There are so many ways and apps you can use to open/read .PDF files on Android – only their features and interface differ – so I’m going to show you how I sideload .PDF to my Android phone and you can decide if you like the process.
If you are immediately intimidated by the length of this tutorial, please scroll down to “In conclusion” and read that. MOST of this is a one time deal, never to require repeating. Believe me, it’s worth it.
Step One – On PC: Creating a Dropbox account
This process requires a Dropbox account, but if you have SugarSync or Box.net or any other application that will allow you to access remote files on your Android device then you should be good. If you already have this setup on your Android device, skip to Step Three.
Alright, glad you’re still here with me. First things first, we need to get you a Dropbox account. Dropbox is basically a software that grants you some web storage and has a client for your PC/Phone and Tablet which will allow you to put a file in once place and access it everywhere. Cloud storage can be awesome, yes?
So go sign up for a Dropbox account via this link: http://db.tt/orat4UXk
Note: This is a referral link but you and I will both benefit from it. We both get extra storage. It’s not a monetary thing.
It will walk you through the process of the sign up and installation of the desktop client. I highly recommend the desktop client piece, it will make future book sideloading a breeze.
Step Two – On Android: Install Dropbox
This is really just as easy as going to the Play Store and downloading the free app. [ Link here ]
Launch the app and login with your Dropbox credential. Things will be a little bare but we’ll remedy that soon enough.
Step Three – On PC: Place the .PDF file in Dropbox
If you installed the Dropbox desktop client, you now have a folder on your computer called Dropbox. If you can’t find it, you can right click on the Dropbox icon in the bottom right hand corner of your screen next to the clock.
Next step is to move the .PDF file that you want to sideload to the Dropbox folder. I’m going to move a book called Arena Mode by Blake Northcott over. Since I helped fund the project via Kickstarter, I got DRM-free copies of her new book in multiple formats.
I created a folder in Dropbox called aBookTutorial, but you can call it whatever you want or skip folders all together. It’s up to you. I created a folder and store my ebooks there. I downloaded the PDF file (and other formats) from her website via the link I was sent. You could have gotten the .PDF file from download or maybe from an email. It doesn’t really matter how you got the file, drop it into your Dropbox folder. Wherever you want to.
Here is what my folder looks like on my desktop
Dropbox will then shoot those files up into the cloud. It may take a few minutes (or longer, if your book is particularly large.)
Step 4 – On Android: Confirm File Sync in Dropbox
Now we’re going to confirm that our files are syncing up. If you see the folders and files you’ve created, then you are good. We’ll move onto Step 5. Below is what my Android device looks like after I performed Step 3 above.
After I’ve logged into my Dropbox app, I see this
When I click into it I see this
Step 5 – On Android: See if you already have a PDF reader installed
There are probably countless PDF Readers in the Play Store. Chances are you probably have one already installed. My phone came preloaded with a free version of “QuickOffice” that will open PDFs. I also have the Kindle app that reads them. So how do you know if you have an app already installed that reads PDFs? Just look in your Dropbox folder and click on that .PDF file you moved over. Android should either automatically open it, or give you a list of applications that support PDF loading. Here is what it looked like on my Android device when I attempted to open a PDF.
Before I show you the image, I want you to notice something specific. There are three apps that are identified as handling PDF files. When you select an app, two more buttons are going to un-grey and become clickable “Always” and “Just once.” If you don’t know which of the apps you prefer PLEASE press Just once.
The PDF will open in the application of your choice. IF the app just opened, you may have already clicked “Always” once before. OR you may have only a single app available to open PDF files.
If, by chance, you don’t have an application installed that reads PDFs, I have personal experience with Aldiko, Kindle and my personal favorite for PDF handling ezPDF Reader [ here ]. Adobe, parent of the PDF, also has a free PDF reader so don’t feel compelled to spend money on an application if you don’t see anything wrong with a free option like Kindle or Aldiko.
If you aren’t familiar with Dropbox or cloud storage in general you may be looking at this tutorial and thinking ‘there is no way I am going to do that everytime’ but the work is already done. From now on all you have to do is copy your PDF file into the Dropbox folder of your choice, wait for it to show up in the Dropbox app on your Android device, tap the file and enjoy. In a nutshell, you do Step 3 and Step 5. That’s it. Easy-peasy. You got this.
Optional Final Step
If this helped you, please consider making a donation for my efforts in bringing you this tutorial. In total, I spent just shy of an hour in writing, image generation and editing.
If not PayPal, I sure wouldn’t hate a Kindle Gift Card. If you’d rather gift a book so that I don’t use that gift card on coffee or electronics, here is a link to my Amazon Gift Registry. Ignore the big ticket items, this is also where I keep my Christmas/Birthday wishlist. =)