How to add PDF files to read in iBooks on your iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone

This brief tutorial will show you how to add PDF files to iBooks so that you can read them on your iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone.

Note: there’s also a nifty way to use Dropbox to add PDF files to iBooks – but if it’s a large PDF file, you’ll probably want to stick with the method outlined below.

  1. First up – we’re going to make the assumption that you have iBooks installed on your iPad/iPod Touch/iPhone. If you don’t, click here to install it.
  2. Now open up iTunes. Select File -> Add to Library….
  3. Navigate to the PDF file(s) you want to add to iBooks. You can select more than one file, or select an entire folder. Once you’ve made your selection, click Choose.
  4. Now select Books from your iTunes Library. You should see the PDF file(s) that you just added, now listed.

  5. click to enlarge

  6. Right-click (ctrl+click for single-button Mac folks) on the newly added PDF and select Get Info.
  7. First select the Options tab. Make sure that the Media Kind: is set to Book.

  8. click to enlarge

  9. Now select the Info tab. From here you can add any missing info – the authors name, the published year etc. When you’re done, click OK.

  10. click to enlarge

  11. Almost done. Now select your iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone from the Devices list in iTunes. Select the Books tab from the list at the top. Make sure that Sync Books is checked. If you want to sync all of the books you’ve added to iTunes, select All Books and then click the Sync button. If you want to only sync specific books, choose Selected Books and then place a check next to each of the books you want to sync (and then click the Sync button).

  12. click to enlarge

  13. Now open iBooks. You’ll see a PDFs button at the top. Tap it.

  14. click to enlarge

  15. You’ll be presented with a list of all the PDFs you added via iTunes. Tap one of them..
  16. and it will open in iBooks. At any point in time you can tap the screen and a menu will appear at the top. From here you can change the displays brightness, search the PDF, bookmark a page etc.

  17. click to enlarge

  18. That’s it – you’re done!

259 thoughts on “How to add PDF files to read in iBooks on your iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone”

  1. I can’t get the PDF files to show up in the ipad Books tab for sync. iTunes seems to know they are books, marked etc, but for some reason the sync processes ignores them.

  2. Hey none of my books are showing up in iBooks.

    yes i hav iTunes 9.2

    and iBooks 1.1

    Thanks! a great guide!

  3. I second the above two comments, pdf may be for ipad only. I have iphone and there r no pdf files there but itunes shows books in my memory. I have followed all the steeps u said exactly. But y no pdf tab?!!

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  6. Thnx Every1, Although I followed all the steps correctly, turns out problem was with my jailbreak! Now a new version is released redsn0w-0.9.5b5-4 which has fixed my problem. CIao

  7. Can you do the opposite? On the iPad save a PDF opened from a web page to iBooks, to be synced to your PC later?

  8. Don – Assuming you have iTunes set to sync all your books, yes, a PDF file added to iBooks via Safari or an email etc, will be transferred to your PC/Mac the next time you sync.

  9. Thank!! A well written tutorial!!! It was a bit of a pain for the first one, with so many stepd. But the second one took a matter of seconds.

  10. hey i’ve followed your steps but when i click sync books it warns me that all my songs and movies will be deleted. Is there anyway i can sync my pdfs without deleting everything else?

  11. Thanks excellent tutorial – works great as long as you don’t create any custom genres for your PDFs. Once I categorised my PDFs into a pre-existing genre, they magically appeared (after a few seconds delay.)

  12. Thanks, for your helpful tutorial. All of my movies, music, audiobooks and TV shows have now been removed from my iPhone. There’s hours of work that I have to look forward to.

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  15. hi,

    I read your description and it seems to be a good one. However, I have a little problem. I’m a windows user, and when I look at my iTunes library, it only contains:
    music, movies, tv shows, apps & podcasts, and not books. Do you have an idea on how to include the section books to my iTunes library.

  16. 1. I follow all the steps and still can’t see my pdf files in ibook on my ipod touch 3rd (gen with latest software), though I can see my pdf books under “books” icon in my itunes; Is books in itunes different than ibooks in ipod’s application?
    2. In my ipod touch 3rd, I cannot see “books” icon in the home page. I can only access ibook from applications, which means I will need to use wifi to connect it. Can’t I download free books to my ipod touch if the book is free and read it offline?
    3. My ipod touch doesn’t connect my home wifi even after I gives password for wifi. Don’t know what to do now.

