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View Doc/PDF locally on iPhone

Before continue to talk about my trip to Greece, I definitely need to share with you a way to read Microsoft Office Doc and Adobe PDF without WiFi / Edge / 3G connection. You know, iPhone comes with the ability to read Word/Excel and PDF, but only when the files are come from E-mail attachment or located on the web. So, is there any easy way/hack to view the files locally?

Send Yourself a Email

The most straightforward way is to send yourself a email with the Doc/Excel/PDF attachment and read it on iPhone. The next time you read the attachment, it’s loaded from iPhone locally, even without any network connection. It’s easy. No hack, no special tools to install. However, there is a limit of the number of emails that iPhone can cache. As you get more emails, you may lose that cached copy of attachment. It’s not a permanent solution.

Filemark Maker (for Mac Only)

Another way to read Doc/Excel/PDF offline is to use Filemark Maker, which only works on Mac platform. Filemark Maker converts the Doc file into a data URL and lets your view it in Safari browser via a bookmark.

You can download Filemark Maker here. Filemark Maker is very easy to use. You can just drag your word or PDF document onto Filemark Maker icon. It will then automatically launch Safari. Follow the instructions and bookmark the document URL. Then sync your Safari bookmarks to your iPhone.

Filemark Maker

That’s it! And you can view the document by clicking on the bookmark on iPhone (inside Safari).

View PDF in iPhone Safari

View PDF in iPhone Safari

PDF Viewer (for PDF file only)

The third way is to use PDF viewer. But this approach is less user-friendly that requires you to have some knowledge on using SSH. I assume you already have your unlocked iPhone. PDF Viewer can be found on Installer. All PDF files are assumed to be stored under /var/root/Media/PDF. You have to transfer the PDF files via SCP.

iPhone PDF Viewer

If you’re using iPhone firmware 2.0, you now have another option. And, it is considered the easiest way to view doc/pdf (as well as, powerpoint, excel and other types of files) on iPhone. Go ahead and check out the post about Air Sharing!

About Simon Ng

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18 Responses to View Doc/PDF locally on iPhone

  1. Vicki September 24, 2008 at 7:59 am #

    Thanks, this was great and exactly what I wanted to know.

  2. Jeff Rodgers October 2, 2008 at 5:41 am #

    Want to sync PDFs from your FTP server to your iPhone?

    Check out FileSync:


  3. damon December 10, 2008 at 4:16 pm #

    You can convert pdf’s to jpegs in acrobat pro and then just put them on your iphone as pictures…

  4. Simon Ng December 15, 2008 at 12:54 am #

    Damon, I suggest to check out Air Sharing or Discover on App Store. They are great applications to let you view PDF/Doc/Excel/PPT on iPhone.

  5. G tolentino December 15, 2008 at 10:40 am #

    I can’t seem to find the on installer? I can’t find it either on Cydia….where do I get it or rather, how do I find it?

  6. Simon Ng December 15, 2008 at 11:15 am #

    G tolentino, PDF Viewer can only be found on old version of Installer. So, I suggest you to download Air Sharing, Discover from App Store. Or you can use “DOCS” from Cydia to read PDF.

  7. Aaron January 7, 2009 at 12:45 am #


    I recommend FileSync from Jeff-Net. You can view PDFs, PPTs, XLSs, and DOCs. Works great and it has email support, too, to mail files from your iPhone to other users.

  8. Nick March 9, 2009 at 12:00 am #

    Thanks for some great info! I am almost there ~ I scp’d a pdf file from my mac to iphone under /var/mobile/Media/EBooks ~ but now… how do I get Stanza to open it? :\

  9. eric April 26, 2009 at 9:25 pm #

    thanks for straight forward explanations. But how to view PDF’s if they are too big to mail or if you do not have Mac? I have airshare but dont know how to get the PDF from my PC onto my iphone. Why cant i connect with cable to my PC and then drag and drop PDF file on my iphone. I dont know how to use Wi-Fi. thanks in advance.

  10. Simon Ng April 26, 2009 at 10:36 pm #

    @eric, you can checkout this post about how to use Air Sharing.

  11. Damon May 8, 2009 at 1:50 am #

    Thanks Simon NG

    I did try out airshare and do like it. I have also recently Jailbroken miphone, and ssh’ing is great to do all kinds of stuff.


  12. cody taylor May 16, 2009 at 11:24 am #

    I’ve tried everything mentioned above to try and make my iphone a great ebook reader primarily for the giant folder of pdfs that I have but most fell a little short of what I wanted. I finally settled on reading local pdfs with Safari which I uploaded to the iphone using SCP. I didn’t have time for all the URI stuff and emailing due to the large amount of reading. Check out my tutorial here :

  13. Chad Warren July 5, 2009 at 3:53 am #

    Thanks for sharing this information. I wanted to read a pdf ebook on my iphone and found the email to yourself method sufficient for my purposes.

  14. jim September 11, 2009 at 5:14 am #

    hi folks…came across this post and thought some people might be interested in our Aji Reader / Aji Annotate apps, which are perfect for handling large PDF libraries for offline reading — similar to Air Sharing, but much better PDF reading features. check out our youtube vids at:

  15. jan frydendal September 16, 2009 at 5:06 pm #

    ftpdisc (also in a free lite version) can be used to download PDF files to the iPhone. Later you can view these file offline.

  16. james February 4, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    Reading PDF’s on iPhone is a nightmare because the PDf does not reflow the text so you have to scroll right and then left for EACH line of text in the PDF. Is there any way to get the iPhone to replow text without scrolling using the native PDF reader? Alternatively is there any way to create a PDF with the page size set for iPhone reading in Landscape mode – so user does not have to scroll right then left for each line of text in PDF?


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