I'm looking for a Linux command line util that inputs a merged PDF (between 1mb and 500mb) and outputs an optimized/linearized version. Each and every page uses the same set of ~8 images, and the same font. Running one of my test files through Adobe Acrobat Pro took the file from 34MB to 1.6MB in a matter of about 30 seconds. I'm not really expecting performance like that, but something even half as fast/efficient would be wonderful.

I need it for a batched job running on Linux, which is why it needs a CLI. I've tried pdftk, gs, qpdf, pdftops, and pdfsizeopt. The first 4 are either far too slow or don't fully optimize the pdf files. pdfsizeopt seems promising, but I'm having trouble with consistency -- some of my pdfs will work, others will throw errors.

Any ideas other than what I've already listed? I wouldn't even mind purchasing something if it did the job.

  • Linearization and file size are not directly related... can you clarify precisely what you want?
    – yms
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 19:00
  • @Alec Sanger: If my answer was helpful to you, then please consider marking it as the accepted answer so others may more easily find it in the future. This is also a polite way to thank the person answering your question for helping you out. Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 19:08

2 Answers 2


I personally use Ghostscript to optimize the size of my PDF files. You can specify an optimization level and it will shrink the pictures. This also has the (IMHO desirable) side-effect of removing elements that are outside the page margins.

gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dPDFSETTINGS=/printer -dCompatibilityLevel=1.4 -r75 -dNOPAUSE -dQUIET -dBATCH -sOutputFile="output.pdf" "input.pdf"

The levels you can use are:

-dPDFSETTINGS=/screen (screen-view-only quality, 72 dpi images)
-dPDFSETTINGS=/ebook (low quality, 150 dpi images)
-dPDFSETTINGS=/printer (high quality, 300 dpi images)
-dPDFSETTINGS=/prepress (high quality, color preserving, 300 dpi imgs)
-dPDFSETTINGS=/default (almost identical to /screen)
  • For anyone wondering, this yields much better compression than pdfsizeopt Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 23:57
  • I may be the only one who got bit by this, but it was bad enough I thought I'd leave a comment. gs is a very common alias (especially for git status). If you're getting an error message, double check that it's not aliased type gs or use the full name ghostscript instead of gs . Also confirmed working on Fedora (Linux) ghostscript v9.55.0 Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 21:39

PdfCpu works great:

pdfcpu optimize in.pdf out.pdf


  • pdfcpu choked on a pdfs that were created from a google doc with error: dereferenceObject: problem dereferencing object 69: pdfcpu: parse: duplicate key . However running it through GhostScript first (using other answer) first and then pdfcpu optimize afterward yielded better results than ghostscript alone. Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 21:45
  • are you a dev or otherwise affiliated with the project? I can't share the pdf from yesterday but I can try to reproduce it with a pdf that is redistributable Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 16:49
  • @Freedom_Ben I am a Go expert, so I might be able to help
    – Zombo
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 1:55

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