When Working With PDF Printers, Watch The File Sizes

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 20, 2011
Updated • Nov 22, 2012

Roman just posted an interesting observation about pdf printers on the Ghacks forum. He noticed that the output file size of pdf printers differed considerably. In his own test, he noticed a difference of nearly 400% between the smallest file size and largest file size. While that's just been a single test, it shows that users may do good to test various pdf printers if file size is a criteria for them.

Roman printed a webpage to pdf document that included text and some images. I decided to investigate the issue further, and came to similar conclusions.

The following pdf printers were used in the test:

You can check out additional pdf printers over at the overview at Freeware Genius's blog.

I have tested two different documents, first a Word document from SEOMoz, and second the forum page containing Roman's forum post.

The results

Word document, original file size 439 Kilobytes

Bullzip PDF Printer: 350 Kilobytes
DoPDF 7: 317 Kilobytes
PDF Creator: 348 Kilobytes
Primo PDF: 512 Kilobytes

Web page, original file size 450 Kilobytes

Bullzip PDF Printer: 256 Kilobytes
DoPDF 7: 212 Kilobytes
PDF Creator: 240 Kilobytes
Primo PDF: 172 Kilobytes

The differences are not nearly as wide in range as Roman's findings, but they may still be considerable. Especially the Word document differences are noteworthy. While Bullzip PDF Printer, DoPDF 7 and PDF Creator remain between 317 and 350 Kilobytes, Primo PDF breaks out resulting in a file size increase of 150 to 200 Kilobytes.

It is rather surprising that the pdf printer with the largest file size managed to create the lowest file size converting the web page. The three other printers are again close to each other, with DoPDF a little bit better than the other two.

Some pdf printers may come with options to reduce the file size of the resulting pdf documents, for instance by compressing images. All tests have been conducted with the default settings.

This test concentrates on file size, and there may be other factors playing a role for users, pdf quality a top one. A difference of a few hundred Kilobytes makes no big difference if the documents are stored on a desktop PC, they can however have an impact if the pdf documents are stored and accessed on mobile devices like ebook readers or smartphones with limited space and processing capabilities.

My suggestion would be to install at least two different pdf printers on the system for best results. Ideally two different printers, for instance one that utilizes Ghostscript (which many pdf printers do) and another one that does not use Ghostscript.

Have you been working with pdf printers? If you did, tell us about your experience in the comments.


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Rob said on July 12, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I used CIB pdf Brewer and the Word document came in at 303 Kilobytes beating every Pdf Printer mentioned in the test and comments.
    I also used PDF-XChange Lite 4.0 and the Word document came in at 277 Kilobytes beating everyone in the test and beyond.

  2. Govind said on February 20, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    When I printed 1.08 MB of word document using dopdf printer it shows 120 MB size and it is not opening and it is hanging.

  3. I said on August 10, 2011 at 12:49 am

    I use pdfcreator mostly for speedy performance (relative to primo and do). This decision was made long ago so it might have changed now. But pdfcreator seem to work ok for me so far and I have no outrageous size issues with it. (I dont use mobile devices other than laptops and netbooks)

  4. Gabe said on June 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Too bad you didn’t include the normal pdf output of MS Word in your Test. I normaly save my PDFs that way. (Why install an extra software when i already have something on board)

  5. Simon B. said on June 22, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I’m using “PDF reDirect v2” for printing and got 348kB. Not 100% sure I have default settings though, and I’m using A4 for paper size. I’m very interested in further PDF printer comparisons!

  6. Robert Palmar said on June 20, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    I use pdfFactory Pro and the Word document
    came in at 305 Kilobytes beating all the
    other programs listed in the test.

  7. Printer said on June 20, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Try it again with a document that contains a lot of or big images, and you`ll be suprised. doPDF is the worst in this case, even with “Small file” selected, PDFs are 4 times bigger than those created with Bullzip/PDFCreator. And there`s no noticeable difference in image quality compared to the other creators outputs.

  8. Gouthaman Karunakaran said on June 20, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I’ve been using CutePDF. But, I never really paid attention to the file sizes.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.