    Can anyone help? thank you.

  17. sorry, i was wrong. i can read ibook samples from ipod touch when I am off line and the ibook icon is shown on my ipod. But I still can’t import my own pdf files from my itunes into my ipod. i don’t know where went wrong.

  18. @Jasperv: To add “Books” to your library, open iTunes, select Edit > Preferences, then in the General tab, check “Books” and click Ok. It will now show up in the Library pane.

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  20. Steve Ducharme

    Thank you for this information – this is very valuable; just got my iPad and I have a lot of PDFs so knowing this process is very helpful.

  21. Thank you so much for your help! I’ve been trying all day to get Stanza to work on my phone and toyed around with other readers in the process. I finally downloaded ibooks but worried about converting my pdf files. Thanks to your tutorial, I had them on my itouch in minutes.

  22. 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..

  23. i find it difficult to understand that such an advanced company as apple needs to do the transfer between systems this difficult. it is stone age

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  25. I put some pdf’s into my iphone 4 library, which is great. I put them in via email, now I would like to email one of them from my iphone 4 to someone, is it possible to email a pdf from my iphone?

  26. i have performed this process. thanks very much. my problem now is to fit the book pages to the iphone window. it’s such a hassle to enlarge the font (for it to be readable) and then have to move from side to side i can read it. is there a way to do it? is converting my pdf to epub first will help? thanks a lot for your help.

  27. Thank you so much for this. One of the best and easiest tutorials. Can you please do a similar one on how to transfer VCDs to my ipad? would be eternally grateful!

  28. Thx,

    The sync didn’t work for me (iPod Touch 4th Gen), but just by dragging my pdf from the PC library to the iPod, it worked.

  29. I’m using iTunes v10 which allows the user to drag and drop a pdf straight into it which can then be added to any iTunes device, however the pages of the pdf are not scaled for my iPhone screen as (as far as I can see) all iBooks do.
    Hmmm… OK they are scaled to fit the whole page onto the screen but it is unreadable as it is too small.
    Is there a way (app?) to trim each pdf page so it fits without having to finger pinch the screen to zoom in and then continually scroll the page both left/right and up/down to read the pdf?

  30. I was able to load all my magazine PDFs to my IPAD but none of the photos in the pdfs show up. How can I get them to show up?

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  33. 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

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  35. Good, clear advice – thanks.

    But…

    I want to transfer PDFs into iBooks using my computer at work. When I enable the ‘sync books’ option I get a warning that all the existing books already on my phone will be erased!

    Any ideas?

    Thanks :-)

  36. I followed this note and now I cannot sync my books without deleting all my photos and music!!! While it is nice to have the PDF manuals I want on my iPhone, it is NOT nice to have to recover 3000+ photos and 1000+ songs every time I want to add a new manual.

    You can read PDFs WITHOUT doing damage to your system; the capability is built into the iPhone. Just send it as an attachment. Not the nice organization but infinitely less hassle….

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  38. OMG, thankyou so much for this tutorial. My other half showed me all the way up until adding the pdf to library and then just gave up. But I have got it going now, so thanks so much!!!

  39. Another way to read a PDF file is to upload it to your web host/server and read it through the browser. That’s what I’ve done. I try to use iTunes as little as possible. ;)

  40. se me hace mejor el app que baje recientemente. les recomiendo el app MisDocumentos para iphone y ipad. Esta muy buena y en espanol. Con este app yo guardo y leo archivos de excel, word, powerpoint y pdf. Es como si tuvieras el folder “My Documents” pero en iphone y sin tener que hacer jailbreak

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  42. Hey , I did everything you said over there , the book shows up in my Ibooks library ..but when i select it it frezzes . and then the screen of my iphone turns black and exits the application. btw from what i could of see the pages are white .. nothing written on them .
    It would be great if you could help me .. :D

  43. ppl complaining of them having to delete things before transfering is because you have to tie your iphone to 1 computer it will delete everything everytime you switch comps it is so you dont go around to all your buddies comps and take there music and then back to your comp and sync it to you basically pirating stuff.. sucks for us but can see what they are trying to do :)

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  45. Hi there,

    I did it all but it wiped out my music plus it says that the format is not recognized or is invalid?!

