Is there a way to sync the iBooks that were not purchased from iTunes on my iOS device with my OS X iBooks? Specifically, I have some PDFS I'd like to sync.

Please note I am seeking to synchronize the books themselves, not just highlights and notes.

  • Do you mean sync as in sync the files or sync the bookmarks and notes? – ThomasW Nov 14 '13 at 4:38
  • @ThomasW Both, but primarily the books/files themselves. – Tohuw Nov 14 '13 at 16:57
  • At this point I don't know of a way to sync the book files. Apple doesn't support it. This could be a good "third-party opportunity". – ThomasW Nov 15 '13 at 1:43

I have a similar problem. Non-iBook store epubs don't sync with iOS devices, no matter what options are switched on/off.

Looking at the directory they're now stored on in Mavericks (~/Library/Containers/com.apple.BKAgentService/Data/Documents/iBooks/Books), they seem to have been converted to a different format (from .epub to a folder with xml/html files), and i suspect that's why they don't sync.

Any suggestions on how to sync these would be most appreciated!

EDIT: To answer my own question, check that iTunes is actually syncing all books. It had changed my previous preference to selected books, and preferentially un-ticked all non-iBook store epubs. Changing that fixed the syncing problem for me...

  • Yep, I've noticed this with my non-store epubs as well. It's a shame, isn't it? Really, it's all that's lacking to eliminate the desire for the Kindle app, etc. for me. – Tohuw Nov 14 '13 at 16:56
  • I believe you can simply drag the books into the iBooks window.(I did a search on ePub) and grabbed the books I wanted. Not too elegant but it worked. – David DelMonte Nov 22 '13 at 15:59

You absolutely can sync notes and highlights for ePubs not purchased from iTunes when using iBooks on your Mac and iOS devices.

Here is how:

  1. Place your not-purchased ePubs in iBooks on your Mac.
  2. Connect your iOS device to your Mac.
  3. Open iTunes.
  4. Select your iOS device in the left column.
  5. Click Books.
  6. Choose All Books or Selected Books.
  7. Click Apply to copy the books to your iOS device.
  8. Repeat steps 2 to 7 for other iOS devices.
  9. Enable notes and highlights syncing for iBooks on your Mac and each iOS device.
  10. Make notes and highlights in any of the ePubs you have copied from iBooks on your Mac to your iOS devices. These notes and highlights sync to all other devices.

It is very important to use the same version of the book on you Mac and all of your iOS devices. You cannot download an ePub from Gutenberg to your Mac and then download it again to your iOS device and expect notes and highlights to sync. That probably won't happen. If you think it through, this makes sense because iBooks needs to know for sure which files to use for syncing and file name alone is too imprecise.

  • As I've clarified before, I am looking to sync the books themselves. – Tohuw Nov 21 '13 at 19:19
  • With the recent changes to iTunes and iBooks, I'm not sure if this is any longer correct. iBooks has been split from iTunes, and the sync processes (computer to computer, computer to device, and computer to cloud), are not yet working. I imagine this will change soon. However, as of now, you have to physically copy the books to the various devices, and manually add them to iBooks. – David DelMonte Nov 22 '13 at 15:43
  • with the newest version of iBooks, everything is now syncing over the air - i just open any ePub (with iBook as default application) and it's imported to ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.BKAgentService/Data/Documents/iBooks/Books. It then just syncs... My problem (and the reason it didn't work for me initially) was that iTunes had changed it's syncing preferences from all to only ticked items, with older, non-iBookStore ePubs unticked... – Stam Kapetanakis Nov 30 '13 at 18:45

On OS X copying files from the container below will copy the books from your library.


To copy the Highlights and Notes you did, you need to copy the files from


There are two ways to synchronize your own eBooks/PDFs between iBooks on the Mac and iBooks on an iOS device.

  1. using iTunes
  2. using iCloud

Short answer: synchronising own eBooks/PDFs doesn't work when iCloud synchronising is turned on on the Mac but not on the iOS device.

Long answer and my experience:

Problem 1: my own eBooks/PDFs were not visible in iTunes

Reason: on the Mac -> System preferences -> iCloud -> iCloud Drive there is a checkmark for iBooks.app.

When this checkmark is checked, iTunes is no longer responsible to synchronise own eBooks/PDFs.

Problem 2: I didn't get my own eBooks/PDFs in my iPad/iPhone

Reason: I did not have the iCloud Drive App from Apple on my iPad.

After downloading the iCloud Drive App, there are a few new options in the iOS preferences:

Preferences -> iCloud ->

  • iCloud Drive
  • iBooks
  • and many more

This iBooks option is not available, when the iCloud Drive App is not installed and turned on.

After turning on the iClod Drive option and (after a few seconds) the iBooks option and then starting iBooks, iBooks will ask if you want to use iCloud.

After saying yes, all the own eBooks and PDFs are available for download one by one and controlled from th iOS device.

  • Nice rundown. Just as an FYI, the option to sync via iCloud didn't exist when I asked this original question. – Tohuw Apr 18 '17 at 23:31

I found a simple way to transfer PDFs from iBooks to any computer, or app you have on your iDevice... However, you must be jailbroken for this to work.

Here's how:

In Cydia, download and install a file manager like "Filza" (it's in the BigBoss repo)

  • Note: your iDevice might respring once installed

Solution A) To your computer:

  1. Open Filza

  2. Click settings icon in the right top corner and enable WebDAV server.

  3. Open a browser on your computer and navigate to the address given by Filza

  4. You will find a file manager / ftp like solution. Navigate to "/var/mobile/Media/Books/Purchases" and download pdf files.

Solution B) To another app:

  1. Open Filza and navigate to "/var/mobile/Media/Books/Purchases" without quotes.

  2. Long press on the file, select "Open in" option that appears and select your app of choice.

Normally it will either copy or link the file to your application. If it's linked , then the original file will stay where it was.

  1. Alternatively, assuming you use Filza, you can select "Move" (or copy). Then press on the Favorites (star) icon, and tap on "Apps Manager". Find the app of your liking in the list that follows and tap on it.

  2. Enter the "Documents" folder that you will find, and paste file there. (Note: sometimes I experience the required folder is called "Inbox")

  3. Open the app, and start reading.

It's really simple and faster than syncing through iTunes.

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