Using iBooks

screenshot of ibooks store


The iBooks app allows you to download and read eBooks and PDF documents. Flip through pages with a swipe or a tap, bookmark pages, or add notes to your favorite passages.

In this guide we’ll download the App and go through the process of finding a book and downloading it – in this case a iOS User Guide.


  • iOS Device – iPad, iPhone or iPod
  • An Apple ID
  • An Internet connection via a wireless or 3G connection


  1. Open the App Store application on you iOS Device
  2. To find the iBooks App simply use the search function OR you can tap Categories > Select Books, and sort
    by Most Popular OR Tap on Top Charts and browse the Top Free iPad apps. Select to Install the app and if prompted type in your Apple ID.
  3. Once iBooks has been installed open the application.

Using the iBooks Store

  1. Once you have opened the application your bookshelf appears. In the upper corner, tap the Store button and the bookshelf flips around to reveal the iBookstore.
  2. From the iBookstore, you can browse books by title, author, or genre. You can also view featured books, Top Paid and Free books. All your purchases are available on any device you have logged into.
  3. To find out more about a book tap on it to see more details and download a free sample.
  4. Once you have decided to buy a book or download a free book tap the Price or the Free button. The book will automatically appear on your iBooks bookshelf.

Using eBooks & PDFs from the Web

To read books or PDF documents not available in the iBooks store, you will need to add them to iBooks. There are two ways to do this.

  1. If you are on your iOS device use Safari to browse to the link or actual file.
  2. When clicking on the link for a PDF it will open in the browser window. Tap the window and a title bar with an Open In… button. Tap the button and choose iBooks from the list of available applications.
  3. If you have ePub and PDF files on your Mac or PC you can use iTunes to copy them to your device.
  4. Add the selected eBook or PDFs to your iTunes library by choosing File > Add to Library OR drag the files into the iTunes window.
  5. Use iTunes to sync your iPad. Plug in your device, select it using the Device button and go to the Books page.
  6. Check the Sync Books box and then choose All Books or Selected. If you have chosen Selected you can tick the box for each document you wish to sync. Once you have made your selection select Sync for the actions to be confirmed.
  7. Open up iBooks, and your new books will now automatically appear in your bookshelf.


iBooks sorts your various files into Collections. By default eBooks and PDFs are placed into separate collections.

  1. To navigate to books select Collections and choose Books.
  2. To navigate to PDFs select Collections and choose PDFs.
  3. You can also create your own Collections to group documents together. To do this select Collections and choose New.
  4. Types in a relevent name for your group and then tap Done
  5. Go into your Books or PDFs collection and tap the Edit button in the top right.
  6. Select the books you wish to move into the new collection you created – you can do as many as you like. Once done tap Move and choose your new Collection.
  7. Creating Collections allows you to collect different file types and group them according to subject or research areas.

Navigating an eBook

To Navigate an eBook you have a number of options.

  1. Simply swipe backwards and forwards to page through the document.
  2. Use the Contents menu by tapping the button next to Library. This will allow you to jump between sections.
  3. Use the Search function to search for words or phrases.
  4. Use the slider option at the bottom of the screen. Tap and Hold your finger over the bar and section titles will be displayed as well as the relevant page numbers.

Customising the View

Most eBooks are capable of being customised to suit different user preferences and make them easier to read onscreen.

  1. Open an eBook and tap the aA Text Button next to Search.
  2. You can change the screen brightness by sliding the bar.
  3. You can toggle the font size between smaller and larger using the two buttons.
  4. Selecting Fonts will bring up a menu to allow you to choose a different font to improve readability.
  5. By selecting Themes you can change the screen colour from White to Sepia or Black, which also adjusts the font colour. Sepia reduces the contrast and Night is best suited to nighttime reading and reduces screen glare. You can also adjust the view between the standard Book view, Full screen which removes the edges and binding elements and Scroll which turns the books replaces ‘pages’ with a scrolling document.

Define, Highlight, Notetaking and Search.

iBooks allows you to select eBook text just like standard document and websites. It includes a contextual menu that allows you to manipulate your selection and perform additional tasks.

  1. Tap and hold over the word or section you wish to use.
  2. Define your selection using the two blue handles.
  3. Then select one of the options:
    • Copy – allows you to copy text and place it into the clipboard. You can then paste the text in another app.
    • Define – will search the inbuilt dictionary for the definition and display it. You can also then choose to broaden the search to the web or Wikipedia.
    • Highlight – allows you to highlight sections of the text. You can vary the colour and choose to add notes too. This replicates using a highlighter on printed material and margin notes.
    • Note – allows you to place notes that are linked to the selected text. These can be used to navigate and exported later.
    • Search – brings up a search box with the selected text pre-entered. Great for cross-referencing terms in the text.
    • Share – allows you to send the selected text to email, SMS, twitter or Facebook.

Bookmarks & Notes

You are able to add Bookmarks (which define a place within the text) and Notes (see above) throughout an eBook.

  1. Bookmarks allow you to create marked places throughout the text. This allows you to quickly navigate between relevant sections or to mark your progress.
  2. To navigate your bookmarks tap the Contents button and you will see Contents, Bookmarks & Notes appear as buttons.
  3. Select Bookmarks to see a list of all the book marks you have made. To jump to a bookmark, tap it.
  4. Select Notes if you wish to find areas of the text you have highlighted or where you have left notes. You can jump to these notes and highlights by selecting them.
  5. Notes can also be exported. Select the Share button at the top right of the screen when in the Notes tab.
  6. Choose Edit Notes and then select the notes you want to export or choose Select All in the top left.
  7. Once you have selected highlights and notes select Share and then tap the Mail application. You can then send the marked up sections to the relevant email address.

I’m the Innovation Technology Officer here at CSU where I make, think, help, support, train and advise on technology in Education.

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