I have fallen in love with my Apple iPad. It’s so much more fun and interesting than a Kindle, but there’s one thing I haven’t figured out yet: how can I copy and read PDF files on the iPad? I know you can do it, I just can’t figure out how to copy and read PDFs?
This is another example of where Apple’s strategy of EWI (Everything With iTunes) ends up being a liability, because what you’d kind of hope you could do is plug in your iPad to your computer, then see it show up as an external disk and just drag and drop whatever you want to have show up on the device. Ah, were life so easy…
PDFs can actually be read through PDF apps on the iPad (go to the iTunes store and search for “PDF” to see what I mean), but my preferred solution is to use the iBooks application from Apple, since it has the pretty bookshelf visualization, etc.
The question is: how do you get those PDFs onto the iPad, and how do you then access them within iBooks?
Turns out that you treat the PDF files exactly as you would music or video files. Let me show you…
Open up iTunes and plug in your iPad. Now simply drag and drop the PDF file into the top left portion of the iTunes main window:
Now go to the “Books” section of iTunes and guess what shows up? Yup, your PDF:
Here I am copying the instructions for the game Castle Ravenloft onto my iPad to read later. I don’t really like the “Unknown Author”, however, so I’m going to fix it by choosing the PDF file, then File –> Get Info:
A quick tweak, a click of the “OK” button, and now I want to move to the iPad management area in iTunes:
Now go to the “Books” area and you’ll see the PDF file shows up:
As with other content, you’ll want to check “Sync Books”, then most likely also choose “Selected books”, then make sure that the check box is marked adjacent to each and every PDF you want to have on your computer. Click “Sync”.
Now the fun part: once the sync is done, launch “iBooks”. You’ll see your PDF file on the bookshelf:
Tip: If you don’t see it, note that on the top left you can choose between “Books” and “PDFs”. Make sure you have PDF selected…
Tap on the PDF file, and…
Slick, eh? You can delete the PDF file from within iBooks, by the way, which is interesting, because I don’t know of any other Apple apps for the iPad that let you actually delete things on the device without a computer being involved.