How to Save a PDF to Your iPhone or iPad

It's easy to download or transfer a PDF to your iOS phone or tablet

iPad with PDF image on the screen

Public Domain/Pixabay

When you want to save a PDF to iPhone or iPad, download the PDF from the web or an email, then decide where to save it. Or, transfer a PDF from a Mac or Windows PC to your iOS device.

These instructions might also work in third-party apps.

How to Save a PDF From an Email or Website

The Safari web browser and the Mail app use a similar interface to download PDFs and to preview PDF files.

  1. Select the PDF to open a preview.

  2. Tap Share to open the share sheet that contains options to share and save files such as PDFs.

    If you don't see the Share button in Safari, scroll to the top of the PDF to display the menu.

  3. Select where to store the PDF.

    PDF, Share button, options to store PDF on iOS

    For example, to view the PDF in Apple Books, choose Copy to Books. Or, to save the PDF to a cloud storage service such as Google Drive, select Copy to Drive. Other cloud storage services may include iCloud Drive and Dropbox.

    Tap More if you don't see the option to save to an app that is installed on the device (for example, Dropbox or Google Drive). Select Save to Files to store the PDF in iCloud Drive.

  4. Follow the onscreen directions to complete the PDF download. For example, press Add in Files to save the PDF in one of those folders.

If the web page you want to save to your iPhone or iPad isn't a PDF, convert it to PDF. Tap the Share button and choose Create PDF. Then, select the Share button again to select a location to save the PDF.

How to Transfer a PDF From macOS to iOS

Use AirDrop to wirelessly move a PDF stored on a Mac to your iPhone or iPad. The only requirement is that the Mac and the iPhone or iPad are on the same Wi-Fi network.

  1. On the Mac, open the PDF and select Share.

    Share button on PDF in Preview in macOS

    The Mac has a similar share button as an iOS mobile device, featuring a box with an arrow pointing out of the top.

  2. Select AirDrop, then select your iOS device.

    AirDrop window in Preview for macOS

    In order for your iPhone or iPad to show up through AirDrop on your Mac, it must have AirDrop enabled in the settings and must not be in sleep/suspended mode.  

  3. When you share the PDF using AirDrop, your iPhone or iPad will ask how you want it opened. You can choose Books, Files, or a compatible viewer or cloud storage option. For example, if Amazon Kindle is installed on the device, open the PDF in the Kindle reader.

How to Transfer a PDF From Windows to iOS

One way to transfer a PDF (or any file) from a Windows computer to an iPhone or iPad is through iCloud Drive.

iCloud isn't installed on Windows by default. Download and install iCloud on your Windows PC, then enable iCloud Drive on your phone or tablet and computer to transfer PDF files between your PC and iOS device.

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings, tap your name, tap iCloud, then turn on the iCloud Drive toggle switch.

    Settings in iOS showing iCoud and iCloud Drive

    Use your Apple ID login information to sign in to your iCloud account on Windows and iOS. If you don't have this information, reset your Apple ID password.

  2. On your Windows PC, open File Explorer and copy the PDF file you want to transfer to your iPhone or iPad.

    Copy PDF file in Windows
  3. Go to iCloud Drive and paste the file into an existing folder or create a new folder.

    Paste menu item in Windows
  4. The PDF file is available on your iPhone or iPad using the Files app

When you save a file to iCloud Drive from your PC, the file doesn't download to your device until you select it from the iPhone or iPad Files app. To access the file offline, go online, open the File app, and navigate to the file to download it for offline use.

Another way to transfer a PDF from your computer to your phone is to email it to yourself. When you open the PDF on your mobile device, follow the directions to save it.