How to recompress images in a PDF using iTextSharp

(I originally posted this on Stack Overflow)

iText and iTextSharp have some methods for replacing indirect objects. Specifically there’s PdfReader.KillIndirect() which does what it says and PdfWriter.AddDirectImageSimple(iTextSharp.text.Image, PRIndirectReference) which you can then use to replace what you killed off.

In pseudo C# code you’d do:

var oldImage = PdfReader.GetPdfObject();
var newImage = YourImageCompressionFunction(oldImage);
yourPdfWriter.AddDirectImageSimple(newImage, (PRIndirectReference)oldImage);

Below is a full working C# 2010 WinForms app targeting iTextSharp It takes an existing JPEG on your desktop called “LargeImage.jpg” and creates a new PDF from it. Then it opens the PDF, extracts the image, physically shrinks it to 90% of the original size, applies 85% JPEG compression and writes it back to the PDF. See the comments in the code for more of an explanation. The code needs lots more null/error checking. Also looks for NOTE comments where you’ll need to expand to handle other situations.

using System;
using System.Drawing;
using System.Drawing.Imaging;
using System.Drawing.Drawing2D;
using System.Windows.Forms;
using System.IO;
using iTextSharp.text;
using iTextSharp.text.pdf;

namespace WindowsFormsApplication1 {
    public partial class Form1 : Form {
        public Form1() {

        private void Form1_Load(object sender, EventArgs e) {
            //Our working folder
            string workingFolder = Environment.GetFolderPath(Environment.SpecialFolder.Desktop);
            //Large image to add to sample PDF
            string largeImage = Path.Combine(workingFolder, "LargeImage.jpg");
            //Name of large PDF to create
            string largePDF = Path.Combine(workingFolder, "Large.pdf");
            //Name of compressed PDF to create
            string smallPDF = Path.Combine(workingFolder, "Small.pdf");

            //Create a sample PDF containing our large image, for demo purposes only, nothing special here
            using (FileStream fs = new FileStream(largePDF, FileMode.Create, FileAccess.Write, FileShare.None)) {
                using (Document doc = new Document()) {
                    using (PdfWriter writer = PdfWriter.GetInstance(doc, fs)) {

                        iTextSharp.text.Image importImage = iTextSharp.text.Image.GetInstance(largeImage);
                        doc.SetPageSize(new iTextSharp.text.Rectangle(0, 0, importImage.Width, importImage.Height));
                        doc.SetMargins(0, 0, 0, 0);


            //Now we're going to open the above PDF and compress things

            //Bind a reader to our large PDF
            PdfReader reader = new PdfReader(largePDF);
            //Create our output PDF
            using (FileStream fs = new FileStream(smallPDF, FileMode.Create, FileAccess.Write, FileShare.None)) {
                //Bind a stamper to the file and our reader
                using (PdfStamper stamper = new PdfStamper(reader, fs)) {
                    //NOTE: This code only deals with page 1, you'd want to loop more for your code
                    //Get page 1
                    PdfDictionary page = reader.GetPageN(1);
                    //Get the xobject structure
                    PdfDictionary resources = (PdfDictionary)PdfReader.GetPdfObject(page.Get(PdfName.RESOURCES));
                    PdfDictionary xobject = (PdfDictionary)PdfReader.GetPdfObject(resources.Get(PdfName.XOBJECT));
                    if (xobject != null) {
                        PdfObject obj;
                        //Loop through each key
                        foreach (PdfName name in xobject.Keys) {
                            obj = xobject.Get(name);
                            if (obj.IsIndirect()) {
                                //Get the current key as a PDF object
                                PdfDictionary imgObject = (PdfDictionary)PdfReader.GetPdfObject(obj);
                                //See if its an image
                                if (imgObject.Get(PdfName.SUBTYPE).Equals(PdfName.IMAGE)) {
                                    //NOTE: There's a bunch of different types of filters, I'm only handing the simplest one here which is basically raw JPG, you'll have to research others
                                    if (imgObject.Get(PdfName.FILTER).Equals(PdfName.DCTDECODE)) {
                                        //Get the raw bytes of the current image
                                        byte[] oldBytes = PdfReader.GetStreamBytesRaw((PRStream)imgObject);
                                        //Will hold bytes of the compressed image later
                                        byte[] newBytes;
                                        //Wrap a stream around our original image
                                        using (MemoryStream sourceMS = new MemoryStream(oldBytes)) {
                                            //Convert the bytes into a .Net image
                                            using (System.Drawing.Image oldImage = Bitmap.FromStream(sourceMS)) {
                                                //Shrink the image to 90% of the original
                                                using (System.Drawing.Image newImage = ShrinkImage(oldImage, 0.9f)) {
                                                    //Convert the image to bytes using JPG at 85%
                                                    newBytes = ConvertImageToBytes(newImage, 85);
                                        //Create a new iTextSharp image from our bytes
                                        iTextSharp.text.Image compressedImage = iTextSharp.text.Image.GetInstance(newBytes);
                                        //Kill off the old image
                                        //Add our image in its place
                                        stamper.Writer.AddDirectImageSimple(compressedImage, (PRIndirectReference)obj);


