Things You Can’t Do with an iOS Device, #67: Copy Audiobooks from One Device to Another

A correspondent wrote with a question. A friend bought an audiobook from the iTunes Store on his iPad, and wanted to listen to it on his iPhone. But he doesn’t own a computer, and this actually isn’t possible. Why? Because, as Apple says:

“If you made a backup of these items on your Mac or PC, you can sync the items to your iOS device. You can’t download these items again from iTunes in the Cloud.”

I had mentioned this recently in one of my Ask the iTunes Guy columns, but I hadn’t considered the case of someone who owns two iOS devices, but no computers. If you have a computer, you can copy purchased items from one iOS device to your iTunes library. But if not, you can’t even back up the audiobook.

This is frankly a pathetic situation. Imagine if you have to restore the device; you’ll lose any audiobooks you’ve purchased.

There is software that lets you copy files from an iOS device to a computer, but, again, in this case, the person doesn’t own a computer. What I’d suggest is that they find someone with a computer who can create a user account for them. They can then sync their purchases to iTunes, and sync back from iTunes to the other device.

I’ve long recommended that people buy audiobooks from Audible, and not Apple, and this confirms that one should never buy audiobooks from Apple.

8 thoughts on “Things You Can’t Do with an iOS Device, #67: Copy Audiobooks from One Device to Another

    • No, iTunes Match doesn’t sync audiobooks in the Audiobooks library. It can sync audiobooks you’ve ripped, if they’re in the Music library, and if the files aren’t too big. But purchased audiobooks with DRM won’t get synced.

    • No, iTunes Match doesn’t sync audiobooks in the Audiobooks library. It can sync audiobooks you’ve ripped, if they’re in the Music library, and if the files aren’t too big. But purchased audiobooks with DRM won’t get synced.

  1. I prefer Audible myself, but if you are using iTunes it’s not hopeless. Assuming one’s iPad and iPhone are already associated one’s your Apple ID (see http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204074):

    1) Go to friend’s PC or Mac. Download iTunes.
    2) Use iTunes to authorize computer with your Apple ID.
    3) Back up iPad.
    4) Connect iPhone, then copy over audiobook(s).
    5) Deauthorize computer using iTunes. Delete iTunes.

    Shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes.

  2. I prefer Audible myself, but if you are using iTunes it’s not hopeless. Assuming one’s iPad and iPhone are already associated one’s your Apple ID (see http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204074):

    1) Go to friend’s PC or Mac. Download iTunes.
    2) Use iTunes to authorize computer with your Apple ID.
    3) Back up iPad.
    4) Connect iPhone, then copy over audiobook(s).
    5) Deauthorize computer using iTunes. Delete iTunes.

    Shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes.

  3. The absurdity of Apple’s policy on audiobooks is exacerbated by the fact that the first trouble shooting step of any iPhone problem is “back up your phone to iCloud, and then erase it and do a restore.” I notice that Apple’s AppleCare representatives for iPhone are not as well trained nor as knowledgeable as those for the Mac. Every single one that I have spoken to has told me that “You won’t lose anything when you do a restore. Everything will be just like it was before the restore.” If only it were true. In addition to losing the audiobooks, you lose some ringtones, any music that wasn’t downloaded through iTunes, most of your security settings, and several other things.

  4. The absurdity of Apple’s policy on audiobooks is exacerbated by the fact that the first trouble shooting step of any iPhone problem is “back up your phone to iCloud, and then erase it and do a restore.” I notice that Apple’s AppleCare representatives for iPhone are not as well trained nor as knowledgeable as those for the Mac. Every single one that I have spoken to has told me that “You won’t lose anything when you do a restore. Everything will be just like it was before the restore.” If only it were true. In addition to losing the audiobooks, you lose some ringtones, any music that wasn’t downloaded through iTunes, most of your security settings, and several other things.

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