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Summary:

Getting PDFs into iTunes to sync them with iBooks on your device can be a bit of a chore. But by using the method below, you can send any document or even web page straight to the Books section of iTunes for syncing with ease.

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Getting PDFs into iTunes to sync them with iBooks on your device can be a bit of a chore. But by using the method below, you can send any document or even web page straight to the Books section of iTunes for syncing with ease.

To get iTunes ready is simple. All you have to do is open your Applications folder, and make an alias of iTunes by control-clicking its icon and selecting ‘Make Alias’. Now drag your newly-created alias and drop it in [Your Home folder] → Library → PDF Services. What this does is adds iTunes as an option when you select the PDF button in a Print dialog.

At the moment when you click PDF under Print, it’s going to say ‘iTunes alias’, which isn’t very informative. Rename your iTunes alias in the Finder to something along the lines of ‘Send PDF to iTunes’ or ‘Add PDF to iTunes’ and the menu item in the Pront dialog should update next time you open it.

Now whenever you have a document or web page open that you’d like to read in iBooks, all you have to do is go to File → Print, then click the PDF button in the lower left and choose your menu item for iTunes. The document will be saved as a PDF and sent straight into the Books section of your iTunes library.

This method works for any application that can open PDF files, not just iTunes.

  1. I’m running 10.6.4, but I don’t seem to have a folder named PDF Services in the Library folder. Couldn’t find it elsewhere either. Please help.

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    1. I believe you can just create the folder if you don’t have it. Then follow the directions above and you should be good to go.

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      1. Sure enough, simply creating the folder worked. Thanks!

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  2. Don’t worry. Just create one and it’ll work just fine.

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  3. The folder called PDF Services is located on the root level of your hard drive /Libarary/PDF Services. It is NOT located in the home folder /Library. I added the iTunes alias to the PDF Services folder on my Mac, and this works great. Thanks for the tip even if you did give us the wrong location :)

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    1. You weren’t given the wrong location. Putting it in /Library/PDF Services makes it available to all users on the system. Putting it in ~/Library/PDF Services (and you can create that dir if it doesn’t exist) makes it available for that user only. I prefer not making changes to the system, so the latter is my choice, and it will also survive a clean system install.

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      1. The article make it seem that this folder was already there. It did not say to create the folder. After I commented, I tried it out by creating the folder manually in ~/Library. It worked just the same. It seems that the writer merely made the mistake of not specifying that the folder had to be created first. I teach people how to use their Macs all the time, and it is not a good idea to assume that they know anything. It’s best to start out showing them everything until you get a sense of what their knowledge level is.

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      2. @howie isaacks
        I guess you should request a refund for the poor training then.

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      3. Again, what Dean said. :)

        While we can’t assume they know anything, we also can’t assume they know nothing.

        It’s about balance and you can’t make everyone happy or plan for every single user’s situation.

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    2. What Dean said is spot on. We gave you directions to add it to your individual user account…not the entire system.

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  4. Or, for $0.99, you can get Goodreader for the iPhone/iPad, and download the DropBox app for free, and access your PDFs in a much easier (and currently superior in grafx rendering and speed) fashion than iTunes/iBooks.

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    1. Or for free you can avoid downloading multiple apps (or any apps) and just use what Apple provides right out of the box.

      Certainly don’t see how your method is “much easier” by any stretch of the imagination.

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  5. @Brad: Your better off than me. I can’t find “Make Alias” in the contextual menu. I’m running 10.6.4 as well.

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    1. It should be between ‘Duplicate’ and ‘Copy’, but if it really isn’t there, try looking in the Actions menu (the gear icon in the toolbar). If you still can’t find it, you can make an alias with the shortcut Command-L.

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      1. Yeah, not allowing it, even with the cmd-L shortcut. I wonder if TotalFinder is causing this? I can do it for a file, but not an application. Weird.

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      2. Ah, holding down cmd-option and dragging to the desktop created the alias. Strange things going on.

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      3. @Sam Are you in an admin account or a standard user account? If you’re not an admin, you can’t made an alias to iTunes.

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  6. really good article, works perfect, didnt know how to do this till now!

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  7. MySchizoBuddy Thursday, July 1, 2010

    What if you have 100s of pdf books. is there a way to use automator to do this in a batch.

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  8. MySchizoBuddy Thursday, July 1, 2010

    Once the Book icons is there inside itunes you can then drag and drop all your pdfs in it.

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    1. MySchizoBuddy Thursday, July 1, 2010

      you cannot add folders of pdf files though. just the files themselves.

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    2. MySchizoBuddy Thursday, July 1, 2010

      Looks like it cannot read pdf metadata. itunes thinks they are music files and giving music related metadata for pdf files.

