Reduce PDF for Court E-filings

Compressing or reducing PDF  document file size for e-filing with a court

E-filing documents saves a tremendous amount of time. But, getting file sizes right can be a huge headache. Our local e-filing (Utah) limits file size to about 7mb. Our local federal district court limits PDF file size to 10mb. Often times, a file that seems too large to upload as a single document can be compressed or reduced in size. PDF files now come from a variety of sources (clients, opposing counsel, online). We have no control over the settings when creating the original document. Cleaning up the pdf can often reduce the file size and allow filing without splitting up the document into multiple uploads. However, if you think you can compress a 452 page exhibit down to 10mb, you’re probably dreaming. File size remains a function of the analog document. Keep in mind that reducing below 150 dpi using any of these procedures may make small text virtually unreadable and may also effect the ability to convert to usable OCR.

Option #1 – Print and rescan the entire document and scan ‘good’ scan settings, i.e. 150 dpi. Of course, printing and re-scanning the document eliminates many of the efficiencies associated with using electronic versions of the file and wastes a tremendous amount of paper.

Option #2 – Use built in tools for Acrobat, Preview or PDF PenPro. In Preview, select file > export, then choose ‘Quartz Filter’ and ‘Reduce File Size’ from the drop down menus. Using Preview, you’re likely to get a reduction that makes small text difficult to read. PDF PenPro uses the same ‘filter’ as Preview, so you’re not going to get much mileage there. Acrobat has some very powerful file reduction features and granular control under the file > save as (from drop down choose Adobe PDF Files, Optimized). But, if there are any oddities in the document, you can end up with errors coming from who-knows-which-page. If you keep it simple and don’t muck around too much with the settings, you can get a good result. Pro-tip: Create a ‘temp’ folder on your desktop. Copy all exhibits to that folder. Create a batch process for reducing file size and run it on all exhibits after they have been put in the temp folder. Now you can visually see which of those files, even after reduction, is not going to pass the through the e-file size restrictions.

Option #3 – Use a ‘paid-for’ utility from the app store. Right now there are three paid utilities on the Mac App Store, PDF Squeezer ($3.99)(View in Mac App Store) allows you to create your own filter settings and has built in settings which work well, but no batch procession; PDF Compress Expert ($3.99)(View in Mac App Store) a little bit clunky interface with no option to rename documents, but does allow batch processing; PDF Compressor ($29.99)(View in Mac App Store) which also allegedly allows ‘batch processing,’ but is simply too expensive to purchase for review here.

Option #4 – Roll your own or DIY. The ‘paid for’ versions are, at bottom, doing something that any user can do using Automator or AppleScript. There are at least a couple articles out there that teach you how to create your own ‘filter’ on the Mac which will then be accessible in either PDF PenPro or Preview. If you are a hacky type, go roll your own.

For now, it does not appear that there is an easy way to accomplish PDF file size reduction using an iPad.

Back to Basics – iPad eFiling

The last post identified iCab as a means for uploading, aka efiling, documents and  pleadings from your iPad. Folks have, however, struggled with some of the basics. Here’s a short picture story on how to get the job done.

1. From the app where the document resides, look for an arrow/box in the upper right corner. This is called the “Open In” button or dialog. Most apps are standardized on the iOS interface which locates it in the upper right corner. For example, with Dropbox it looks like this:

Step 1 Open Inv

2. Once you tap that open in button, scroll through your various apps until you locate iCab and tap that icon. iCab will no open and load the document you were looking at in the previous app.

Step 2 Choose iCab

3. Open a new tab in iCab and log in to your e-filing account. When you get to the button or dialog that requires you to select your pleading or document for upload, tap that button and iCab will display a list of available documents, including the document you just chose through the “Open In” dialog. Select that document and iCab should upload it to the e-filing portal. Your mileage may vary depending on the portal, but I’ve not had problems yet here in Utah.

Step 3 Login Upload

iPad: E-filing & Uploading Docs

As more and more lawyers adopt iPads, and more and more courts move to e-filing the question inevitably arises: How the ?>#!* do I upload that Motion to Kiss My Ass from my iPad?*

After researching the issue, not a lot of options exist for uploading documents from the iPad. The built in Safari web browser doesn’t support uploading to a website. PDF Expert, GoodReader and iAnnotate also lack the ability to log into an e-filing portal and upload. However, a $1.99 iPad browser called iCab does allow uploading for e-filing pleadings. I tested it with our local court e-filing here in Utah and with the Utah Federal iCab Efiling Web BrowserDistrict court ECF. It worked on both systems. As always, Your Mileage May Vary based on your particular jurisdiction and, of course, the substance and tone of your filing will neither be improved nor reduced by using iCab to e-file court documents.

* (See, Washington v. Alaimo, 934 F. Supp. 1395 (S.D. Ga. 1996)).