Split PDFs in Acrobat by file size

I don’t think I’ve ever posted a tip for Adobe Acrobat, but I found something this week that was amazingly helpful.

I had a large file with many pages that I needed to email. (Dropbox and other sharing services weren’t an option for this client. Only email.) I needed to divide the PDF into several smaller PDFs. There are many ways to do this, but most require some trial and error.

I stumbled across a feature in Acrobat that lets you split a PDF into multiple files and allows you to set a maximum file size for each resulting file.

NOTE: I’m writing this tip about the current version of Acrobat that is included with Creative Cloud. The Adobe Acrobat DC (2015) interface is wacky and a radical departure from everything else Adobe makes.* It’s closer to the current version of Microsoft Office than Creative Cloud.

Open your massive PDF and then click “Tools” at the top of the open window. You’ll come to a page with lots of icons for editing functions. Select “Organize Pages” from the “Create & Edit” grouping.

 Select "Organize Pages" from the top row.

Select "Organize Pages" from the top row.

At the top of the window, you will now have an button for “Spilt.” Clicking “Split” opens up a row below with more options. By default, Acrobat will split your document into multiple files with an equal number of pages, but if you select the “Number of Pages” combo box, you get additional options: “File size” and “Top level bookmarks.”

 The toolbar for "Organize Pages" has the "Split" command.

The toolbar for "Organize Pages" has the "Split" command.

Choose file size and then set your maximum file size. Click the split button and the separated files will be saved to your desktop.

The options button for the “Split” row gives you complete control of how and where the files are saved. So if you need to use a particular naming convention or have Acrobat save the new file to a specific directory, you can make those changes there.

If you absolutely need to email a PDF and compressing or downsampling the file isn’t an option for you, then “Split” will absolutely save you time.

Every Wednesday, I post a tip for an Adobe app.

* I’ve been told the Acrobat team and the Creative Cloud team are completely separate. It looks like it.