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  47. Thank you for the clear instructions. Got my pdf onto the iPad on first try ! Personally, I don’t like having multiple apps for different things when they can be done in one so this is great!!

  48. Hmm… So does this mean Apple has access to what you’re reading and can profile you based upon that (or even report you if.. it seems somewhat illegal ?)

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  50. My problem is that my pdfs are never big enough for me to actually read. Can you help me figure out a way to fix this?

  51. 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?????

  52. Thanks so much for this–I deserve the $2.99 loss for not searching a bit more. Bought an app for nothing!! I would’ve gladly submitted it to you for this info! Thanks again!!!

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  54. It doesnt seem to work for me.. it says all the earlier data will be erased… How do i do this ?? Coz when i go to sync the books to the itouch 4G… i can click on the check boxes… please help.

  55. I tried changing the Artwork of the pdf file but it dont seem to work. Any idea how can i change the Thumbnail of the pdf file?

  56. Hey Friends, it’s really easy to put the PDF files in your iPod touch. Manke sure you have the iBook app (can downoad for free from Itunes store and just takes 5 minutes to install in iPod touch). What you have to do is:
    1. Connect Ipod touch with PC and make sure iTunes is runing. (iTunes 10 and later versions+iOS 4.2 or later)
    2. In iTunes, click on the books option in left side menu items.
    3. Drag your PDF files in the books, your PDF books with pictures will be displayed there.
    4. Select your iPod touch in itunes-> go to Books section in iTunes and click on Sync.
    5. All your PDF books from iPod Tuoch will be moved in iBooks library.
    Open and enjoy :)

  57. iBooks is one of the better pdf readers but if only it would display a double page spread like CloudReaders App. Anyone know of anything better? Thanks

  58. 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!!

  59. 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!

  60. Thanks so much! I really have no idea how to transfer all my massive collection of e-books into my itouch, I tried ‘Stanza’ but i couldn’t navigate through it properly and my listing turned into this huge jumbled mess! But with this tutorial on iBooks I got to transfer all of them in just a few minutes and went straight to reading! Thanks again!

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  62. Some kind of weird error is coming up and the pages are blank. Nothing is working. the name of the book is showing up as weird characters

  63. I did everything as shown but for some reason nothing is showing in my ibooks. It shows that they are in there in the books tab in itunes though.

  64. My I pad wants to delete the books that I already have in my i book is there a way around that as I have not read all of them yet.

  65. iPod Shuffle Manual

    my ipod shuffle becomes unresponsive, I cant turn it off! I Can only somehow control my ipod with the remote on my headphones… is there a soulution ?

  66. Brilliant thank you – but be careful syncing books first time coz mine wanted to delete all my songs etc and I have a thousand of them, all painstakingly selected from my iTunes as I don’t just add every album I have! Once added to the library just drag and drop from library/books to the iPhone icon as previously mentioned by someone here, quick and easy

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  68. Hi, I tried getting my pdfs into iBooks by downloading them as an attachment in my email from Safari, and it worked, but it wasn’t zoomed in at a nice size like all the iBook books are, and I was hoping your instructions would fix that problem, but they haven’t and it’s still exactly the same as my method. Is there any way to make it so that I don’t have to zoom in, and then constantly be moving the page to the side and down to be able to read?

  69. But there is a PROBLEM.. If I choose to sync books then I get the warning that ALL MY SONGS AND MOVIES WILL BE DELETED. I don’t want them to be deleted. Any other way PLEASE??

    1. Mrsclassicscrazy

       I got this message the 1st time I tried.  I hadn’t read the instructions correctly.  I hadn’t added the books to the Library on Itunes on my PC desktop first.   When I did that it worked.  Only problem is the print is small.

  70. Doesn’t work. Seems the iTunes PC version doesn’t have a Devices Tab/Section whatever.
    Stupid incompatible Apple. I hate my new iPad.

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  72. Richard…when you plug the iPad into your PC and bring up ITunes you will see your IPad listed to the left under “my devices”

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  77. I didnt find this helpful at all. the version of itunes your using is old and is not set up at all like the new version.

    1. Anonykous Coward

      You, sir, are a nincompoop if you lack the nous to apply the instructions provided to a newer version of iTunes.

