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How to copy ePUB or PDF files to your iPhone or iPad

How to copy ePUB or PDF files to your iPhone or iPad

In this day and age, quite a lot of documents can be found in PDF format. But how do you transfer a PDF (or ePUB) file to your iPad or iPhone so you can read them with form example iBooks?

In this article I will show you how to get your PDF or ePUB files on your iPhone or iPad without any effort.

Reading PDF or ePUB: iBooks

In this article we will focus mainly on the use of iBooks, a free app from Apple for iOS and Mac OS X (comes with Mavericks), which supports 2 basic formats: PDF and ePUB.

Difference between PDF and ePUB

Both formats are intended for documents, support images and text, and are design with reading them electronically.

PDF, or Portable Document Format, is a complex (internally) file format, as it is much more advanced in defining it’s page layout (PostScript based) and focussed on accurate reproduction (screen or printed).

ePUB can be seen as a bundled “webpage”, including HTML, CSS, and Image files. These files are nicely zipped together as a single file. ePUB seems more focussed on screen display.

In iBooks, the difference can be seen in the way the content is being displayed. ePUB behaves more like a “book” where as a PDF document behaves more as a computer document.

  PDF files can be converted to ePUB, as you can read in our “How to convert PDF to ePUB documents” article.

Converting PDF to ePUB is optional! 

To read a PDF on your iPad or iPhone you do not HAVE to convert it to an ePUB document.
In fact, quite a lot of PDF documents look better as PDF document. ePUB conversion can ruin some of the layout or images used in the PDF document.

ePUB example

In the example below, 3 screenshots of what a ePUB document would look like in iBooks.
From left to right: Regular page view, flipping a page and display settings.

As you can see, the page view looks much more like a regular book, and when flipping a page the page will be animated as if you’re really flipping a page.

In the display settings you will find brightness, scaling of font, font type, page color and if you’d like to see everything as a full page (up/down scrolling through “Scrolling View”) or not.

Note : The “Scrolling View” eliminates the need to flip pages and allows you to quickly scroll through the document.

ePUB in iBooks: Page view, Flipping Pages, Settings

ePUB in iBooks: Page view, Flipping Pages, Settings

PDF Example

The next example shows a PDF in iBooks, where we see the document as if we’d be reading a Word document.
The pages look more stale and at the bottom (tap the screen if you don’t see it) you will see thumbnails of the other pages, so you can quickly jump to a particular page.

Again from left to right: Page view, Flipping a page, and display settings.

As you can see, the display settings are very limited (brightness).

In contrast to ePUB files, flipping pages does not come with a nice page flip animation, and moving through pages is done via swiping or the thumbnails at the bottom (if not visible: tap the page once). PDF’s also allow the use of pinch zooming, unlike ePUB files.

The biggest advantages of using PDF files are of course that you will not need to convert them (to ePUB) and that the pages are displayed exactly as the author intended.

PDF in iBooks: Page view, Flipping Pages, Settings

PDF in iBooks: Page view, Flipping Pages, Settings

Transferring PDF or ePUB documents to iPad or iPhone

Transferring your document, weather it’s a PDF or ePUB, can be done in several ways, but I have found that the iTools way is definitely the easiest and fastest way to do it …

Note that the trick we use here also works great for pictures and videos (that are not DRM protected – so like the pictures and videos you took yourself).

Fast and Easy with iTools

iTools, which has become one of my favorite tools to quickly exchange files with my iPhone and iPad, makes it super easy to transfer PDF or ePUB documents to your iOS device and is FREE.

iTools is free and available for Windows and MacOS X and we do offer iTools download straight from Tweaking4All.
As always we strongly recommend getting the latest version from the iTools website (Windows, MacOS X).

Download - iTools (MacOS X) 

Filename:  iTools-MacOSX.dmg
Platform:  Apple macOS
Version:  2.4.6
File size:  2.9 MB
Date:  2015-02-11
 Download Now  Send me a cup of Coffee    

Download - iTools (Windows) 

Platform:  Microsoft Windows
File size:  3.6 MB
Date:  2015-02-15
 Download Now  Send me a cup of Coffee    

iTools for MacOS X

After downloading, installing and starting iTools, you will see a window like this when your iPhone or iPad is not yet connected. This would be a good time to connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer with the USB cable.

iTools (Mac) - Your iPhone or iPad not yet connected!

iTools (Mac) – Your iPhone or iPad not yet connected!

