477 page document is 52MB, can I get this size down?

I definitely used a lot of images, all dragged into the binder, then into the text. Most are displayed quite small, but I am not sure if the PDF that is output retains that original file size.

Is my file size normal for the number of pages? Is there an easier way to reduce the size aside from manually downsizing and replacing all images?


Hard to say if it is a normal size when we don’t know anything about your images. But just the fact that you mention “a lot of images”, I am quite sure the size is correct.

Sizing the graphics to precisely as large as they need to be to print at the scale and resolution required is the only good way to keep your PDF file size down. Scrivener is just going to assume you know what you want, and so is the macOS PDF generator.

Personally I’d say your PDF could do with some optimisation. Do you own Adobe Acrobat Pro? If so, Distiller has tools for compressing images further, and of course Acrobat itself has plenty of tools for optimising graphics.

As a form of reference on where I’m coming from in saying that: the Scrivener user manual has close to 300 figures in the PDF. Like your case, many of them are quite small, only showing a cropped area of the interface—but the source files used to generate them do clock in at around 200mb of PNG 24-bit losslessly compressed graphics. So on the surface I’d say we’re both working with a similarly sized data set.

However, if you open the user manual PDF and examine its size, you’ll see the distribution copy is only around 16mb. Prior to typesetting the PDF, I run a batch conversion from PNG to mid-high quality JPEG on the source folder. The PDF is instructed to use JPG instead of PNG graphics.

The specifics of how I do that probably aren’t applicable to how you work. I use LaTeX to typeset the PDF, which refers to images stored on the disk and thus it is a simple matter to have “.png” changed to “.jpg” automatically when compiling. The closest equivelent to that is using linked images in Scrivener instead of embedding them—something I would highly recommend to anyone working with a lot of graphics. Keeping your files on the disk means being able to do stuff like batch compression, keeping separate sets for different purposes and as well keeping your draft folder clean of large embedded files. For example you could:

  1. Duplicate your graphics folder and name it so you know it’s the source material.
  2. Batch compress/optimise the original folder.
  3. Reload the project and compile with the correctly sized and compressed images.

And you’re probably done. Need black and white? Similar solution. Need ebook low-res size? Same. You can keep however many sets of folders you want, and rotate them out by name before loading the project.

For now though, if the files are all embedded, the only way to fix them is to right-click on each image one by one, save it as an image, fix it and replace it. Consider however that in doing so you will need to be placing each image in Scrivener again manually—so it would be a good opportunity to convert to a linked image workflow (§15.7.4, Linked Images, in the user manual).

You do describe having dragged the image from the binder—under default settings the above still applies as that merely embeds the graphic as a new copy. However do check Behaviors: Dragging & Dropping, Link to images dragged from binder into editor. If that has been enabled this entire time, then you can edit the images from the Binder. Not quite as simple as having them on the disk—for purposes of batch processing—but a lot easier than the one-by-one fixit approach!

If you’re concerned there may be a mix, that’s no problem, you’d use the Draft material as a starting point. When double-clicking on an image it will display different functions depending on whether it is embedded, linked to the binder or linked to the disk. Both of the latter conditions have a button that brings you to the original file where it can be easily edited.

I’d look at the “Quartz filter” for Mac OS’s Preview app and see if the result is good enough for you. Googling “Macos reduce PDF file size” will get you to a number of articles that may offer more control over the image compression.

support.apple.com/guide/preview … vw1509/mac

Thank you, over my head a bit. I will re-read the posts in the morning. I want to fix it in scrivener, so all output file types are a fair size, rather than fixing in adobe (which i dont have) after outputting, since a PDF may just be one of many file types I need.

I put all of the images into the binder, then dragged them over, because that is what i was told to due to avoid the iOS problems, but of course that problem still exists. I believe the link to images dragged from binder option was selected the whole time.

If I double click the image in the document the resizing option exists, but they are already sized accordingly, so im not quite sure what to edit. But again, its late here, and ill re read the posts in the morning as I probably missed a lot and didnt understand.

Edit: Used the compression slider to max, got down to 40MB, i think most of my images are PNG

So, im not really sure if my images are embedded or linked. I can’t find a file folder that contains images on my disk. I see the images listed in the binder. When I open a document in iOS it shows the link icon. That would make me think its linked… but… no folder I can find with raw images to edit.

When I click on the images in the editor I get size adjustments, but most are already small so i dont know what i can adjust there… If I click on the image files in the binder it seems like my only option is to open in an external editor.

I will just remove all the images and recreate everything from scratch, again, just like i did when the iOS problem deleted my images.

Next time, I’m using MS Word. This software, both OSX and IOS has been an absolute mess.

When you double-click on an image in Scrivener the dialogue box with the sliders should also indicate whether it is embedded, linked to the binder or to the disk. I’m pretty sure in your case they are linked to the binder, meaning there should be a button in the dialogue to reveal the original image in the binder.

