How to store and sync PDFs with Apple Books

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Find out how to store, organize, and sync PDFs across multiple iOS and macOS devices in Apple Books for easy access to frequently used documents and books.

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Image: Apple, Inc.

If you’re looking for a way to store and sync PDFs that you access frequently—whether they’re important business documents or ebooks—don’t to skip over one of the best options for iOS and macOS: Apple Books. The free app not only lets you purchase and read books, but it also imports your existing ebooks in PDF or ePub form, as well as any PDF document that you need to keep in sync between your devices.

SEE: Top 20 Apple keyboard shortcuts for business users (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Where to get Apple Books

Apple Books comes pre-installed on your iOS devices, but if you have an older version of iOS or deleted the app from your device, you can also re-download it and install it from the App Store.

How to import PDFs into Apple Books

Here are the top two methods for importing eBooks and PDFs into Apple Books.

Importing PDFs from another app

You can import a PDF into Apple Books using any app that utilizes the iOS Share Sheet, which lets you share documents with other apps, whether it’s Safari, the Files app, or iMessage.

Open the PDF that you want to share and then tap the Share button. In the Share Sheet that appears on the top row, select Copy To Books (Figure A).

Figure A

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Import a PDF sent through any number of apps by copying it to the Books app.

Creating a PDF using Safari

You can also create a PDF with Safari by navigating to a webpage that you want to turn into a PDF, and then selecting the Share button in the bottom toolbar of Safari. Once opened, select Create PDF from the bottom row of the Share sheet (Figure B). From the resulting preview, tap the Share button again, and then select Copy To Books to import it into Apple Books.

Figure B

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Selecting Create PDF will instantly create a PDF of what you’re viewing in Safari.

Viewing imported PDFs

To view an imported PDF, open the Books app, and then tap the Library tab on the bottom tab bar. Tap Collections at the top of the screen, and then PDFs to view only PDFs that have been added to Apple Books. From here, you will see a collection of PDFs that have been added to the Books app (Figure C).

Figure C

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The PDFs displayed here have been added to the Books app on your device.

Syncing PDFs stored in Apple Books

If you have an iCloud account, you can have Apple Books utilize iCloud to sync your PDFs across multiple iOS and macOS devices. To ensure this is enabled, perform the following steps.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iOS home screen.
  2. Select the Apple ID, iCloud, iTunes, and App Store section at the top of Settings.
  3. Navigate to iCloud.
  4. Ensure that the Books option is toggled to the On position to have your Books app contents sync via iCloud (Figure D).

Figure D

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Toggling the Books option in iCloud settings will allow the Books app to sync the PDFs and books between your Apple devices.

Organizing PDFs in Apple Books with Collections

Collections are the way in which items are organized inside of Apple Books. As you’ve seen in the previous steps, the Collections area of Books (located in the Library tab) already has a PDF Collection that displays all imported PDF documents.

You can create your own custom Collections to group certain PDFs (e.g., work documents). To do this, perform these steps.

  1. Open the Books app.
  2. Select Library | Collections.
  3. Tap the + New Collection… button at the bottom of the Collections list to add a new Collection.
  4. Name the Collection, and then tap Done on the keyboard (Figure E).

Figure E

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Creating a new Collection is quick and easy in Apple Books and affords more organization options.

To add an existing PDF document to this new Collection, perform the steps under Viewing Imported PDFs, and then tap the Edit button. Select the PDFs that you wish to add to the new collection, and then tap + Add To… in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. From the resulting selector, pick the newly created collection to move those documents to that collection.

You can now access those PDFs more easily from the collection you just created without having to view all imported PDFs.

Another option is you can tap the Search button in the tab bar in the main area of Apple Books to search the library—this will search the Apple Books Store as well as your local library. Local results will be displayed at the top of the search results, allowing you to easily pick an item already in your library to open it (Figure F).

Figure F

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Searching your local library will also search the contents of a searchable PDF, giving you better search results than just searching the title of the document.

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