How to Make a PDF Black and White

If your PDF is not going to be printed in colour or a colour view doesn’t matter, then converting the PDF into a black and white file can make it considerably smaller. If size is more important than colour - for example, when needing to fit in an email - removing colour is a good option.

Find out how to convert a PDF into grayscale with our easy-to-follow guide.

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What you’ll learn.



Quick list: how to turn a PDF grayscale.

Follow our quick guide to start converting your PDFs into grayscale.

  1. Access the menu. Using the Print Production tools, find the Preflight option. This is for edits you want to make before your PDF is saved, printed, or emailed out.
  2. One-click editing. This is where you can change the colour of the entire document in one step.
  3. Grayscale. Next select Convert to Greyscale > Analyse and Fix. This will convert everything in your document to shades of grey.
  4. Give it a name. You can now save your file. Choose a name for it and pick a save location.


In detail: how to make a PDF black and white step-by-step.

Use our step-by-step guide to strip colour from your PDF quickly and easily.


1. Start by opening the document you want to edit inside Adobe Acrobat. Switch to the Tools menu and find the icon for Print Production. Click on it.


2. Now choose Preflight from the menu that opens.

3. Scroll down the choices until you find Convert Colours. Expand this menu and you will see all the colour options.

4. Double click on Convert to Grayscale to export your PDF into a new black and white version. You can now save this copy under a file name and location of your choice.

Benefits of removing colour from a PDF. 

There are a lot of reasons why you might want to make a PDF black and white. Let’s take a look at some of the top benefits.

  • Smaller file sizes. PDFs without colour take up less space than colour files. This is because there is less information needing to be stored. There’s no point wasting space on colour files if you don’t need them.
  • Save on ink. Coloured ink is much more expensive than black, and the last thing you need is someone unnecessarily printing a document in colour. This can be very easily done in a busy office and where the printer automatically detects colour settings. Prevent mistakes by saving all PDF files in black and white when the colour isn’t needed.
  • Get a preview. Make sure your infographics, graphs, and diagrams don’t lose data when printed by saving a copy in grayscale. You can then tweak the colours in the original document as needed. 


Still have questions? These are some of the most frequently asked questions:

How do you create a PDF?


Within Adobe Acrobat it’s easy to create a PDF. Within the program, just select Create PDF and then select the file or files you want to convert.


From another program, for example Microsoft Word, go to the Print options and change the printer destination to Print to PDF. Choose the destination for your file and a newly created PDF will be saved there.


How do I create a PDF from images?


PDFs are versatile and can be created from a variety of sources, including images like JPG and TIFF files. You can check out our handy guide to Converting Images to PDFs or follow this quick summary:

  1. Open Acrobat and select Enhance Scans.
  2. Choose the fille you want to convert. Most image and scan file formats will be recognised by the software.
  3. Click the magnifying glass to get Acrobat to identify errors. You can accept or edit these one at a time. Then click Done when you’re finished. 

How do I print my PDF?


You can set the printing colour from within Adobe Acrobat by accessing the File menu and choosing the Print option. Locate the button for Advanced Options and click it. Under the Output settings make sure the colour is displayed as Composite Grey. Your PDF will now print in shades of grey.


Related Acrobat content.

Try our other tips and guides to make the most of Acrobat.

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