After connecting your iPhone or iPad you’ll see something like this:

iTools (Mac) - Your iPhone or iPad is connected correctly.

iTools (Mac) – Your iPhone or iPad is connected correctly.

Importing, Exporting or removing PDF or ePUB documents is straight forward: Click the “Books” button (top button row) and drag your file to or from the iTools window once it shows content.

As you can see at the bottom of the window in the illustration below: Import, Export and Deleting files can be done through these buttons as well.

Make sure the transfer has completed before disconnecting! 

Before closing iTools or disconnecting the USB cable to your iPhone or iPad, please make sure that the transfer has completed!

iTools (Mac) - Books Window

iTools (Mac) – Books Window

iTools for Windows

The Windows version of iTools is free as well but looks very different when compared to the MacOS X version.

Install iTunes and Authenticate … 

iTunes must be installed for iTools to work – either 32 bit or 64 bit version will work.
Start a newly installed iTunes at least once with your iPhone or iPad connected so your phone or tablet has a trust relationship with your computer, otherwise iTools will fail …

After downloading, installing and starting iTools for Windows, you will see the following window when your iPhone or iPad has not been connected to your computer yet. This would be a good time to use the USB cable to connect your iOS device.

iTools (Windows) - iPad or iPhone not yet connected at startup

iTools (Windows) – iPad or iPhone not yet connected at startup

After connecting your device, you will see something like this:

iTools (Windows) - iPad or iPhone properly connected with the USB cable

iTools (Windows) – iPad or iPhone properly connected with the USB cable

To Import, Export or Delete PDF or ePUB files on your iOS device, click the “iBooks” button on the left side as shown below.

iTools (Windows) - View the iBooks section

iTools (Windows) – View the iBooks section

Uploading, downloading or deleting one of your books (PDF or ePUB) is a breeze.

To upload a file (PDF or ePUB), simply drag you file on iTools and drop it, and that’s really all there is to it.

Before disconnecting … 

Make sure any transfers (import or export) have been completed before closing iTools or before disconnecting your iPhone or iPad!

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There are 7 comments. You can read them below.
You can post your own comments by using the form below, or reply to existing comments by using the "Reply" button.

  • Jun 8, 2015 - 10:26 AM - Darrel Hunt Comment Link

    I do not have a computer only iPhone and iPad. How I get my iBook PDFs to synch between devices. 


    Darrel Hunt

    • Jun 9, 2015 - 3:38 AM - hans - Author: Comment Link

      Hi Darrel!

      Very good question!

      AFAIK, you can use iCloud to sync the PDF’s/eBooks between the iBooks apps on your iPhone and iPad.
      It might take a little effort to find the settings though.

      On your iPhone/iPad goto “Settings” – “iBooks” and enable the “Sync Collections”.
      That should do the trick … I hope … 



  • Jul 14, 2015 - 4:25 AM - Rebecalia Comment Link

    To copy PDF/ Epub to iPhone is no longer a tough task, you can use many tools to help you, instead of the way mentioned above, I used two ways in my daily life.
    Apowersoft Phone Manager:  go to “Books” tap and click “Import” button, you can manage to copy PDF files to iPhone. 
    AirMore – wirelessly copy your PDF/ EPUB files to iPhone. Without using USB cable, you can make transfer it. 



  • Aug 8, 2015 - 8:41 PM - rajiv Comment Link

    itunes is already in my laptop.while trying to run itools it is failed and asks for latest version of itunes,need your help .thanks



    • Aug 9, 2015 - 3:46 AM - hans - Author: Comment Link

      Hi Rajiv,

      It would be nice to know if you’re running Windows or MacOS X.
      Also make sure you have the latest iTools version (see also:

      Also … if you’re just transferring movies and music to your iOS device, consider trying WALTR.
      It’s available for Windows and MacOS X – even though it’s not free, the 14 day trial is completely unlimited and could give you a good idea of a great alternative to iTools.



  • Sep 27, 2015 - 2:51 AM Comment Link

    […] See also: Copy PDF or ePUB without iTunes […]

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