The complete guide to PDFs in iTunes

Computers & Mobile
The complete guide to PDFs in iTunes

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There are a small but growing number of PDFs appearing in iTunes, users can subscribe to podcasts to automatically receive audio and video – and recently – PDFs. At MAKE & CRAFT we have experimented with this from the start – we have also cataloged all the podcasts that send out PDFs we could find here. Eventually I think phones (including the iPhone) will be able to read PDFs via this method, perhaps a future iPod making it possible to easily distribute ebooks to these devices. For now, you can use a Mac, PC or even a Sony reader to sync to iTunes (using a hack) and read PDFs directly. Any RSS reader that supports enclosures should download the PDFs as well, the RSS 2.0 feed is listed with each podcast. Last up, Amazon is said to be working on a wireless ebook reader, using e-ink like the Sony reader, but with an internet connection. It’s a good time to start thinking about this if you do anything with PDFs.

Here they are – please feel free to post in the comments if we missed one.

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CRAFT magazine. Prior to launch and now each week at CRAFT we send out a sewing pattern, jewelry pattern, stencil, how-to or something from the pages of CRAFT. And starting very soon, we’ll include some great origami each week to automatically receive as well.

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FADER magazine is an awesome print, web and PDF magazine that is also distributed via iTunes. Each page is hot-linked so you can click the advertisements and/or extra information. The design and content are tops, they also have music from each issue that’s part of the podcast.

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French Pod Class uses PDFs & audio for French language lessons. Excellent use of podcasting multiple file types for learning.

  • Frenchie Productions – FrenchPodClass – Link.
  • On iTunes – Link.
  • RSS 2.0 – Link.

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Kasper Hauser distributes funny PDFs that go along with their audio shows and their book SkyMaul.

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MAKE magazine, starting the day iTunes supported PDFs we’ve always had PDFs from MAKE in iTunes and sending out over RSS. We send out articles, stencils, how-tos and pages from MAKE. Each week we do a video podcast (Weekend project) and deliver a PDF along with it. At the end of 2006 we released a 3D PDF with Alibre design of a potato cannon and a paper craft turkey. The user can explore the objects, zoom in, rotate and “explode” them. In 2007 we’re going to deliver more PDFs as well as files for 3D printers and laser cutters to create physical objects.

  • MAKE magazine – Link.
  • On iTunes – Link.
  • RSS 2.0 – Link.

  • Img M562

  • Rick Steves audio tours for travelers are not only enhanced podcasts (photo slide shows with audio) but they have maps of the area you might be visiting. Enhanced podcasts only play on Mac/PC with iTunes/QuickTime and/or iPods.
  • Rick Steves audio tours – Link.
  • On iTunes – Link.
  • RSS 2.0 – (I can’t find it, any idea?)

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Slate Audio Tours. Listen along and read audio tours of museums, unfortunately all the content is from 5/31/06 and there are only 4. But, if there’s interest maybe they’ll start back up.

Both Rick Steves and Slate are great for loading up your iPod/player – printing out a map from the PDF and listening as you walk about.

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Times Online UK Sudoku & puzzle podcast has Su Doku, Battleship, Crosswords, kids games and more – All in PDF format, delivered automatically. At this time there are around 20 with the last one being published 12/25/06.

  • Su Doku The Times Times Online – Link.
  • On iTunes – Link.
  • RSS 2.0 – Link.

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Wikinews. “Print” edition of daily news in PDF format automatically created and generated each day. The PDFs at this time aren’t updating past November but the PDFs are available, so there seems to be something wrong. I’m going to email them, regardless – check it out it’s a neat idea, a daily newspaper sent to your iTunes/RSS reader/eBook reader.

Here’s an OPML file (a list of RSS feeds) with all the feeds available.


  • Podcasting and Rich Media PDF’s – Link.
  • Crafty Geeks Launch Sewing 2.0 – Link.
  • Newspapers in PDF Format Catching On – Link.

A little extra note, ideally there would be a supported open format for documents -and- it would be sync’able with something like iTunes. MP3 and MP4 are pretty common formats and play on just about anything, those are the formats you see as podcasts and in iTunes but those aren’t “open” either – we also do not have an enhanced podcast format that works outside of iTunes, QuickTime and iPods… surely everyone could agree on an XML file, JPGs and a MP3 and go from there, SMIL-like. Ok, discuss in the comments.

14 thoughts on “The complete guide to PDFs in iTunes

  1. geekroller says:

    Please consider adding “One” magazine to your list of print Magazines available via iTunes in PDF format.

  2. skabdude says:

    ~cool! I wonder if there’s a way for people to kinda wiki-edit those pdf’s so that they can be more dynamic. Maybe being able to add comments like I am right now.

  3. macdaddy07 says:

    don’t forget growfolio magazine – “the online business magazine for the under 30 crowd”

    growfolio magazine –Link
    On iTunes – Link
    RSS 2.0 –Link

  4. philliptorrone says:

    a little update for my own notes, adobe’s tracker can do “PDFcasting”

  5. philliptorrone says:

    note to me, more here:

    “A search on iTunes for PDF’s turns up many more offerings, including copies of Podcast User magazine, Kostenloser’s guides, and BMW Group Investor Relations.”

    i shoulda said “never will be complete” :)

  6. valstevenson says:
    ‘Babylon burning’ is an anthology of poetry marking the fifth anniversary of 9/11 and is in aid of the Red Cross – it’s free but with a request for donations. It’s also available as a POD book from with all profits going to the Red Cross.

  7. jackfusion says:

    How do u read the pdf’s on ur ipod that u download from itunes?

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