I had several PDF files in iTunes that I had added authors to. Then I upgraded to Mavericks and launched iBooks. It moved my books and PDFs from iTunes, but many of my PDFs now show the author as "Unknown Author".

Is there a way to add an author to these files? I cannot "Get Info" on the file in iBooks like I used to be able to do in iTunes.


Note: This question was originally asked about OS X 10.9 Mavericks. Now that 10.10 Yosemite is available, there is a way to do this easily in iBooks.

up vote 10 down vote accepted

You can use the Automator workflows. Choosing PDF on the left and then dragging the action "Set PDF metadata" (or something similar, my version is in Italian) on the right part of the Automator window you can put author, title and whatever in one or multiple PDF files.

Issues and workarounds: if you update the metadata directly on your PDFs in the iBooks folder it will not update iBooks, so you won't see any change. I suggest to copy your PDFs on you desktop, erase the PDFs from iBooks, use Automator to add the metadata and then re-import (drag and drop is useful here) the books in your iBooks.
I have just finished updating my files, you can't go wrong ;)

To be clear, Bryan Luby's and ReF's answers are both correct. I wanted to elaborate on ReF's answer for those who may have never used Automator before. This will allow you to change the the data for items in bulk.

Changing the Author

  1. Open Automator and in the left-most dialog box select "Finder &
    Folders."
  2. In the subtree dialog box just to the right, select "Get Specified Finder Items" and drag this box to the top of the workflow zone.
  3. Inside the "Get Specified Finder Items" box select "Add..." and choose the files you wish to modify.
  4. In the left-most dialog box select "PDFs"
  5. In the subtle dialog box, select and drag "Set PDF Metadata" into the workflow after "Get Specified Finder Items."
  6. Inside the "Set PDF Metadata" box, check the Author and type in the Desired name.
  7. Click Run, the play button, in the top right corner.
  8. After this workflow completes you can add these files to iBooks and the Author field will be correct.

If you have previously added them you will have to delete the ones where the Author didn't show up.

Changing the Title

Unfortunately, iBooks reads the title from the name of the file; rather than, the title contained in the metadata of the pdf itself. If you want to change this is Automator it is possible. The most comprehensive way is as follows:

  1. As above, use the "Set PDF Metadata" option to update the metadata title to the title of the book.
  2. From the PDFs subtree select the "Rename PDF Documents" widget to the end of the workflow.

This method will only work one file at a time and rename the file for you while updating the metadata. This is a particularly slow way to accomplish this task. It would be faster just to edit the file name directly in finder, or, preferably, use command line arguments and regular expressions to rename the file removing the unwanted parts.

In iBooks 1.1 on Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite:

  1. Change to List view
  2. Click once on the entry that you want to edit, and wait a few seconds
  3. Click once on the author, title, or whatever you wish to edit to make that part editable
  4. Type your changes
  5. Click off that line
  • This is fantastic. I had not returned to this question since upgrading to Yosemite. – William Jackson Oct 29 '14 at 18:05
  • 2
    This seems to only work on the "local" copy in the iBooks database -- it doesn't actually modify the metadata and so doesn't propagate to the version synced to iCloud in recent versions of iBooks. – Andrew Jaffe Mar 24 '16 at 12:02

You will have to edit the metadata for the PDF, but there seems to be no way to do this in iBooks for Mac.

One workaround is to use Preview for this:

  1. Double-click on the PDF file in iBooks and the file will launch in Preview.
  2. Select File > Print....
  3. In the lower-left corner of the drop-down dialog select PDF > Save as PDF.... This will allow you to edit the Title, Author, and Subject PDF metadata.
  4. Save the new file to your Desktop or any other location.
  5. Open iBooks and delete your old PDF.
  6. Now drag and drop the new PDF into iBooks and it should recognize the correct metadata.
  • Annoyingly, iBooks does not seem to read the title or subject metadata. Unless I'm missing something, it seems to take the PDF file name as the 'title', use the 'author' metadata if it's there, and pay no attention to 'subject' – Joe Germuska Nov 20 '13 at 22:11
  • @JoeGermuska That's correct. The only metadata iBooks reads is Author. Title is simply the name of the PDF (without the .pdf extension.) – Joel Mellon Aug 26 '14 at 18:57
  • In 10.13.6, if I print to PDF, setting title, author, and subject, and then open in Preview, Tools→Inspector, all three are empty. Drag it into iBooks, and filename becomes title, with "Unknown author" – WGroleau Aug 1 at 14:19

Here is how to delete iBooks and get book management functionality back to iTunes (including the ability to edit metadata):

  1. Open Activity Monitor and kill the bookstoreagent service.

  2. Delete the file for that service:

    /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/CommerceKit.framework/Versions/A/Resources/bookstoreagent
    
  3. Use AppCleaner to remove iBooks app completely.

  4. Restart iTunes and Books menu will appear again there.

  5. Copy our ebook files from our backup back to internal storage. This is mainly for ebook files that we didn’t purchase from iBookstore. Don’t worry about books that we purchased from iBookstore, we can re-download them again.

  6. Delete the ebook files from

    ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.BKAgentService/Data/Documents/iBooks/Books
    

    …so iTunes library will detect them as missing. Right click for each book, choose “Get Info” and it will ask the location of the file. Point the location to the ebook file that we have restored. Yes it’s probably a long and tiring process especially if we have plenty of books.

    An alternative way of step 6 is to delete all the books from iTunes library and re-import them from the files. All the metadata we created before should remain unchanged.

  7. Re-download books that we purchased from iBookstore. Or alternatively if we have those books in our iPhone or iPad, we can just sync them with iTunes and choose to transfer those books.

In other words: It's not just to choose your files and change it the way you do it in iTunes with artists. Much easier-even if I don't have anything to add to that problem..

(In Google Play/Books you can change name easy-and in a jiffi!)

  • Telling us that some other product is better does not answer the question, which is how to do it with this product. – WGroleau Aug 1 at 14:22

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.