How to Add PDF Files to Read in Apple Books on your iPad or iPhone

This brief tutorial will show you how to add PDF files to the Books app to read on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

Once upon a time (2010), this guide explained how to add PDF files to the iBooks app. Apple has since replaced iBooks with Apple Books – or Books for short. One of the many things Apple changed is the way you transfer PDF files to your iOS device and into the Books app – it’s significantly easier now. We’ll cover a couple of different ways for both Windows users and macOS users.

Add PDFs to the Books app from Windows

  1. The easiest way is to just email the PDF file to your iPhone or iPad. Send the file as an attachment to an email account that you can access on the iPad or iPhone. If you don’t have a mail account setup on your iOS device, Gmail is a pretty good option since you can access it via Safari on your iPad/iPhone (no need for an app) and the file size limit for attachments is 25MB. Note: if emailing the PDF isn’t a viable option for you, see the section below titled “even more ways to add PDF files to Books
  2. Once you’ve emailed the PDF to an email account you can access on your iOS device, tap the .PDF attachment.
  3. a PDF file as an attachment in an email

  4. The document will open in a ‘preview’ screen. Tap the Send to button in the upper-right corner of the preview window (see screenshot below).
  5. an arrow pointing at the iOS Send to button in a PDF preview

  6. Tap Books from the list of available apps.
  7. an arrow pointing at Books from a list of Apps that could open a PDF on an iPad or iPhone

  8. The PDF will now load into the Books app. If you tap the back button …
  9. a PDF in the Books app on an iPad

  10. … you’ll see that the PDF is also in your Library.
  11. the Boos Library with a new document

  12. That’s it! Repeat as needed with additional documents.



Add PDFs to the Books app from macOS

  1. The easiest way to transfer a PDF from your Mac to an iPad or iPhone is AirDrop. If for some reason AirDrop isn’t a viable option for you, see the “even more ways to add PDF files to Books” section below.
  2. Once you AirDrop the PDF to your iOS device, tap the Accept button.
  3. When you’re asked which app you would like to open the document with, select Books
  4. selecting an App from AirDrop

  5. The PDF will now load into your Books app. If you tap the back button …
  6. a PDF in the Books app on an iPad

  7. … you’ll see that the PDF is also in your Library now.
  8. the Boos Library with a new document

  9. That’s it! Repeat as needed.

Even More Ways to Add PDF Files to Books

If you’re a Dropbox user, there’s also a nifty way to use Dropbox to add PDF files to Books.

If you have an iCloud.com account, use the web interface and instructions from Apple on how to use Mail Drop for large files.

If you follow the steps in this guide but replace the words “Android device” with “iOS device” you can transfer files back and forth between devices using just a browser on your computer and a browser on your iPad or iPhone.


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26 thoughts on “How to Add PDF Files to Read in Apple Books on your iPad or iPhone”

  1. Thanks for the tip! iBook is really useful, before I used to read my pdf on my business app Beesy, which allow displaying and comments, but since I started reading comics on pdf ibooks is more approriate, thanks again!

  2. Thank you so much! I’m getting my ipad soon and I wanted to finish reading these books but I don’t have money to buy them. So I’ll just pass them into the ipad.

  3. Not sure why I couldn’t figure this out myself but your instructions were clear, easy to understand and in a word; Excellent!

  4. FINALLY! I’ve been told before to use all kinds of apps to read my PDF books on my iPad and I hated every single one of them, specially txtr, this is simple and works perfectly.

    Thank you so much.

  5. after emassing a collection of ebooks i thought i’d put them on my ipod and this REALLY helped because i couldnt figure out how to do it. now i can go anywhere and have my books with me. thanks!

  6. Thank you for this VERY VERY helpful info. I just got my iPad yesterday and was close to pulling my hair out because I couldn’t figure out why I could not add my PDF files to my iPad (I’m a first time apple user, apart from my little iPod shuffle which I believe doesn’t really count!) This has been REALLY helpful, and I’ve been googling and visiting sites all morning to try and figure this out.

    Thank you again!!

  7. OK, this is good info and it is working fine for adding PDFs one at a time…..I have tried to add an entire folder with NO results. I choose “add folder to library” and choose the folder to add then click “open” or “ok” but NOTHING happens! Pulling my hair out….suggestions?????

  8. Excellent!! Thank you very much kind sir, your solution to adding pdf documents onto my ipod touch was fairly easy and understandable!! Now I shall be able to read manuscripts and manuals easily and all thanks be unto you!!
    ;-D

  9. man you have saved my life… i’ve been trying all my best to put my pdf files into ibooks for past 1 month but no use.. its was so easy the way u told… thanks alot.. dude..

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