LayOut PDF export size

I’m actually asking on behalf of two of my students, I teach SU at the local University. Recently, when they’ve been using LayOut to create PDF via the export function, the files are almost as big as the original LayOut file.

I tried to look at the image compression settings, but if I turn the compression too high, any jpeg images are ghosted.

They’re both using Mac and I’m a Windows user that isn’t experiencing the issue.

If I install a print to PDF driver, then it’s ok, but the direct export to PDF is not useful with the files being as big as the original file.

We’re checking into an issue where Mac PDFs are a lot bigger than the same LayOut exported on Windows.

Thank you for the follow up, I look forward to hearing more.

Pretty sure I should be sleeping, but I had an idea to test. About 50 exports later I have things worked out…

It seems that in Windows, PNG inside PDF are saved as Indexed color. That is, 8 bit PNG. On Mac in PDF it’s saved as 24 bit PNG, and it’s the same when saved as PNG from either platform.

On Windows, if you set the resolution to High and ask for JPEG, you get what you asked for. So, in my test if I had high for resolution and highest JPEG compression, the PDF was 11 times as big as the same export without JPEG compression, because PNG makes the most of the flat colored areas in the model.

On Mac, if you have resolution set to High, you’re going to get 24 bit PNG no matter what JPEG compression you set.

Some of that may be intentional on our part or Apple’s part. But, it gives you a solution, if you set resolution to medium, the exports from Mac and Windows are almost exactly the same when using medium JPEG compression. Higher JPEG quality can make Windows seem to do better on file size, but the image isn’t as good as Mac with the same settings.

As an aside, if I take a bigger Mac PNG and send it to, it comes out smaller than the PNG inside a Windows PDF. So, there is a feature request in there somewhere.

Thanks very much for your help!

I’ll try to recommend that they use the medium quality compression for the settings in the jpeg export.

In any of the exports you tried, did you get image ghosting at all?

Ok, so they tried to do medium compression but now are experiencing image ghosting, meaning that the images are coming out as light gray squares in the pdf. Any compression setting below maximum quality leaves ghosted images.

I noticed the file had been set up with an Arch D page (for no specific reason) and I resized the page and scaled the content to try the export with the physically smaller file, hoping that there was some connection to page size and image conversion.

Their export size did decrease with the page more intentionally set at tabloid, that way the 20Mb LayOut file resulted in a 13Mb pdf, so there is a slight connection there.

But the file is still way above the equivalent file being exported on my WIndows machine at medium quality, which results in a pdf with a size of less than a 200Kb.

I think you tried medium image compression, and I was talking about output resolution. Set the output resolution to medium, and the compression to as much as you like.

You’re right, I was talking about the wrong setting, sorry for the misunderstanding there. We had tried the output resolution option earlier and it also left us with a big pdf file.

Here is a link to the file, I feel like we may be missing something at a point before the export since there aren’t really that many things to change in the export settings.

Someone posted about the same problem before. He found out that the enormous file shrunk to about 5% of its original size when run through the optimizing function in Adobe Acrobat (or other PDF editor).


I’ve always had to deal with this since I started using Sketchup.

As part of my workflow, I import the PDF into Photoshop and process it, then save out as a PDF. It reduces it dramatically.

I think I’ve just always accepted this. It’s note ideal, and it would be good if the PDFs generated from Layout on a Mac were not so huge. Then I wouldn’t have to add the extra step in my workflow.


A problem with the Acrobat save as compressed is that it changes PNGs to JPEGs.

I have news…

I did another 150 exports today of a different document. For this one I spent a lot of time in SketchUp trying to track down what part of the model was causing the problem. I found that materials that used transparency within the viewing area could lead to the issue, but only if they were layered on top of other things.

A very long time later I found something new. I could take a viewport in LayOut and export it, then increase its size on the page. When small it was exporting as JPEG, but as soon as I went over a certain size, it switched to exporting as PNG.

Then I tried toggling the Background setting in Styles, and found that even filling the page, with background turned off I was getting JPEGs exported ok. With that setting I was also able to put the Output Resolution back to High. The file became a lot bigger, but at least it was using JPEGs.

I’m not now sure of a single thing that causes the problem, but the general case is that if any of those things makes it seem like the SketchUp scene needs transparency, then you end up with a PNG inside the PDF. Turning off Background sounds like it should cause the problem, but it could be helping to cancel out issues coming from the model.

Milan, I will reply separately about your photo export test, as it doesn’t involve SketchUp models.

I tested your file, and what I said earlier about the export quality being lower for a given setting on Windows seems to be true. The images below are close ups of Mac exporting at 50% compression, and Windows doing the same. See how boxy the edges get.

I also tested Mac at 75% against Windows at 100%. The Mac file was half the size, end yet similar quality to the 100% Windows export.

Here are the close ups, Mac at 50% first, then Windows at 50%.

thanks Michael, hopefully, this will get a new feature soon.

Thanks Colin, it seems you didn’t experience any image ghosting in any of your testing. But your file sizes are acceptably small when you use both the output resolution set to medium and the compression slider at the various percentages?

My student’s experiences haven’t been the same. They can only get the 20Mb LayOut file down to 13Mb or so and even then they’ll get image ghosting.

I may have to recommend a print to PDF driver or some post processing as a few users have suggested here.