Skip to main content

How to Add Books to Your iPad and iPhone Without Connecting to iTunes

Adding third-party ebooks to Apple Books or one of the other ebook apps on your iDevice used to be quite painful. You had to use one of Apple’s proprietary cables to connect your iPhone or iPad with a PC and sync the ebooks between the iTunes “Books” folder and the app.

I found it very frustrating every time I connected a device to iTunes, so much so that I rarely bothered. Syncing was slow (it still is) and when the process was finished, app icons were usually scattered hither and thither. It was such a pain that I usually didn’t bother.

Fortunately, Apple has long since followed Amazon’s lead in making it easy to transfer ebooks to your iDevice.

Here are a few ways you can do that.


You can send yourself an email with the ebook attached, and then open the message in Gmail or another email client. If you click on the attachment, your options will include opening the ebook in an app.

Here’s what that looks like for a MOBI ebook attached to a message in Gmail.

Dropbox / cloud storage

If you have a Dropbox account, and you have the app installed on your iDevice, you can upload the ebook to Dropbox and then use the app to download it and open it on your iDevice. Originally this really only worked with PDFs, but in a latest update Dropbox added the ability to open documents in third-party apps.


AirDrop is Apple’s feature for letting iDevice owners wirelessly share their photos, videos, documents, and more with other Apple devices that are nearby. You’ll need to have Wifi and BT enabled on both devices, and you’ll need to be in close proximity for it to work.

Apple has a complete set of instructions on their site.

Send to Kindle

Many companies are catching up to Amazon in making their systems as easy to use, but the retailer still has a few tricks up their sleeves. For example, Amazon lets you send docs and ebooks to your Kindle or your Kindle iOS and Android apps. It is called Send to Kindle, and you can actually email an ebook to your Kindle app on your iPad, or use an Android/OSX/Windows app to o so

I don’t use this much on the iPad, but I use it all the times to load ebooks on to my Kindle Fire. (What can I say, it’s much easier than using a USB cable).

Amazon has compete instructions on their site.

Similar Articles


Tom S March 4, 2019 um 2:46 pm

A small correction. The Send To Kindle app does not use email, it gets handled by some Amazon web service. As such it can handle larger files (50 MB) and you do not need to whitelist any email address. You also can modify the title and author.

Nate Hoffelder March 4, 2019 um 4:15 pm

I think I may have been mislabeling the email service Amazon offers, then.

Edit: No, I didn’t get it wrong; I was incomplete,

gbm March 5, 2019 um 5:10 pm

You left out Calibre Companion for IOS.

Kit March 6, 2019 um 10:58 am

I haven’t connected my iPad or iPhone to iTunes on a computer in years. Do you even need to anymore? There’s an iTunes app on the device itself; I assumed that meant you didn’t need to connect it to a computer anymore. If I’m buying (or getting a free book) outside the Amazon or Apple environment I usually just download it through Safari on the device itself, and then use the option to open it in whatever app I want to read it in.

Nate Hoffelder March 9, 2019 um 9:55 pm

I wouldn’t have thought that anyone would need this post, but I was still getting traffic on a similar post that was originally published in 2010. That inspired me to rewrite it, add more detail, and republish it.

Karen September 16, 2021 um 12:31 pm

As a 50 year old who is just learning how to do this stuff without iTunes, I thank you for rewriting this information. iTunes has been doing our heads in since we first owned an iPhone 3 each and with our 11’s we are trying to stay iTunes free and using Copy Trans and other programs where possible. Never underestimate those out there who still need this sort of basic information, we are usually the "older" generation and are grateful that people like yourself put this out there for us.

PS My ebooks are on my computer, hence the googling of how to get them over to my iPhone.

Write a Comment