How to add PDFs to iBooks using Dropbox

by Ross McKillop on June 23, 2010

iPad iPhone iPod

This brief tutorial will guide you through the steps required to add PDF files to iBooks on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, using Dropbox.

Update: it has been pointed out to me that this method only works if you have an iPad – and that it does not work on an iPod Touch or iPhone.

One solution that may work for you if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch is to copy the link to the PDF from the Dropbox app, then paste it in Safari. At that point you’ll be prompted to open it, and you can select iBooks. This method won’t work if you’re running iOS 4 on your iPhone or iPod Touch until Dropbox updates the app to work with iOS 4. Thanks to kaushalmodi over at Lifehacker for the tip!

Another solution for folks using and iPhone or iPod Touch (including those using iOS 4) is to use Safari and navigate to the web version of your Dropbox account. From there, you can tap the PDF (in Safari) and it will prompt you to download and then open with iBooks.

Note: If you aren’t near the PC/Mac you use to sync your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch with, using Dropbox is a great way to get PDFs into iBooks. If you are near the PC/Mac that you use to sync your device with, this tutorial might be faster for you to get those PDFs onto your iPad (iPhone or iPod Touch).

Dropbox is a fantastic service that allows you to store files (2GB for free, or $9.99 per month / $99.00 per year for 50GB) online. It also syncs those files across all of the computers you own that have the Dropbox software installed, and, you can access all of your stored files via a web browser on any computer. For more info on the Dropbox service, see their overview or sign up here.

After you’ve signed up for Dropbox, you’ll need to install the Dropbox app on your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch. It’s free, and can be found in the iTunes Store here.

  1. Lets get started. Add a PDF file (or several) to your Dropbox account. Once the PDF has been uploaded, open up the Dropbox app on your iPad (iPhone, iPod Touch…).
  2. Tap the “Dropbox” button in the very upper-left corner of the app. Navigate through your Dropbox folders to locate the PDF file that you want to add to iBooks. Select it by tapping it once.
  3. Depending on the size of the PDF (and your current Internet connection speed) it may take a while for the PDF to load.
  4. Once it has loaded, tap the “Open with” button on the very upper right corner of the Dropbox app.

  5. click to enlarge

  6. Select iBooks from whatever may be listed (will vary depending on which apps you have installed).
  7. Your PDF is now saved in iBooks and will be available for you to read any time you want :)
  • http://www.noyblog.it Noy

    Sorry but… there’s not an “Oper in…” button in the iPhone version of DropBox.
    Or I missed it?

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    Noy –

    I’m using the version of Dropbox for the iPad – which I think may actually be different than the one for the iPhone/iPod Touch. I have a touch around here somewhere and I’ll update it and install dropbox and ibooks and see if I can figure it out. Thank you very much for pointing this out!!

  • Dizzledorf

    Doesn’t work for Dropbox on the iPhone / iPod Touch, only for iPad.

  • Tyler

    Dude, if this worked on iPhone.. that would be awesome.

  • http://www.cagedata.com David Long

    Dropbox hasn’t released a iOS4 version yet, but I am sure it is on the way down the pipe

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  • http://webtrickz.com/ Mayur

    Nice find but there is no way to do this on iPhone or iPod Touch. Hope Dropbox releases a iOS4 compatible version soon.

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  • http://www.thegeekpub.com/ Mike

    This seems to work on my iPad but not on my iPhone. Are you on iOS4 or iPhone OS 3?

  • bluesydude

    You can open PDFs with iBooks from email on the iPhone.

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  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    Absolutely true – you can open PDFs from email and save them in iBooks. The problem is most email providers only allow for (at best) 20MB attachments. I have a bunch of PDF files that are 30-40MB, so the dropbox method (or this one) would probably work best for larger PDFs.

  • C

    open with doesn’t list iBooks even though iBooks is loaded on the iPad… it does show stanza and cloudreaders… odd and annoying.

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  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    C – I had that problem too until I forced my iPad to look for updates, and it found the (very) recent one for iBooks. THEN the PDF’s would load in iBooks, open in iBooks was available etc.

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    Mayur – I’ve updated the tutorial (see the very top) with several workarounds for iPhone and iPod Touch users, even those with iOS4.

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  • Christi

    I don’t have the option to ‘Open in iBooks’. I plugged my iPad into my computer and used iTunes to look for updates but it didn’t find any. Is there another way to force it to look for updates?

  • Christi

    For some reason it just started working! I plugged it into my computer and before it didn’t give the option and when I finished it did. No idea why that was, I didn’t update anything.

    Thanks!

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  • http://matthew.cyndle.com Matthew C

    This does work on the iPhone – it’s just a little different. Go into dropbox, and open a PDF. Then tap the Link button at the bottom left, and copy link to clipboard. Then open the link in safari, and tap Open in iBooks. iBooks then downloads the PDF.

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  • Brack

    Is it technically possible to do this on the iPhone/iPod running iOS4? itms-books:// protocol doesn’t work when launching a URL to a PDF

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  • http://www.vinodlive.com Vinod

    Thanks much.

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  • http://zachwingo.info Zach

    dropbox has a small icon in the lower right corner and it gives the option to automatically add the PDF to iBooks

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  • cm

    i just confirmed this works on the iphone 4 os 4.1 with the latest version of dropbox and the latest version of ibooks

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  • Shel

    Safari won’t let me dowload DropBox. Now what?

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  • indyram

    I have used this technique to transfer
    pdf files utilizing dropbox to the iBooks
    in my iPhone 3 GS running OS 4 and it
    does work for me.

    Ram

  • indyram

    This is in response to Shelp’s question

    You don’t have to download dropbox using
    Safari. Just download it using apps application

    Ram

  • lse

    IBOOKS Do not appear in the list of ebook Readers in “Open In” drop down (upper right corner) of drop box, what do to appear it or cloudreaders or other reader ?

    currently appears iRead, eBookMobi, BookMan, EasyPdf only.

  • lse

    please answer my Q asap…

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  • Amin

    For the Iphone, I use the app called FileApp, it allows me to use its open with functionality to add the file to iBooks

  • Doug

    Would love to know how to delete the PDF’s I have tried deleting on Mac etc etc etc but it keeps coming back .

  • Caleb

    to get it to open in dropbox iphone/ipodtouch just open the pdf and click the bottom right hand corner button.

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  • Tom

    It is 2012 and this article is still very excellent and easy to follow, barring a few minor changes in interface. Worked great for my Iphone4.

  • http://twitter.com/AskATechTeacher Jacqui Murray

    You can do this through Carbonite now, for no extra fee–just whatever you’re charged for the back-up.

  • carter_nberkeley

    iPad is brand spanking new to me, I wanted a way to save text docs like recipes, it seems so strange that there’s no direct method of moving text files to the iPad. This method is a little convoluted (converting text to pdf) but it works like a charm. Thanks.

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  • http://www.mobilecasedirect.com/ Brian

    I didn’t event think about docs I have on my Google docs. Great idea & easy to follow.

  • Rich

    Thank you – very helpful!

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