How To Load Ebooks Onto A Kindle Or iPad

I remember the first time someone gave me an ebook. I’d agreed to beta-read the manuscript, but when it came time to transfer the file from my computer to my e-reader, I was lost. I had to Google it to find the answer! Now that I’m a published author, I load files onto my Kindle all the time to proof and review my manuscripts and beta read for others.


Image by Windell Oskay

When I began to email out beta and review copies and send ebook files as gifts and giveaways to friends and fans, I discovered that those new to reading on a Kindle or tablet often had the same question: how do you load a non-Amazon ebook file onto a Kindle or tablet?

I bet you already know how to accomplish this! But if you’re an author and regularly send ebooks to fans and contest winners, bookmark this page and include the link in the email with the ebook attachment, just in case the recipient isn’t familiar with the process. Hopefully, it’ll save you a lot of back-and-forth messaging!

How to load an ebook file onto a Kindle via email
If you own a Kindle and are presented with an ebook file that wasn’t delivered via Wi-Fi, you’ll need to know how to load that file onto your Kindle. The first and absolute easiest way to transfer the file is to email it to your Kindle as an attachment.

There are three components to this. The device’s wireless must be “on,” you must know the Kindle’s email address (every Kindle has one!), and the email address you are sending the file FROM must be pre-approved. I’ll walk you through the process below. NOTE: Your Kindle can read these ebook file formats: mobi, azw, prc, and KF8.

FIRST, find the Kindle’s email under “Settings” on the device:
Original Kindle: go to Menu > Settings > Page 2 “Send-to Kindle E-mail”
Kindle 3rd generation or keyboard: go to Menu > Settings > Page 2 “Device E-mail”
Kindle Fire: go to Menu > Settings > More > “My account”

SECOND, verify that the email address you’re sending the file from is approved:
As I mentioned above, only emails from pre-approved addresses will get through to your Kindle. Hint: the email address you used to set up your Amazon account is approved. If that email is defunct or you want to use a new one, or you don’t remember what that email address is, here’s how to check or add a new one:

  • Link here to go to the Manage Your Kindle page. (You’ll be prompted to login to your Amazon account.)
  • Go to “Your Kindle Account,” then go to “Personal Document Settings.”
  • Under “Approved Personal Document E-mail List,” click “Add a new approved e-mail address.”
  • Enter the e-mail address to approve and select “Add Address.”

You can now use the newly approved email address to send the document. Simply forward the email you received (WITH the ebook attachment) to your Kindle’s email address, or compose a new email and attach the ebook file and it will load into your documents folder (magic!)

How to transfer an ebook file to a Kindle via the USB cable
You can also connect your Kindle to your computer via the USB charging cable, then drag and drop the file into the “documents” or “ebooks” folder on your device. Here’s how:

  1. Download the ebook file attachment from the email to your computer.
  2. Disconnect the charging attachment and connect the USB cable between the Kindle and your computer.
  3. When your computer recognizes the Kindle device, click on the Kindle. Its file folders will be revealed. Find the “documents” folder, or the “ebooks” folder if your device has one.
  4. Drag and drop the ebook file into your Kindle’s documents (or ebooks) folder.
  5. Detach the cord and check your Kindle’s home page. The title may take a moment to appear.

Note: Need more help? Here’s Amazon’s tutorial: Transfer Content from a Computer to Your Kindle Fire 

How to transfer a ebook file to an iPad
If you use an iPad or tablet to read ebook files, the method is the same, with one additional step – you must have the appropriate app installed to read the file. And, the email you send from does not require Amazon’s approval. Here’s what you do:

FIRST, download the appropriate FREE e-reader app
For the iPad: if you’re reading mobi, azw, or prc files, you’ll need the Kindle for iPad app. If you’re reading  the epub format on an iPad, you’ll need to download iBooks from the App Store. Barnes & Noble has an iPad app that lets you read epub formats, as well. Once you’ve downloaded the appropriate app, you can open the emailed file.

SECOND, email the ebook file to the iPad or tablet
Just like the Kindle, the simplest way to transfer an ebook from a computer to an iPad or tablet is via email.

  1. Either forward the email you received (with the ebook file attached) to your iPad, or attach it to a new message and email the message to your iPad.
  2. Open the email message on the iPad.
  3. Tap and hold the attached file until an “Open in Kindle” or “Open in iBooks” dialog menu appears, then tap the appropriate choice.
  4. The ebook will open.

Note: This process should work for any tablet you’re using as an e-reader – simply download the correct app, email the file, tap to open the e-reader app, and read.

Readers, do you have questions, comments, or tips to add?

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Image by Creative Commons License Windell Oskay

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20 Responses to How To Load Ebooks Onto A Kindle Or iPad

  1. Anne R. Allen April 21, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    This is so useful. I remember when I got my first non-Amazon ebook. I panicked! I finally found somebody who told me about the drag and drop method with the USB cable.

    This is definitely something to bookmark and send to newbies. We were all newbies once!

    • Molly Greene April 21, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

      Thanks, Anne. I used the drag and drop method myself for a long time, but emailing is SO much faster and easier. I’m a convert now!

