How to Sync iBooks on Multiple Apple Devices

It’s no secret that iBooks is a big mess, but for those who rely on Apple’s own e-book service, at least most of the time it’s viable. If you exclusively use all Apple products, iBooks makes it easy for you to view and sync your ebooks across all your devices, so you can start a book on one device and finish it on a different device.

However, since we just mentioned that iBooks is a huge mess, sometimes it’s not that easy, and syncing iBooks between Apple devices can be a nightmare for people who aren’t quite sure what they’re doing. However, we decided to come to the rescue and at least tried to help you by providing a step-by-step guide on how to sync iBooks across multiple Apple devices including your Mac computer.

before you start

If you want to sync iBooks on your Mac computer as well as your iOS devices, you need OS X Mavericks installed on your Mac and iOS 6 or iOS 7 on your iOS device. You also need to have your Apple ID credentials ready, so make sure you don’t forget the password.

Sign in to iBooks on All Your Devices

If you haven’t yet signed in to iBooks on all your iOS and OS X devices, you must be signed in for sync to work. This is your Apple ID, which is the same username and password you use to purchase apps and other content in iTunes.

Sync iBooks with iCloud

iBooks uses iCloud to sync eBooks between all your Apple devices, and the first time you open and sign in to iBooks on a device, you’re asked if you want to use your Apple ID to sync iBooks. The answer is an obvious yes, so tap on it when this message pops up.

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One thing to be aware of is that all your ebooks are stored in iCloud and if you download an ebook to one of your devices, it will not automatically download it to all of your other devices. This means that in order for bookmarks and the like to sync across devices, you have to download the ebook separately to each device you want to sync.

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When you purchase a book from the iBooks Store, it will appear under “Purchased” on all your devices, but will not automatically download to all devices at once. Again, you’ll have to download them separately on each device to get the bookmarks, highlights, and notes synced across devices.

Starting on One Device, Finishing on Another

If you’re a lot of ebook readers, you usually start reading a book on your iPad, but finish it on your iPhone when you’re on the go. This is where bookmarks come in handy. To create a bookmark and save your current location, simply tap the bookmark symbol in the upper right corner. It turns red to let you know the bookmark creation was successful.

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After switching devices, it can be a little difficult to immediately pick up where you left off at first. You would think that just opening the book on a different device would automatically take you back to where you left off, but you still have a few more taps to get to your created bookmark.

Open the book you want to continue reading on your iPhone or iPad. Next, tap the icon with three parallel lines (to the right of ).

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Then tap the tab at the top. This will reveal all the bookmarks you have saved. All you have to do is click on one and it will take you to that spot in the book.

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When you open iBooks on an iOS device, the books you’ve purchased but haven’t yet downloaded to that device won’t appear on the homepage. Instead, you have to tap the down arrow next to Books and then tap on them to make them appear. From there, you can tap on a book to start downloading it to your device.

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Once a book has been downloaded to all your iOS and OS X devices, bookmarks and all the highlights and notes you take along the way are synced.

Deal with PDFs

If you’re trying to sync with your own personal PDF documents across all your Apple devices, good luck.

It turned out to be not easy to do compared to purchasing DRM-filled ebooks from the iBooks Store. We’ve talked about problems with PDFs in iBooks in the past, but the point is, it’s probably better to use a separate app to sync PDFs (and other non-purchased content) to syncing PDFs (and other non-purchased content) across multiple iOS devices, e.g. Calibre, rather than trying. To make iBooks work with your PDFs. Apple says you can sync PDFs easily, but we found it to be a nightmare.

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