My wife has an iPad Air 2 running iOS 12.4.1. She has saved many PDF files into iBooks over the years from various sources such as websites.

Her iPad is dying, and she doesn't want to lose the PDFs.

She has an ancient Mac laptop running Yosemite, but the books refuse to sync to iBooks on that. We installed a trial of iExplorer but I couldn't find any of the PDFs in the directory structure.

How can we export the PDFs - either to iBooks on the Mac, or (preferably) as normal PDF files? Doing them one-by-one (e.g. by emailing each, or copying to dropbox) would not be feasible, as there are hundreds of them.

I have looked at similar questions on this forum, but have not found a solution that works for us.

EDIT: Added pictures demonstrating that no books can be found in the iPad filesystem, using iFunBox:

  • Root:


  • iBooks:


  • Managed:


  • Purchases:


  • Sync:


There is nothing in Downloads either. And yet, the books are present in the app.

  • Database folder seems convincing.. Did you check all the sub-folders ?
    – anki
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 20:32
  • Yup. Nothing in there but a database. Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 14:59

3 Answers 3


You will need to use iFunbox as your iOS tool to manage PDF files on iOS. This iOS tool makes it quick and easy to export PDF files from iPad and iPhone to Windows and Mac computers. Make sure you download and install this app on your computer before proceeding.

Once you have downloaded and installed iFunbox, connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac/ PC and then start the app. Once the devices are connected, you will detect a file list on the right-hand side of the iFunbox. When you click on the File Browser button, you will see the iBooks option. Click the iBooks list so that you can see all the PDF files and books on your iPhone or iPad. Now you can choose the PDF files you wish to backup. To do this, hold or drag shift and click to choose the PDF files to back up. You will then need to right-click on the PDF files and select copy to Mac/ PC to save the PDF files on your computer.

Disclaimer: I am a satisfied user of this application iFunbox, and have no financial or other ties to the developer of this application.

  • Please edit your answer to add a disclaimer indicating that you are, or are not, the developer of this app. When I recommend apps, I usually write: Disclaimer: I am a satisfied user of AmazingApp, and have no financial or other ties to the developer of AmazingApp. Conversely, you could write: I'm the developer of iFunBox.
    – IconDaemon
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 15:41
  • Thank you @IconDaemon. The answer is updated accordingly.
    – Udhy
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 15:57
  • I'm afraid this did not help. There are no books showing in the filesystem. I shall update my question to include screenshots of this attempt. Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 20:11

Although, https://privacy.apple.com says

Your download will not include App, book, movie, TV show, or music purchases.

I don't know if imported items are treated as purchases or not. So you can request all data, except photo and mails(they're big in size and useless here). You can request once without iCloud Drive and if it doesn't contain books, give a try to iCloud Drive files too.

Also, find another Mac, sign into books and get all the files out from there. iCloud syncing for books will need to be enabled. You'll then find books in

iCloud Drive⁩ ▸ ⁨Books⁩

But I couldn't go there in Finder.

~/Library/Mobile Documents/iCloud~com~apple~iBooks/Documents/HarryPotter.epub

^ This will work.


I had this same problem, and I found a solution. First, download Adobe Acrobat app for your device.

Next, you have to go into your iBooks app on your device, go to Library, and click the 3 dots under the icon for the pdf. Then choose "Import to Acrobat" (or "Save to Files > Acrobat" which is a little faster if you have a lot of them) . From there you can export it to your computer through iTunes File Sharing or using one of those apps like iFunbox or iExplorer. Just look for it under Acrobat in the file sharing program.

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