Category Archives: Compression

Compress PDF files

Just a quick mention of a cool online tool I found…

I was about to email off a PDF (that I hadn’t created myself) to a discussion list when I noticed it was 6 Mb… which seemed a tad excessive.

Digging around I found SmallPDF, which can shrink them down. It got down to 1.2 Mb, with no noticeable loss of detail/fidelity.

SmallPDF is free for two files per hour, with no watermarks, or USD$6 a month for unlimited, and they have a few other related PDF functions such as file conversions.

Worth a look if you need to do something like this.

Powerpoint file sizes

Was dealing with a big Powerpoint presentation (PPT) file.

In the older PPT format, 6063 Kb.

When zipped, 4826 Kb. Not a bad saving given the number of pictures in it.

Here’s the interesting thing: in PPTX format: 3293 Kb.

Remembering that PPTX and other Office Open XML formats (DOCX, XLSX etc) do their compression on the file as a whole, not the individual componenets, so this is an interesting result.

Perhaps the old binary format is inherently less efficient/compressible than the new XML format.

Mind you, another big PPT I tried it with didn’t compress down as much; the PPTX was about the same size as the ZIPped PPT, so it obviously depends on the exact content

Easy ways to save bandwidth

After reading Jeff Atwood’s terrific post about saving bandwidth on web sites I’ve moved the Geekrant RSS feeds over to Feedburner, using Steve Smith’s mavellous WordPress Feedburner plugin, which works in WP 2.0x and 1.5x.

I also turned on HTTP compression, which in WordPress is as easy as clicking a checkbox. It not only saves you bandwidth, but users get your pages served quicker, since the bottleneck is bound to be their bandwidth, not their browser’s ability to decompress.

We’ll see how it goes. Bandwidth has been growing recently: January 2.8Gb; February 2.7Gb; March 3.4Gb. It’s not at ludicrous levels, but if it keeps climbing, I’ll end up paying more for the hosting. Hopefully this will help bring it back down.

Update 8:40pm. First thing I notice is that when reading the feed from within the Feedburner site, it doesn’t treat relative paths to images properly. I guess I’ll have to put absolute paths, ‘cos at the moment in the previous post it’s trying to load instead of I wonder how it treats relative links?

File listings from zips

Need to get a file list out of a zip file? Winzip is a fine product, but don’t muck about with their recommended method, setting up a text file printer driver to print a list to, then having to chop out the paper-style headings and linefeeds.

No… Instead go to Info-Zip and grab their command-line zip package.

unzip -l [Optional filespec if you don't want them all] > filelist.txt



I’ve been discovering just how great PNG is for screendumps. It’s not lossy, yet it compresses particularly well for screendumps off Windows… even when there’s those gradient title bars that have become fashionable over the last couple of years.

For instance, the Path Not Found dump out of Windows explorer the other day:

  • PNG 22,140 bytes
  • JPG (saved out of Photopaint at compression 100 out of 255, noticeable loss of quality in the letters – See right) 76,824 bytes
  • GIF (converted to 256 colours, so some colour lost) 22,345 bytes
  • GIF (converted to 16 colours, so LOTS of colour lost) 17,285 bytes

Okay, so the 256 colour GIF is only marginally bigger, but to produce it you have to fiddle the colours, and of course it uses the proprietary LZW algorithm for which Unisys once would have wanted all our souls. PNG is just a save, no having to even think about it. Coolness.

Missing the bloat

A colleague was pasting a picture into his Powerpoint presentation. Some kind of diagram, and unfortunately he didn’t have the original document it came from, so no matter which Paste Special option he tried, it came through as a bitmap. Saved it to disk, e-mailed it to someone else, and wondered why it took so long.

Then he saw the size. It had blown out from a couple of hundred K to over 4Mb.

So he tried zipping it. WinZip took it down to, believe it or not, 80Kb.

No wonder people complain about Microsoft bloatware… sometimes it’s not just the apps, it’s the way they store stuff as well.