How to Shrink a Microsoft Word Document

Image 055 How to Shrink a Microsoft Word Document

Working with large Microsoft Word documents can be frustrating. As file sizes grow, documents become slower to open, save, and share. Fortunately, there are several techniques you can use to shrink Word docs and improve performance. In this guide, I’ll showcase my top strategies to effectively reduce Word document size.

Compress Images

One of the best ways to reduce Word document size is compressing images. When you insert pictures into Word, the original high-resolution image data is embedded in the file. This significantly increases file size.

To compress images:

  1. Click an image to select it
  2. Go to the Picture Format tab
  3. Click Compress Pictures
  4. Ensure Apply only to this picture is unchecked
  5. Adjust compression as needed
  6. Click OK

Compressing images this way maintains image quality while deleting unnecessary original data. I always compress images as a first step when optimizing Word docs.

Adjust Image Resolution

In addition to compression, you can also reduce image resolution to shrink Word documents further. Lower resolution images have less data and detail.

To adjust resolution:

  1. Go to File > Options > Advanced
  2. Under Image Size and Quality, choose a lower default resolution such as 220 dpi
  3. Insert new images to apply the setting

I don’t recommend going below 150 dpi resolution. Any lower and images become pixelated.

Save a Copy

An easy way to optimize Word documents is saving a copy. This discards redundant background data that accumulates from editing.

To save a copy:

  1. Go to File > Save As
  2. Choose Word Document as the file type
  3. Give the file a new name and click Save

Save a copy whenever your Word document feels bloated. Just be careful not to overwrite your original file.

Stop Tracking Changes

Microsoft Word’s track changes feature records document edits for collaboration. However, it also dramatically increases file size.

To stop tracking:

  1. Go to the Review tab
  2. Click Track Changes to toggle it off
  3. Click the dropdown arrow under Accept
  4. Choose Accept All Changes

If you no longer need change tracking, turning it off and accepting all revisions can noticeably optimize document size.

Remove Personal Information

Word docs can secretly store personal data like names, initials, and company information. Removing this metadata helps reduce size.

To delete metadata:

  1. Go to the File tab
  2. Click Info
  3. Click Check for Issues
  4. Click Inspect Document
  5. Check boxes to choose items to remove
  6. Click Remove All

Scrubbing document properties and personal info keeps files lean.

Save as PDF

Converting native Word documents to PDF can significantly decrease size. PDFs better compress images, text, and formatting.

To save as PDF:

  1. Go to File > Save As
  2. Choose PDF from the file type dropdown
  3. Click Options to compress images further
  4. Save the PDF

If you primarily need to share files rather than edit them, using the PDF format is ideal for reducing size.

In summary, techniques like compressing images, adjusting resolution, removing metadata, and saving as PDF are great ways to shrink large Word documents. Optimizing your files helps them perform better while taking up less storage space. I encourage applying one or more of these best practices to any oversized docs you need to tame.

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