Uploading and Downloading Files

  • Ted Padova


Digital publishing documents come in a variety of formats, can be seen using many different types of viewers, and are accessible on several different devices. Some viewers can open the files you copy directly to desktop computers, laptops, and Android devices. Apple’s closed ecosystem prevents you from copying files directly from your computer to an iOS device unless you use a third-party application. Thus, after creating your masterpiece, the next questions are “How do I get my files on a device?” and “How do I add the file to my app?”


Mobile Device Cloud Storage Android Device Local Folder Store Icon 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Digital publishing documents come in a variety of formats, can be seen using many different types of viewers, and are accessible on several different devices. Some viewers can open the files you copy directly to desktop computers, laptops, and Android devices . Apple’s closed ecosystem prevents you from copying files directly from your computer to an iOS device unless you use a third-party application. Thus, after creating your masterpiece, the next questions are “How do I get my files on a device?” and “How do I add the file to my app?”

When you launch an application from a device (particularly on desktops and laptops), most applications enable you to open files using a File ➤ Open command locally on your device. When you use tablets and mobile devices, you use either a Wi-Fi connection or enable the tablet or mobile device’s apps to access files from a location on the device.

There are many different file-sharing utilities that you can use and a number of different methods for getting your files onto a device and recognized by a viewer. I won’t cover all of the options in this chapter, rather I’ll address a few of the more popular methods for accessing files with a number of different apps.

In Chapter  12, I talk about previewing EPUB files in various eBook readers. Before you can preview a file, though, you need to know how to the get files onto a device in order to view them. In this chapter, I talk about exchanging files between computers and devices.

11.1 Transferring Files from Computers to Devices

Preparing files for digital publications is typically handled on your desktop or laptop computer. After you assemble the content, you need to send the file to the device application that is likely to view your content.

Depending on the computer OS you use (Windows or Mac OS X), there are some peculiarities and differences for uploading files to devices.

11.1.1 Transferring Files from Non-iOS Devices

File transfers from your Windows computer to devices is relatively easy. Almost all of the devices that you can plug in via the computer’s USB port open a menu where you make some choices about how you would like to handle the files. Much like plugging in a USB flash drive, you can view the contents of the device. Folders are visible, and it’s just a matter of dragging and dropping files from the computer to the device. The same method applies to Android devices, Kobo eReaders, Amazon Kindles, Sony eReaders, and Barnes and Noble Nooks.

The more complicated step is knowing in which folder to place a file so that an app can view it. You may have locations on your tablet for Books, eBooks, Downloads, Digital Editions, Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, and so on. Some eReaders can access just about all of the potential locations where files are stored, while other eReaders want a specific directory location. You may need to open the reader you’d like to check out and look for a button to Import Files. Test if you can import from a number of different folders and copy files from your tablet to a given app. Poke around, and eventually you’ll figure out the proper location for storing your documents for each eReader app.

11.1.2 Transferring Files to iOS Devices

You have a few options for getting files from your computer to an iOS device. Using Apple iTunes

Apple has made a number of changes to iTunes in version 12, and you may find that trying to get EPUBs and PDF files into iBooks to be a nightmare if you are running the most recent version of iTunes. No longer do you have a Books tab in iTunes, and no longer do you have a left column displaying your iOS device. You can’t sync books as you used to do with earlier versions of iTunes. Even when you add EPUBs and PDF files to iBooks on your computer, you’ll likely experience problems seeing the books on your device’s iBooks app. It’s really quite frustrating.

Rather than spending a lot of time trying to figure out the mess, I suggest you bypass iTunes and use Dropbox, as I explain later in this chapter in the section, “Using Dropbox.”

11.2 Using Android File Transfer

Android File Transfer was developed by Google to provide Macintosh users with a method for connecting Android devices to Macintosh computers. You can download the free application from .

After installing Android File Transfer, you hook up an Android device to your Mac via a USB cable and launch the application. This application is helpful when you need to test documents that you create in InDesign running on a Macintosh and you want to copy the files to an Android device. Once connected to your computer, you have access to files and folders, as shown in Figure 11-1. You can drag and drop documents to your Android device (up to a 4GB maximum).
Figure 11-1.

