about how you plan to use your document. Will it be posted to a website, added to an email, or printed. Is size or quality more important? Do you want to make your PDF as compressed as possible?

Next it asks what programs in which you will view your PDF. With some configurations, the quality and resolution is very important, while others are viewed on the computer screen. If there are security concerns to be considered, you can restrict the use of the information in your PDF. PDF Shrink can restrict the ability to alter or print your PDF as well as password protect it.

PDF Shrink also asks if you want to create an icon or add color to the name of your configuration when you place in the Document Manager. The Advanced Settings provide the basic options as well as some additional settings.

In the Advanced Settings, you can select from five print or display options (no change, 72 dpi, 96 dpi, 150 dip and 200 dpi). Your choices affect the output. Reducing a 200 dpi graphic to 72 dpi reduces the size of your document and is helpful if you only want to view the PDF document on your screen. Increasing the resolution of your graphics in PDF Shrink does not affect the quality of the print; it only increases the file size.

Versatile Configurations

PDF Shrink gives you three compression choices that affect your graphics. When some programs create PDF documents, they add ancillary information to the file, including metadata, thumbnails, or font information. PDF Shrink can delete this information.

You can create a number of different configurations depending on the jobs you commonly do with your PDF files. If you don't expect others to print the PDF, there is no need to maintain a 300 dpi resolution for your graphics. If you put PDF files on your website for others to download and print, 200 dpi may be a good choice. Once you've created your settings, open PDF Shrink and drag the files you want compressed over the configuration you need. Drag one or several files into PDF Shrink's queue. While PDF Shrink processes your files, the monitor window shows you how many jobs are waiting to be processed and how many are finished.

Compression in the Real World

I tested a 45MB Adobe InDesign created PDF file. The file included 65 pages of scanned images. In about two minutes, the file was compressed to 6.5 MB. The configuration used reduced the images from 300 dpi resolution to 72 dpi at low quality. Next I compressed the same 45 MB file, using high quality and 72 dpi, I got a 12.6 MB file and the images looked better on the screen. When I reduced the dpi to 200, I got a reasonable quality print but the size of the file was much closer to the originals 45MB file size. Other files that I checked didn't reduce much in size.

Good Design

Overall, this is a very simple program to use. It has a well-designed interface and the wizard makes setting up configurations easy. You achieve the best results with larger documents that don't need to be printed. If you have a number of PDF documents that you want to put on your website for people to view, this is a helpful program. Download the demo program and see if it will be helpful for your needs.

by Rick Curran


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