When you use the sliders in Scrivener, all you are doing is changing the display size, not its physical size. I believe this is how Word and most other word processors work as well; I’m no expert in how these systems work, but I doubt you’d be in a significantly different situation if you used another tool to put this all together.

So yes, at that point if the image is too large (greater than 300 DPI) at the display size you need it, the only option is to open it in an external editor and resample it so that at 300 DPI (or whatever you require) it is just the right size with no need to even touch the slider in Scrivener—that’s the goal.

But even then you may need to do further compression. Recall how my source file output is around 50mb as well? That’s with every image perfectly sized to purpose. I never “resize” in Scrivener, and yet I still have too much data. My solution can take advantage of how the output produces both graphics and typesetting instructions into a folder for further processing—I can step in at that point and bulk compress the graphics—but if you’re using a traditional word processing workflow then it will be easier to do that compression and such up front, on the binder copies (perhaps storing the originals elsewhere for safe keeping).

I should also mention that with binder-linked images you can change formats (from PNG to JPG for instance) simply enough. You do not have to strip out all of your images and place them again manually! I mean feel free if that is what you want to do, but there are better ways.

First I would create a backup of the project using the File ▸ Back Up ▸ Back Up To… command, giving it suffix in the name like “pre-compression”. You may also want to select them all and export the files outside of the project, so you have the originals safely put aside. Here is how I would handle the images in Scrivener:

  1. Double-click the image in the editor.
  2. Click the Reveal in Binder button and cancel out.
  3. Open the selected image in the binder.
  4. Use ⌃⌘O to open the graphic in your image editor.

Resize the image as needed, and “Save as” a JPG to a temporary file. Use this opportunity evaluate whether it is necessary for this image. Sometimes in fact PNG is the better option as you won’t get much savings from JPG and the result will be lower quality.

For the size, what I do is determine the maximum width I’ll ever want (usually as precisely wide as the text column with margins). For images that are larger than that size, I start by setting the image width to the max, and if the DPI is over 300, then I resample the image down so that at 300 it fits into that maximum size. Now I’m not wasting bytes on resolution nobody will ever see. If you had to downsample a good deal, now is a good time to apply a small amount of sharpening to the image to keep it crisp.

  1. Back in Scrivener, with the image still selected in the editor, use the Documents ▸ Replace Media File… command and select the temporary jpeg you created.

Repeat as necessary.

  1. Reload the project. All of the original image links that you modified will be marked as “MISSING_IMAGE” in the editor. This is fine, you will see they are pointing to “content.png” but for those you switched to JPG, that will need to be “content.jpg”. Use the Edit ▸ Find ▸ Project Replace… feature to fix all of these broken links in one shot, by replacing “content.png” to “content.jpg”.
  2. Reload the project again to relink and rebuild the thumbnail cache.

I would do a chapter’s worth first, to fine-tune the process and make sure the result you are getting is to the level of quality you desire. If you over-compress something, you have the original on the disk to go back to.

Oh its too late, i already started to remove every image and manually change to jpeg and resize.

Here’s the bottom line, and why i will never use this software again:

  1. It’s not intuitive. You have coders, and perhaps writers, but you really dont understand what a user experience should be like.

  2. iOS is royal fuck up. that’s the original cause of my frustration and why im so pissed off. I already went through every image in my document and linked to the binder to avoid the disaster that is the iOS version deleting my images. So, it’s pretty frustrating when i have to waste days of my time doing all that over again but in a slightly different way.

If I was using MS Word I would expect that it would treat my images as the same size as their original size. My expectations for this software were higher and I thought that it could be smart enough to handle some simple tasks. It turns out it does everything under the sun except WORK INTUITIVELY. Someone can write a 700 page manual but no one can take the time to design the software so that its easy to understand?


This software is such a disaster that its almost laughable. So much lost time. So so much.

It’s not clear from your question whether you intend to compile your Scrivener document for print or for electronic distribution. If it’s for the latter, you can reduce all images to 72 dpi. You only need 300 dpi for print. If you’ve got an assortment of 300 dpi images created in the CMYK colorspace, you can convert all of these easily to 72 dpi RGB and you should see a substantial size savings.

If you are compiling for print, then I’m not sure why you are concerned about the size of the file you intend to submit to the printer. If e-mailing the file to them is the issue, use RAR and break the file up into 10 M pieces.

Scrivener is neither a graphics program nor a typesetting program, it’s a document creation program.

If you want to typeset your file there are options out there, free and paid: LaTeX (free); InDesign (expensive, subscription), Scribus (free), Quark, (paid), Affinity Publisher (new, in beta). There’s also Viva Designer and iCalamus. There are dozens of graphics programs including Photoshop, Gimp, Pixelmator, Krita, Acorn, Pinta and Affinity Photo. There are also programs that only resize images, such as Image Optimizer, Sharp Resize and ImageWell.

You might also run your file through PDF Squeezer and see if the reduction obtained is close to your target size. That might save you a lot of trouble.

Finally, here’s a github project that applies image compression and then returns the file to its place in the pdf file. But keep in mind the requirements of your printer: github.com/bnanes/shrink-pdf.