  2. maryam k mamou April 21, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Mollie, can you load an ebook onto a Sony book reader?

    • Molly Greene April 21, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

      I’m sure there’s a way to load an ebook onto any and all e-readers, but I have no direct experience with Sony, Nook, or Kobo. However, I just Googled it and found tons of tutorials. Try this: How to load eBooks on your Sony e-Reader.

      Readers, if you have a Kobo or Nook, Google will show you the way. 😉

  3. John Chapman April 21, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    To send a file to Kindle, Nook, Sony, iPad or Android device you can also use Calibre, an open source program from . Add the e-book file to Calibre in epub/mobi/doc/docx/html/rtf/txt/pdf format and then connect your e-reader via a USB link. It will be detected and you’ll have the option of sending the ebook to your e-reader. It’s possible to do this wirelessly too but that’s a lot more complicated to explain.

    One thing Molly didn’t mention is to disconnect the USB connection before you unplug it. e-readers, like USB memory sticks, can become corrupted if you don’t do that.

    • Molly Greene April 21, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

      Thanks, John! And I had no idea about the corruption issue. Thanks so much for the information!

  4. MM Jaye April 21, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    The first time I had to do this was with your Rapunzel 🙂 And, yes, I had to ask you how to get the file onto my Kindle. But now I prefer to email the attachment as you suggest.

    Did you know that you can attach .doc and .pdf files as well as, long as you type “convert” (no quotes) in the subject line of your mail? I accidentally found this tip while browsing a KIndle forum. Here’s the link: where you can verify it.

    I find this especially useful with beta reading, as I usually get Word documents, and there’s no way I can read an entire book looking at my computer screen. 🙂

    • Molly Greene April 22, 2014 at 8:50 am #

      MARIA!! I do believe someone told me about the “conversion” process once upon a time – but it’s like most things, if you don’t use it, you lose it. So, thank you so much for the reminder and for the links and info! If I’d tried to address all e-readers and all formats in one blog post, it would have been way too long to read – sounds like another post idea to address other e-readers and other formats. And you know I’m always trolling for blog post ideas 😉

  5. Kym Kettler-Paddock April 21, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

    Thanks for this, Molly! It is a bit of a palaver to set up, then pretty easy after that.

    The only issue I have with using non-Kindle documents on Kindle is the text size. I bought a number of books from Writers’ Digest in PDF format. As PDF files, I have to keep resizing them after every page chabge (unless I’m reading on my iPad Kindle app).

    I know that you can convert files to Kindle format by typing ‘convert’ in the email title, but then the formatting gets muddled up.

    Any suggestions for improving readability of non-Kindle format books on Kindle?

    • Molly Greene April 22, 2014 at 8:55 am #

      Thanks, Kim! yes, it seems like a chore to set up the Kindle for emailing, but it sure makes life easier once you do, and it really only takes a few minutes. As for improving readability of non-Kindle formats, it’s a great question, but I have to apologize: I do not have a clue, sorry! I’ve never tried it. Perhaps I’ll do some research and see what I can find out!

  6. joybelle2012 April 22, 2014 at 2:07 am #

    Thanks Molly, -very useful information -as always.

  7. joybelle2012 April 22, 2014 at 2:25 am #

    Hi again Molly, -is there any way I can print this useful info. Sometimes its easier to use in a printed format rather than a laptop??

    • Molly Greene April 22, 2014 at 8:56 am #

      Hi Joybelle – I’ll try to make a pdf flyer out of the post and put it up as a giveaway. Stay tuned!

      • joybelle2012 April 22, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

        Thanks Molly, I’ll keep a look out for it.
        I have the Kindle with a keyboard and previously I have sent copies of my short stories to my Kindle address found on my Amazon page and so far it has worked a treat. -But I don’t think I can edit it at all, will try to find the commands for this and let you know.

  8. Sally Jenkins April 22, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    Thanks for this, Molly – and to all the above who have left comments.
    I use the email method and send Word documents to my Kindle for proof-reading – but I’ve never typed ‘Convert’ in the subject line and don’t appear to have had any problems. Maybe the formatting will be more realistic if try the ‘Convert’ method – I’ll give it a try next time.

    • Molly Greene April 22, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

      Thanks for the info, Sally. There are so many versions of Kindle now, I wonder if some of these functions differ depending on the type of Kindle we’re using. They haven’t seemed to keep the location of the device’s email address standard on any of them, that’s for sure. Ah, progress!

  9. John Chapman April 22, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    Once again I have to say Calibre is probably the answer you are looking for. Provided a document is not protected by DRM most formats can be added to Calibre. You can then use it’s options to edit meta data, create a table of contents, and add a cover image. Clicking ‘Convert’ will then produce an ebook in epub or Kindle formats. If you want to edit the finished ebook you can do that now since an editor has been included in the package.

    • Molly Greene April 22, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

      Thank you so much, John! I need to re-visit Calibre, myself.

  10. Heather FitzGerald April 23, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    You are my hero! I just decided I was at an impasse with this issue. Not any more 🙂

    • Molly Greene April 23, 2014 at 9:15 am #

      Oh my gosh! Makes me so happy to hear I helped. Thanks for letting me know, Heather!