Several users have reported that they can’t open PDF in Books (or iBooks for iOS versions 11 and below). With Books or iBooks, you should have the ability to open, view and print all types of PDFs all within Books on any iDevice, including iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.
The tips below work for Apple Books app (iOS 12+ and iPadOS) as well as iBooks app (for iOS 11 and below.)
- View a PDF file in Safari and save to Books for current iOS and iPadOS
- How to create PDF in Safari using iOS 12 and below
- Still can’t open PDF in Books?
- Opening PDF from another App?
- Try Using the Files App or a Third-Party App
- Reader tips
- Books Missing After Latest iOS Update? How-To Fix
- Books Not Downloading and Related Problems? Tips
- Books Store Not Working or Showing Blank Screen? How-To Get It Working.
View a PDF file in Safari and save to Books for current iOS and iPadOS
- This works for Safari–you may not see the same share sheet options in other browsers
- Tap the Share Button (the square with an Up arrow)
- Choose Books or Copy to Books from the share sheet
- If you don’t see an option For Books or Copy to Books, tap the More button from the share sheet–swipe on the share sheet’s app icons to locate
- Scroll down the list of apps to find Books or Copy to Books and tap it. iOS automatically saves a copy of the PDF to Books
- Tap the PDF and select “Open in …” banner
- Choose Copy to Books
- If you don’t see Copy to Books, tap the More button
- This function automatically saves a copy of the PDF to your Books PDF shelf
Books or Copy to Books missing for iOS13 or iPadOS?
If you can’t find Books or Copy to Books anywhere in your share sheet, try adding it in using the Shortcuts app.
- Open the Shortcuts app
- Select the tab My Shortcuts
- Tap the button to Create Shortcut
- Choose Apps from the list of possible actions (for iPhones and iPods, tap Add Action)
- Select Books
- Tap Add PDF to Books
- Tap the three dots (…) beside New Shortcut
- Toggle on the option to show in the share sheet
- Name the shortcut to something like Add PDF to Apple Books
- Find that shortcut in your share sheet, as an action listed below the share sheet rows of icons. If you don’t see it, scroll all the way down
Try creating a PDF using Safari and then send it to Apple Books (for iOS 13+ and iPadOS)
- Open Safari and locate the page you to read in Apple Books as a PDF
- Take a screenshot of the page and tap to open that screenshot
- At the top, choose the Full Page tab
- Press Done and choose Save PDF to Files
- Select your preferred location in the Files app to save the PDF and press Save
- To open in Books, open the PDF in the Files app first and tap the share sheet, choosing the More button in the second row of app icons. Scroll the list of suggestions and choose Open in Books
How to create PDF in Safari using iOS 12 and below
In earlier iOS versions, it was a lot easier to create a PDF using Safari. First, tap on the Share Button. Then, select the option to Save PDF to Books or Create PDF from the share sheet (wording depends on the iOS version your device uses.) These options are not available in iOS 13+ or iPadOS.
If you’re receiving PDFs via email, try the following
- Open the email with the PDF attachment and tap that attachment once
- Tap the Share button and then tap Copy to Books. If you don’t see Copy to Books, tap the More button
- Open Books and see if the PDF is listed under Reading Now or Library
- Make sure you select PDFs or All Books from your Collections
Still can’t open PDF in Books?
- Ensure that your Books app is up to date (Open the App Store and tap Updates)
- For iOS 12 and above
- Open the Books app, then tap Reading Now
- Tap the profile icon or your photo and choose Manage Hidden Purchases
- Sign in with your Apple ID, if requested
- Find the item that you want to unhide, then tap Unhide next to the item
- For iOS 11 and below, Check that Hide iCloud Books is toggled off
- Open Books and tap on Library tab at the bottom
- Then tap on Collections button (might say All Books, Books, Audiobooks, PDFs, Samples, or something else)
- Look at the bottom of the screen and make sure that Hide iCloud Books is NOT selected
- If using a browser for downloading your PDF, try using Safari if another browser isn’t allowing you to save your PDF file to Books
- Refresh Books Content
- Open Books app
- Tap one of the bottom tabs like Reading Now or Library (or for older iOS My Books or Featured) ten or more times until the screen briefly goes blank
- Books reloads and refreshes its content
- Sign out of iTunes and Sign in Back
- Go to Settings > iTunes & App Store > Apple ID > Sign Out
- Wait 20-30 seconds and then sign back in
- If using iCloud for Books, confirm on your iPhone or another iDevice that Books is ON
- Go to Settings > Apple ID Profile > iCloud > Books
- Toggle Books Off and back on in iCloud
- Go to and toggle OFF, wait 20 seconds, and toggle back ON
- Reset your device (force restart)
- On an iPhone 8 or above: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Then, press and hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo
- On an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus: Press and hold both the Side and Volume Down buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo
- On an iPhone 6s and earlier, iPad, or iPod touch: Press and hold both the Home and the Top (or Side) buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo
- Completely close the Books app and restart
- Swipe up the Home Gesture Bar or Double Tap the Home Button. Locate the Books App Preview and swipe up off the top of the screen to close the app
- Remove the Books app and reinstall
- Tap and hold the Books app icon on the home screen, until the icons start to jiggle. Then tap the “x” in the corner of the app to remove. To reinstall, launch App Store, locate the Books app and download/install
Opening PDF from another App?
If you’re opening a PDF from an app, first tap the PDF file, then tap the Share Button and scroll to the right or left to locate Copy to Books on the Share Sheet.
If you don’t see the Share Button, tap on the screen until you see the Open in Books tab and tap. Books automatically saves a copy of the PDF to your Books bookshelf.
Try Using the Files App or a Third-Party App
If this still doesn’t work, consider using the Files app to locate your PDF files and copy them to Books.
- Open the Files app, then tap the bottom Browse option.
- Tap Locations in the upper-left and choose where your PDF is located (like Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud Drive, On My iPhone, etc.).
- Locate the particular PDF you want to open in Books, tap it, and then tap the Share Button.
- Swipe left or right and locate Open in Books and tap that.
- Once it opens in Books, tap the Share Button again and select Copy to Books from the Share Sheet.
Alternatively, try downloading the Adobe Acrobat Reader App for your iDevice. It’s free and allows you to open PDF docs from email, web, and even apps that support Open In functions. You can also open a PDF in Acrobat Reader, press the Share Button, choose Open in… on the Share Sheet, and then select Copy to Books to move the PDF over to your Books app.
Old PDFs not Showing Up?
Try and copy a new PDF document into Books on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and see if your device now recognizes your older PDF files.
- Here’s my preferred workaround:
- Save the file from Safari or whatever browser you use to the Files app
- Tap the share sheet
- Choose Open in Books
Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.