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"How to sync my pdf folder on my MacBookPro with my iPad?"

3739 Views 12 Replies Latest reply: Mar 9, 2014 8:36 PM by tmsmd1976 RSS
zsooboogie Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
May 31, 2013 12:02 PM



I've just bought an iPad and have problems syncing it with my MacBookPro.


I'm a PhD student, and I have a bunch of scientific articles in pdf format, collected in one folder, organized in subfolders by topics on my MacBookPro. I've installed acrobat reader to my iPad, which works quite well, but I need to transfer all the articles from my MacBookPro to my iPad (organized in subfolders in the same way) and keep the folders synced. So that once I download a new article on my MacBookProo I could find it in the same way on my iPad and vica versa.


Does anyone have any idea? I'm so confused about it, and I need to find a quick and simple solution, which doesn't need the files to be converted, renamed or reorganized.

iPad 2, iOS 6.1.4
  • nsdjoey Level 3 Level 3 (645 points)

    Hi zsooboogie,


    I use Dropbox to sync my folders with my iPad. I am able to maintain my folder/file structure and have offline capability (as long as I click the star icon on each file within the iPad Dropbox app). Since I am almost always within range of a WiFi signal, Dropbox has been the best tool for automatic synching of documents on my MacBook Pro with my iPad. Give it a shot!!


    Hope this helps.


  • nsdjoey Level 3 Level 3 (645 points)

    Hi Zso,


    Is there a reason why you need to move them over to Acrobat Reader? You can view PDF files within the Dropbox app. And if you click the star icon in the upper right corner of a PDF, it saves an offline version so you don't have to be connected to the internet:




    I haven't ever downloaded the Adobe Reader app. I've been able to view all my PDFs with other apps like Dropbox.


    Hope this helps!


  • Simon Slavin Level 4 Level 4 (1,390 points)

    The format that your annotations are stored in is part of the PDF standard and understood identically by Apple's applications like Preview.  Try opening a PDF you've made notes on in Preview.

  • MayLake Calculating status...

    Hello Everyone,


    Has anyone figured out a *satisfactory* solution to Zso's issue of how to sync folders and subfolders between an iPad and MacBook Pro? When a sentence in a PDF file is highlighted on the iPad, it should upon syncing automatically be highlighted in the copy of the file in the MacBook Pro (after first saving the file).


    Has anyone developed an app that can do this? Sync Folders Pro seems to only work on Macs and not iPads.


    Thank you for your feedback.

  • RT Ang Calculating status...



    I have the exact same problem, and I am also a PhD student. So basically, I have one main folder, 5 subfolders, around 4 to 5 sub-subfolders and up to a few hundred pdf files in these folders. Ditto to the need for extensive annotations and notes. Is there any way to 'star' the main folder so that everything is in sync?

    Android has Dropsync, which connects to dropbox to do the above, and it is free.

    Has somebody figured out what to do? Thank you!

  • Dadaborg Calculating status...

    Hi there,


    I know this is an older thread, but since it came up when I searched for answers myself and people are still asking, I'll offer a workaround and some alternatives.


    First of all, this workaround will not work well with folders. If you need a similar sorting functionality, you'll have to prefix you files with the folder name. This can be achieved without too much trouble by using Automator, but it's not optimal at all. Otherwise you have to sync folder by folder and move files around on the iPad.


    Secondly as far as I know you must remember to manually sync to you computer every time you have made annotations on your iPad and then sync back to your iPad in order to transfer any new PDFs.


    For this you can use iTunes file sharing. It's on the Apps tab for the device in question. (If I try to do it with a file that I transferred to Adobe Reader on the iPad by any other means, I get an error about not having permissions.)


    In Adobe Reader for iOS you can create and delete folders and you can select multiple files and move them to a folder. This folder and it's content can be synced to the computer in one go, but not back to the iPad... When syncing back, you can select multiple files but not folders, meaning you have to do folder by folder as previously mentioned.


    It's not pretty but you can make it work.


    Alternatively I've tried to use for this. It works fine on my iPad but for some reason I can't connect to from within Adobe Reader XI (ARXI) on my Mac. It should work, though, so maybe you won't have any problems. I might stick with this setup, if I can get ARXI to connect to


    Finally you can ditch Adobe, iTunes and Dropbox alike and use a real reference manager like Sente 6 or Bookends instead. Sente 6 is completely free on both Mac and iPad if you can keep each library (folder) under 100 references and don't need to sync more than 250 MB, otherwise it's US$ 60 for academics. Bookends on Mac has a limit of 50 references in Demo mode (US$ 50 to register) and costs US$ 10 for the iPad version.


    I've been using Bookends for a long time and since you can choose where to store attachments I suppose you can even sync to Dropbox if you want – and you can have it rename your files in many different ways (currently I use the APA 5th Edition format). I just didn't realise it could annotate on iPad and keep libraries in sync.


    I found this post ( te-versus-bookends/) discussing pros and cons of those two in case you need help to decide.


    I hope this is helpful to someone other than myself :-)

  • RT Ang Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi Dadaborg,


    Thanks for offering this alternate solution.


    I have found a free app that can both sync my dropbox to my ipad and annotate pdfs. Documents by Readdle. Dropbox is still useful as it serves as both a backup, and offers easy access via different terminals. Documents can sync with dropbox and many other cloud apps, and saves the pdf files to my ipad. Any annotations to my pdfs will be synced to dropbox. The initial sync takes a very long time though, probably due to the 10GB load in my dropbox.


    Documents is probably better for people who doesn't want to pay for any app. I'll definitely check out bookends to see if that can be incorporated as a citation tool into my macbook though. Thanks! ^_^

  • Dadaborg Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    RT Ang,


    thanks for bringing Documents by Readdle to my attention. I agree that Dropbox is useful for those purposes, I only suggested ditching it since I had not found a good (and free) solution for annotating PDF's on the iPad and syncing with Dropbox.


    It just might be, that Documents-Dropbox-Bookends in combination is the perfect solution – at least for me :-)


    If you want to try out Bookends, make sure you set Bookends to use your Dropbox folder for attachments or it will put everything you add in ~/Documents/Bookends/Attachments. Also, Bookends can be configured to import from a Watch folder. So, if you put new articles in that when you download them, Bookends should detect them, and add them to you library. I haven't used this feature myself so I don't know exactly how it works.


    Since you have a huge collection of articles I guess it'll take a long time to add them all, so I'd suggest that you add them on a per-project-basis. Add articles as you need them instead of all at once. Bookends does a lot of work for you but it's not fully automatic and foolproof.


    Good luck and happy researching :-)

  • tmsmd1976 Calculating status...

    Have any of you tried Papers (now in verson 3)? I find it great for organizing my pdf journal articles.


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