Android File Transfer gives you access to files and folders on your Macintosh

11.2.1 Using iExplorer

Apple’s closed ecosystem prevents you from accessing files and folders on an iOS device. In order to see the folders where you want to copy files from your computer to your iOS device, you need a third-party application. iExplorer from Macroplant does the job. You can download a free demo from . If you want to continue using the program, it will cost you $35 U.S. for a license.

After downloading and installing iExplorer, connect your iOS device to your Macintosh and launch iExplorer . As you can see in Figure 11-2, you have access to the iOS device’s files and folders. You can delete files and drag and drop files from your computer to folders on the iOS device.
Figure 11-2.

iExplorer gives you access to iOS devices files and folders

11.3 Copying Files via a URL Address

Quite common to PDF viewers running on tablets and smartphones is transferring files via a web browser. Interestingly enough, most third-party PDF viewers use this method while Adobe’s own Adobe Acrobat Reader does not support transferring files via a Web browser. With Adobe Acrobat Reader on a tablet or smartphone, you need to access a PDF file hosted on a web site via Document Cloud, iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox.

If you use a third-party PDF viewer, you may see a Wi-Fi icon in the app, such as the one shown for GoodReader in Figure 11-3. You are offered two methods for accessing your computer via a URL.
Figure 11-3.

PDF viewers often provide a Wi-Fi transfer option to get your PDF files from the computer to an iOS device

Tap the Wi-Fi icon , and a Help screen opens where information is provided for the method to connect your iOS device to your computer. As shown in Figure 11-4, you can type an IP address in your computer’s web browser, or you can access a Bonjour-address.
Figure 11-4.

A help screen provides information on how to connect your iOS device with your computer

Notice that both methods inform you that you need to type an address followed by a :8080. This is common for all apps permitting you to use an address for transferring files.

If we use a web browser , then you open it on your computer and type the URL provided in the app Help screen. If you use the Bonjour-address, go to the Mac desktop, then to the Finder view, and press ⌘+K or choose Go ➤ Connect to Computer. When using the Bonjour-address, you don’t need to worry about working in another application like a web browser. Once you type the address into the Connect to Server dialog box, a window opens displaying the location of the PDF viewer files, as shown in Figure 11-5.
Figure 11-5.

Using the Bonjour-address connection, a new window opens displaying files for the app used to make the connection

You also find the folder mounted on your hard drive. Therefore, if you have several files that you want to add and/or edit, this method makes it much easier to add files, update files, and delete files.

The window that you see is like any other folder. Simply drag and drop files to the mounted drive to add them to your iOS device. You can also delete files and rename them. You can organize files by creating new folders and nesting files within folders. Keep in mind that you must have the Wi-Fi Transfer screen (shown in Figure 11-5) open when making changes.

11.4 Using Dropbox

Dropbox is a cloud storage application that lets you share files on all of your devices. You can install Dropbox on each device—computers, tablets, and mobile devices. There are a number of options available to you when choosing a cloud storage program, such as Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s OneDrive, JustCloud, ZipCloud, and more. Of all the options available for cloud storage, I think Dropbox is the best all-around service, and it’s free to download from .

To sync files between your computer and other devices, you need to download and install Dropbox on your computer. You also need to install Dropbox on all of the devices that you use to transfer files between the devices. Dropbox is available for iOS, Android, Mac OS X, and Windows.

11.4.1 Using the Dropbox Interface

To install Dropbox, you log on to the Dropbox web site ( ) and answer a few questions (first and last name, e-mail address, and supply a password). Agree to the Dropbox terms and click the Sign Up button. The next screen you see offers a choice of account type. You can choose the Basic (free) account, a Pro account ($9.99/month), or a Business plan that enables five or more users to use the account for $15 a month per user. For a free account, be certain that the Basic item is selected and click Continue. After clicking Continue, the application installer is downloaded automatically to your computer.

Once the installer completes the download, double-click the installer and wait until Dropbox completes the install. Dropbox operates a little differently than other applications on your computer. You don’t launch the application from within your Programs Folder (Windows) or Applications Folder (Macintosh). Rather, Dropbox adds a folder to your desktop. The folder appears like any other folder on your computer. However, when you drag and drop a file to the folder, the file is added to the cloud where it can be seen by any mobile device on which you have signed into the Dropbox app.


