An Apple iPad ~2 Month Later Review & Update
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Getting PDF Feeds Automatically On Your iPad

With the release of Apple's iTunes 9.2 and the iBook 1.1 application release for the iPad (this also works reportedly on any iPhone or iPod Touch with iBook 1.1), you can now get PDF files automatically downloaded into the iBook application.


Here is how I was able to get it done:

  1. Subscribe to a RSS feed in iTunes that provides you PDF content.  For me that was Make Magazine, Beatweek magazine, and premium content from Manager Tools.
  2. Then hook your iPad to your computer and do a Sync.  After the sync is done, go to the iPad icon in iTunes and select the Podcasts tab and make sure your iPad is syncing to the RSS feed content. If the feed like Beatweek is selected in the Podcasts tab you won't see anything in the Episode list since a PDF isn't according to Apple a media format like MP3 or MOV.
  3. Now go to the the Books tab on the iPad and check Sync Books.  Depending on your preference you can select All Books or Select Books to sync.  I used Select Books and then checked the books I wanted.
  4. Then you can do a Sync and your PDF's will be in the iBooks applications on the iPad.

I did notice two "bugs" or "issues".  The first, only PDFs that appear to be listed in the Books Selection area in iTunes are PDFs that have been downloaded since iTunes 9.2 was released.  I haven't been able to seamless get older PDFs to load in this manner. The second, the feeds now show up in your Podcast list in iTunes.  If you go to a podcast feed with PDF files, the PDFs are listed there (--:--), and if you click on them the screen goes blank trying to play them like an audio or video file.  Just tap once and you should be able to exit out.

Before this option, I have been successfully using GoodReader for PDFs reading, but this new iBook method is pretty compelling as it can be setup to be automatic.  These two bugs are pretty distracting though, and hopefully they will get addressed soon.

Thoughts? Comments? Let me know!



Steve, how often do you tend to Dock your iPad? I'm pretty infrequent, so I'm still finding it easier to just throw PDF's I want to read into my dropbox folder and use the GoodReader's native dropbox access to grab them.


Retailgeek - Now that you mention it ... I do doc my system a lot but that is mostly to pick up the latest news podcasts from WSJ, CNN, NPR, etc. You can get new podcasts on the device but it easier doing a big download to the computer and then sync. Automatic sync to my podcast list on the iPad would be great.

Dropbox is also my main way of getting content on my iPad. With the iThoughtHD program I can get to all my MindMaps which is where they are stored so I can use them on Mac, Windows, and now iPad.

software testing consulting

Showing pdf in iBOOK is very wonderful thing, I was looking for doing that for quite a long, thank you for showing the whole process from the beginning.



I am trying to get this to work with an ipad on IOS 4.2.1 and iTunes 10.1.1, but I can't get the pdfs to show up in iBooks. They do show up in iTunes, but do not sync to iBooks.

Is your procedure still valid for these newer versions?

Steve Holden

Jan -- You are right ... it seems to be broken based on the test I just did. I usually don't go this route since I've been using GoodReader and Dropbox as my main way of reading PDFs.

Wow! what a great idea.Showing PDF In Ipad is wonderful.Thank you for showing the whole process from the beginning.I will try this on myApple Ipad.Thanks.


If you right click on a PDF in the podcasts list in iTunes, then select Get Info, on the Options tab you can change the media kind from Podcast to Book. It will then show up in the Books section, which you can then sync. You can change the media kind of several PDFs at a time by selecting more than one at a time and using the same method.

Steve Holden

Thanks for the tip.

This seems to work like you said.


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