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  9. This don’t seem to work for me. I am on 10.5.8

    I get this error message > Saving a PDF file when printing is not supported. Instead, choose File > Save.

    Help PLS.

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    1. I’m on 10.6.4 and am getting the same error Saving a PDF file when printing is not supported. Instead, choose File > Save.

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  10. It’s really much easier to accomplish than all that. :)

    In iTunes, simply choose File > Add to Library… Navigate to the PDF you wish to add, and click Choose. Make sure the document is set to sync in your iPad/iPhone Books tab.

    No other apps involved. (Using 10.6.4 and iTunes 9.2)

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    1. That only works if your file is already a PDF. This tip tells you how to make any file – text files, spreadsheets, etc – into a PDF and send it to iTunes.

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  11. So funny that Apple makes simple file management a chore. iTunes is the worst application to be handling files like this.

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    1. Just drag and drop – can’t be easier than that.

      In iTunes, select the Books icon in your Library, then drag any PDF to the window.

      This ‘Quick Tip’ has really made a mountain out of a mole hill.

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      1. Not really, the method demonstrated here allows you to export to PDF any web page directly to PDF in iTunes, not just drag files that are already PDF’s there. Sure, it’s pretty simple to print to PDF, then find it in finder and drag it to iTunes, but it seems that this cuts out a step or two.

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  12. There is a better way to do it… email yourself the PDF then save it on your iPhone 4 & it then stores it in iTunes as well as PDF in your books when you sync to iTunes.

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    1. Some would call that the worst way to do it, myself included. Using email as a file transport for yourself? Adding a PDF to iTunes by sending it to the iPhone and subsequent sync? How convoluted can you get? Acckk!!!

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      1. Kerry Cromer Thursday, July 1, 2010

        No Dean… not so silly when you think that by emailing yourself can can store the PDF & never fool with it again until you would like to delete it.

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  13. Make a playlist in iTunes and drag the PDFs You want to sync to the iphone in that playlist. Mark what to sync to the iPhone as You do with music or films or podcasts and sync. Works great.

    S.

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    1. Kerry Cromer Thursday, July 1, 2010

      Stan,

      This makes a lot more sense… THANKS!

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    2. Thanks Stan, I had trouble creating the alias as instructed above.

      @ Josh
      You might wanna consider a screen shot of some of the important steps ’cause that would really help us follow your tips next time… Kudos!

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    3. As Pat mentioned earlier, dragging files to iTunes only works if they are actually PDF files. This tip is for adding any file to iTunes.

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  14. daveharcourt Friday, July 2, 2010

    Really nice, thank you! These kind of posts always make me think of all the things I don’t know about!

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  15. To make an alias to iTunes you need to be logged into your Administrator account. If you are using your Standard User account, the “make alias” won’t be an option.

    What I did was to drag the PDF to the iTunes icon on my dock. The PDF is now in the iBooks section of the iTunes library, ready to be synced with my iPad.

    PS: I am running 10.5.8

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    1. If you are using a Standard User account (not an Admin account), and you want to “make an alias” of iTunes, hold command+option while dragging the iTunes Application icon. You should see it has a little “alias” arrow on it as you drag and when you drop it it should make an alias (tip provided by Adam Christianson of The MacCast podcast).

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  16. I’m running 10.6.4 and I found the following worked just as easily to add the iTunes option to the print menu, to convert any webpage or document into a PDF saved as an iBook in iTunes:

    click file
    click print
    click PDF
    click edit menu
    click +
    click applications
    click iTunes
    click open
    click ok

    iTunes is now in the PDF menu so just click on it – done!

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    1. Alan Tullett Tuesday, July 6, 2010

      this worked in 10.5.8 as I just did it and is the easiest way to do it I would say. Howver the resulting pdf files are still very difficult to read on an iPhone as the pages are too big. How do you put everything on small pages i.e. create a iBook file.

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  17. It just works! Thanks guys, I was going to build something with Automator! doh! Here’s one for simplicity!

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  18. we can actrually simply drag the pdf files into iTunes and get them sorted under the Books section :)

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  19. When I click on print it doesn’t seem to launch iTunes. Instead I see new pdf documents created in /Library/Documentation/Applications/iTunes/. This doesn’t show up in iTunes. No one else seeing this?

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    1. Sounds to me like you created an alias to the wrong “iTunes,” i.e. instead of making on to the app in /Applications/iTunes, you made an alias to the doc folder at /Library/Documentation/Applications/iTunes. Try it again.

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  20. man you are my HEROOO ive been looking everywhere for a simple way to do this and everyone says they have the “easy solution” but you my man are the one and only true solution you are my hero!!

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  21. how! can i put something on itunes like a book,apps

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