For Macintosh users, you can add the Dropbox folder to your list of favorites in a folder view. Drag the folder to the list on the left side of an open folder. When Dropbox appears as a favorite, you can drag files to the item or click to open the Dropbox folder, as shown in Figure 11-6.
Figure 11-6.

Dropbox as a favorite on the Macintosh

In order to upload files from your local computer, you need to log on to your Dropbox account. When you log on with a web browser, you see in the center of the screen files stored in your Dropbox cloud storage , as shown in Figure 11-7. To the left are links to several items that include:
Figure 11-7.

The log-on screen for Dropbox

  • Recents: Recent files list .

  • Files: Click Files, and the screen is refreshed showing you the files under the name column.

  • Team: Collaboration with others.

  • Paper: Real-time editing with team members.

  • Photos: Click this link, and you open a slideshow displaying photos you uploaded to your Dropbox account.

  • Sharing: When you click Sharing, the screen changes and you find a button to click for sharing files. You can have several sharing folders for your account. When you click the button, the Share a Folder dialog box opens. You can choose to share a new folder or add more people to a shared folder. Make a choice and click the Next button in the Share a Folder dialog box. You are then taken to a screen where a URL can be copied and sent via your e-mail client, or you can choose to let Dropbox send an e-mail. Recipients of the e-mail can access the files that you add to the shared folder; even users who don’t have Dropbox accounts can access the files.

  • You can also right-click on the files appearing in your Dropbox folder on your computer and choose Share Dropbox Link. When you choose the menu command, a link is copied to the clipboard. You can open your e-mail client and paste the link in a new e-mail message. Once again, the recipient doesn’t need a Dropbox account to access the files.

  • Links: This is similar to sharing. When you share a link, the recipient of the link can click to view the contents and elect to download the linked file(s). On your desktop computer, right-click a file in your desktop Dropbox folder and choose Share Dropbox Link. The link URL is copied to the clipboard, and you can paste it into an e-mail message. On the web site, hover your mouse cursor over a file name and click the Share button that appears. A pop-up window opens. Enter the e-mail address of the recipient(s) and click Send. All of the files that you have linked appear in the Links column.

  • Events: Click Events and you see a timeline of all of the changes that you made in your Dropbox account , such as sharing files, uploading files, a list of other computers and devices that linked to your account, and so forth.

  • File Requests: Click File Requests and you can send a request for a user to send you files. You can add a title for a message and specify a folder where another user sends the files. Click the Next button and a URL link appears. You can copy the link and paste it into a new e-mail message or supply an e-mail address of the one from which you’re requesting a file and Dropbox will e-mail for you.

  • Work Features: Admin services and file recovery.

When you install Dropbox, you get an account page on the Dropbox web site and a local folder on your hard drive. You can add files and folders to your local folder, and files are automatically uploaded to Dropbox. You can see all of the files on all other mobile devices where you install the Dropbox app, but the list represents just aliases (links) to the original files. This is particularly helpful on tablets and smartphones, since you’re not using a lot of disk space for files that you may not use. Tap a link and the file is downloaded to the device.


Keep in mind that on desktop and laptop computers, any files in the Dropbox folders are actually downloaded to each computer. This is different than the behavior on tablets and smartphones, where files appear listed but are not downloaded until you manually instruct an app to perform a download.

11.4.2 Loading Files on Devices

To follow along in this section, you need to download Dropbox and install it on your computer. Log on to and follow the steps to provide your name (first and last), e-mail address, and password. Check the box to agree to terms and conditions and click Next. Click Basic for the free account and click Continue. The application installer begins a download. Double-click the Installer to add the application to your computer.

On a device (tablet or smartphone), log on to the device’s store. For iOS devices, tap the App Store icon to log on to Apple’s App Store. Search for Dropbox and install the application. On Android devices, tap the Play Store icon and search for Dropbox. Tap Install when the Dropbox page opens.

Copy some files from your computer to the Dropbox folder. (When you install Dropbox, a folder is added to your computer.) Open the folder and drag some files to the folder. Using this method actually moves the files from your computer to your Dropbox folder. You can also right-click on a file on Windows and choose Move to Dropbox.

If you want to add a copy of files to the Dropbox folder, press Option on a Mac when you drag files to the folder. On Windows, right-click a file and choose Send To ➤ Dropbox. On both Mac and Windows, you can also copy the file and paste it into the Dropbox folder.