        //Standard image save code from MSDN, returns a byte array
        private static byte[] ConvertImageToBytes(System.Drawing.Image image, long compressionLevel) {
            if (compressionLevel < 0) {
                compressionLevel = 0;
            } else if (compressionLevel > 100) {
                compressionLevel = 100;
            ImageCodecInfo jgpEncoder = GetEncoder(ImageFormat.Jpeg);

            System.Drawing.Imaging.Encoder myEncoder = System.Drawing.Imaging.Encoder.Quality;
            EncoderParameters myEncoderParameters = new EncoderParameters(1);
            EncoderParameter myEncoderParameter = new EncoderParameter(myEncoder, compressionLevel);
            myEncoderParameters.Param[0] = myEncoderParameter;
            using (MemoryStream ms = new MemoryStream()) {
                image.Save(ms, jgpEncoder, myEncoderParameters);
                return ms.ToArray();

        //standard code from MSDN
        private static ImageCodecInfo GetEncoder(ImageFormat format) {
            ImageCodecInfo[] codecs = ImageCodecInfo.GetImageDecoders();
            foreach (ImageCodecInfo codec in codecs) {
                if (codec.FormatID == format.Guid) {
                    return codec;
            return null;
        //Standard high quality thumbnail generation from
        private static System.Drawing.Image ShrinkImage(System.Drawing.Image sourceImage, float scaleFactor) {
            int newWidth = Convert.ToInt32(sourceImage.Width * scaleFactor);
            int newHeight = Convert.ToInt32(sourceImage.Height * scaleFactor);

            var thumbnailBitmap = new Bitmap(newWidth, newHeight);
            using (Graphics g = Graphics.FromImage(thumbnailBitmap)) {
                g.CompositingQuality = CompositingQuality.HighQuality;
                g.SmoothingMode = SmoothingMode.HighQuality;
                g.InterpolationMode = InterpolationMode.HighQualityBicubic;
                System.Drawing.Rectangle imageRectangle = new System.Drawing.Rectangle(0, 0, newWidth, newHeight);
                g.DrawImage(sourceImage, imageRectangle);
            return thumbnailBitmap;
  • Jeremy (from Australia)

    Hi Chris,

    My comment is nothing to do with this code but I saw an answer you gave on a forum about reading through links (using Itextsharp) and changing the url on the annotation. You seem to know alot about the PdfDictionary object. I am trying to loop through hyperlinks in a pdf document and convert these hyperlinks to internal links within the document – say a link to page 5 in the current document. Is this possible? Any code sample would be appreciated. Any reply would be appreciated. Regards, Jeremy

  • Shankar
  • Frank

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for this great post, but still banging my head against the wall to get the size of vector objects reduced within my pdfs. These things are enormous and cant get them rasterized somehow. Your help would be appreciated a lot!!

    Thanks in advance!,
    Kind Regards

    • Chris Haas

      Hi Frank, to rasterize a vector image you need a program/library that knows how to do that. iTextSharp does not have any of this knowledge and unless it is a Windows Metafile native .Net won’t be able to do anything either. You need to find a library that can handle your vector format first. Once you do that you should be able to use the code provided in this post.

  • Frank

    Thanks for you reply Chris, the quest continues :S

  • stoopidblogJohn

    I just wanted to say I’ve found your iText code snippets to be just as useful as iText in Action. Great job!