How To Transfer A PDF File To A Kindle

Amazon provides a seamless way to transfer Kindle book purchases to your Kindle, but what about transferring PDF files (or other documents) you may have on your computer? There are two easy ways to transfer a PDF file to a Kindle without needing any complicated conversion programs – although how good the result will look depends on the exact format of the PDF file…

Method 1 – Transfer PDF file to Kindle via USB

This is the easiest method and works for Windows, Mac and Linux:

1. Connect your Kindle to your computer via the included USB cable
2. It should appear on your computer as a removal mass storage device (like a USB flash drive) – with the next available drive letter e.g. E: drive (if hard drive is C and DVD drive is D)
3. Within the Kindle drive you should see a set of folders – simply copy and paste (or drag and drop) your PDF file into the Kindle Documents folder
4. When finished, use your computer’s undock, eject, or unmount feature to safely remove your reader (in Windows, use the ‘safely remove hardware’ icon)
5. Your PDF file should now appear on your Kindle Home screen for you to open and view

If you can read this PDF file ok then you are finished! However, if you find that the PDF file looks all wrong and is very hard to read then you will need to convert it into Kindle’s own file format to produce a better view.

First, delete this poorly formatted PDF file from your Home screen:

  1. If you are not already on your Home screen, press the “Home” button
  2. Underline the PDF file you want to remove with the 5-way controller
  3. Move the controller to the left and select “Remove from device”

Now proceed to Method 2 below.

Method 2 – Reformat your PDF file using Kindle file conversion

This time, you need to email your PDF file as an attachment and it will be reformatted for a better view. All Kindles have their own email address but, before you can send email to it, you must set up your own email account as an approved contact – using only approved contacts prevents anyone else sending spam to your Kindle’s email:

  • Visit the ‘Manage Your Kindle’ webpage and sign in to your Amazon account
  • Select “Personal Document Settings” from the left hand menu
  • Under the heading “Send-to-Kindle E-mail Address” find and make a note of your Kindle’s email address (e.g. yourname@kindle.com) – you will need this name later on
  • Under the heading “Approved Personal Document E-mail List” select “Add a new approved e-mail address”

Note: if your current email address is already listed then you do not need to add it again – skip the next step

  • Enter your own e-mail address and select “Add Address”

Now you have an approved sending email address and know your reader’s email address you can send the PDF attachment to it:

1. Create a new email and add your PDF file to it as an attachment

2. In the To: section of the email, type in your Kindle’s email address as follows:

If you have a wireless-only Kindle (i.e. no 3G connection) then use the yourname@kindle.com address you noted earlier

If you have a 3G-enabled Kindle then use the address of yourname@free.kindle.com instead – where yourname is the name you made a note of above e.g. if your Kindle’s e-mail address is John@Kindle.com, send your attachment to John@free.kindle.com – this forces a wireless connection and prevents you being charged for delivery of the converted PDF by 3G.

3. In the Subject: line of the email type the word   Convert  then send the email

The Kindle Personal Documents Service will attempt to convert the PDF file and deliver it to your device via Wi-Fi when connected – and to the e-mail address associated with the Amazon account to which the Kindle is registered (you could use this email to download the file to your computer and transfer it to your device using a USB connection as in Method 1 above).

Problems with complex PDF files

Some PDF files designed for large computer monitors are complex with multiple columns or tables. This can make them very difficult to read on the small screen of an ebook reader via either of the 2 methods above – scientific and technical PDFs are notorious for this.

If you are still unable to read your PDF file easily, even after Kindle’s conversion in Method 2, you will need to use a proper PDF conversion program to do a better job – see my review of K2pdfopt, an excellent little PDF conversion program which is easy to use and produces PDF output files optimized for e-readers like Kindle or smartphones.