Launch Dropbox on one of your devices. The files that you added to Dropbox on your computer are listed in Dropbox on your device. You can copy a number of different file types to Dropbox, such as Microsoft Office files, plain text files, photos, PDFs, EPUBs, and so forth. When you tap one of the files, you will see a preview of the document in Dropbox. The file has not yet been downloaded to your device. Dropbox simply opens a preview of the document so that you can easily check through various files and locate the one you want to use.

Since our interest is primarily focused on EPUBs and PDFs, let’s look at how you get files from Dropbox to a device viewer. Adding EPUB Files to Devices

On Android devices, when you tap an EPUB file on your device in Dropbox, a pop-up screen displays the apps that you can use to view your document. The file extension should be .epub. To view the EPUB in one of the apps, tap the file name in the Dropbox window. Tap Always to permanently open EPUBs in a given viewer or tap Just Once to view the EPUB one time in the viewer (see Figure 11-8). When you tap again on an EPUB, you make the choice for Always or Just Once again.
Figure 11-8.

Tap the viewer that you want to use with the downloaded file


The list you see on a device only shows you the contents of files residing in the Dropbox folder in the cloud. The files are stored in the cloud (on the Dropbox server). Files in Dropbox are downloaded to your device only when you add them to a viewing app or tap the file to add it to your device. This keeps your device free from a lot of file storage, which you may not want on the device.

On the Macintosh, I also use Dropbox to add files rather than using iTunes. If you use iTunes prior to version 12 to add a book, iTunes needs to sync your library. All of the books in your library are re-synced. If you have a lot of books, syncing the library can take some time. If you need to review updates several times, you’ll lose a lot of time waiting for iTunes to complete the task of syncing the library.

With Dropbox on an iOS device, you can open the EPUB file in iBooks or any other EPUB reader that you have on the device. Tap the file name in Dropbox on an iOS device, and the file is downloaded to the device. The first screen that you see may or may not have a preview. If you see a screen with no preview, as seen in Figure 11-9, don’t be alarmed; the file is still there.
Figure 11-9.

Tap the file name in the Dropbox app, and the file opens in Dropbox

Tap the share icon in the top-right corner, and Dropbox opens a screen similar to what you see in Figure 11-10. You can share the file, or you can open the file in an app. Tap the Open In button to choose an app for viewing the file.
Figure 11-10.

Tap the file name in the Dropbox app, and the file opens in Dropbox

After tapping Open In, the screen changes and displays all of the apps on your device that can view the EPUB. If you want to view the file in iBooks, tap Open in iBooks, as shown in Figure 11-11, or choose another app for previewing the document. Using this method for adding EPUBs to an iOS device is much faster than using iTunes.
Figure 11-11.

Tap the app that you want to use to view the EPUB

For more information on viewing EPUB documents on devices, see Chapter  13. Adding PDF Files to Devices

You can use Dropbox to open a PDF file on a mobile device . Locate the file in the Dropbox app, and tap the down-pointing arrowhead to open a menu, as shown in Figure 11-12. In the menu, you have a number of options. The one that you want is Open With. Tap Open With, and the screen changes to display all of the PDF viewers that you have installed on your device.
Figure 11-12.

Tap the top-right icon to open a menu

A number of eBook readers support viewing PDF files, as shown in Figure 11-13. Your best option is to view PDFs in Adobe Acrobat Reader or use a third-party viewer, however, such as GoodReader. Tap the viewer you want to use, and the file opens in the target viewer.
Figure 11-13.

Tap the PDF viewer you want to use and the file opens in the viewer

If you want to open a PDF in iBooks on the iPhone or iPad, follow the same steps to open a PDF file in Dropbox, choose Open In, and select iBooks. The file opens in iBooks, and it’s added to your iBooks bookshelf.

11.5 Summary

This brief chapter discussed moving files from your computers to various devices. We looked at copying files via USB devices and Apple iTunes, and we looked at copying files to PDF viewers and eReaders.

In order to copy files, you first need a file on your hard drive to copy. In the next chapter, we begin a journey through exporting content from Adobe InDesign to various formats. Our first format covers exports to reflowable EPUBs.

Copyright information

©  Ted Padova 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ted Padova
    • 1
  1. 1.Davao CityPhilippines

Personalised recommendations