    2.  i agree..  i have the latest version of i-tunes 5.1.1   I cant even find the “sync” tab.  I went through the whole thing step by step and am more frustrated than when I started.  I got an I-pod, not for music of games, but for my school work so that i would not have to lug my laptop around with me.     If this is the correct tutorial for i-pod 3rd generation 32gb.. can someone tell me where I went wrong?  i was able to get as far as “sync books” and as I said, the tab is not there.

      1.  leave it to me to fine my mistake right after I post.  Mattsgr8,   when he says to go to the “Books” after you click on your i-pod name, he is not talking about where it is listed directly under your device name..he is talking about in the main window at the top.  click there and it will open up the way it is displayed in this tutorial.  then you can sync it.

  78. Mrsclassicscrazy

    Thanks for the help.  Instruction clear, only problem is iBooks imports it in small print and I can’t figure out how to enlarge it

  79. That was clear and easy to follow. Thank you. I mean that sincerely. But What a Stinking Hassle!!! Has Apple never heard of “drag & drop???!!”

    1. Hi Rachael, try looking on the pdf section of the ipad, it will show books on one book case and PDFs on another book case, I hope this helps.

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  81. i am running up to date vista and most up to date itunes 10.7. when I choose the folder of pdf files, the files dont get added to itunes. I follow the extremely simple instructions to a T and they don’t get added.

  82. Thank you so much! This tutorial was very helpful and easy to understand! :))
    I can finally use my vacant time to review my professors’ slides in my phone. :)

  83. This set-up process is a little slow, a faster way is to download ibooks onto your device then open safari and open the link to the pdf. Once its loaded at the top of the page under the address bar to the right there is a button for “open in ibooks” or just open in. Select open in ibooks and then the pdf is auto saved offline for future reading, less steps, no computer involved and easier.

  84. 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.

  85. This advice is obsolete. The newer itunes has a tiny icon in upper left corner. It has no label. It has a menue with “add file to library.” Hope this saves someone a lot of time.

  86. Why? When I follow these steps exactly, but the book I saved to iTunes is damaged and cannot be open.

  87. aguyfromontario

    simply email them to yourself.. open them on your ipad.. click the arrow to share in top right and select open in ibooks.. VERY simple!

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

  90. 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.

  91. Unbelievable that people think Apple is so intuitive. Very powerful Kool Aid. I just want to take an PDF attachment someone emailed to me and put it somewhere on the iPad that I can look at it later. I don’t want to go to my computer, mess around with iTunes, and workaround another failing in an Apple product.

    1. In the iTunes “Summary” for the iPad, select “Sync with this iPad over Wi-Fi”

      At least you won’t have to plug the iPad in to the computer.

    2. If iBooks is installed, just attempt to open the PDF from your email and it will ask which program you want to open it in (iBooks should be an option) as well as any PDF readers you may have installed (e.g. GoodReader).

      What’s not intuitive about that?

  92. I followed your tutorial, and the pdf’s did appear in iBooks on my iPad (I have a huge number of recipes that I’m converting from FileMaker documents to pdf’s). Thanks so much!

    However, I thought WiFi meant wireless. Why do we need to use a cable to synch my MacBook Pro and iPad over WiFi????

    1. Except that when you download iBooks to your iPod it says that you need iOS 7 and asks if you’d like an older version of iBooks instead. I have iOS 4.2 and it works fine. I just don’t have the pdf tab

  93. 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!

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  95. why 9 steps????!
    it should be just 2
    and apple is pretty good at making things difficult for the end user
    a simple operation of copying a pdf or a random file to the ios device can get tedious for no apparent reason

    the variant with the mailed file, open in Ibook is much more easier.

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  99. Seems helpful for transferring books to my new bought iPad pro. but when I want to have a sync with iTunes, it said that the process would erase my iPad contents, so I have to searched alternative way online, and finally make it by using free trial of AnyTrans. It takes me about 2 days to solve it in all. Apple device is sooo.. user un-friendly, never buy another one.

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  101. Dude, thanks, such a detailed guide.
    A more flexible way to add large PDF files to iBooks in iOS (10) devices with no data loss and to organize iPhone iPad iBooks library is using WinX MediaTrans. This top-notch clean and safe iPhone iPad iBooks manager enables users to add, export and delete PDFs, EPUBs, MP3 audiobooks in iPhone iPad iBooks library in a super easy and fast way.

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