Cloud Sync

You can sync the contents of Bookends for iOS with the cloud, from where they can sync with other iOS devices or with Bookends for Mac. Libraries can also be shared between Bookends users (requires iOS 15 or later).


Managing personal sync

Often you will already have a Bookends for macOS library that you want to sync with your iOS device. In this case, make sure it has been uploaded to the cloud before setting up Bookends for iOS sync. To do this, on your Mac click on the Bookends cloud icon at the lower left corner of the window and select “Upload This Library To Cloud…"

You can also initiate Cloud Sync in Bookends for iOS by tapping on the top right button ("…”) or tapping “Sync” under the “Bookends” section on the main screen.

After the first successful sync the library will be synced automatically every time the app is launched and closed. In addition, you can sync manually any time by tapping the … button and selecting Sync Now.

After every successful sync of references, Bookends will begin syncing attached files, usually PDFs.

Sync of attachments requires that you use iCloud Drive. All files must be located in the iCloud Drive → Bookends folder. Note that if on the Mac you store your attachments outside of the Bookends iCloud sync folder, for example in a Dropbox folder, Bookends for iOS won’t be able to see them. Therefore, if you intend to sync with Bookends for Mac you must enable iCloud Drive on your Mac in System Preferences.

To create the Bookends sync folder in iCloud, you must perform a few extra steps. You only need to do this once, using either Bookends for iOS or Bookends for Mac.

Bookends for iOS:

Bookends for macOS:

The folder will have the Bookends logo:

Important note: Do NOT create the iCloud Drive Bookends folder in the Finder yourself. If you do it will not have the Bookends icon and it will not be recognized by Bookends for iOS. You must let Bookends create the folder for you as described above.

If you have pre-existing attachments on the Mac, you must go to the Finder and move them from their current location to the Bookends iCloud sync folder (the one with the Bookends icon).

if you are syncing with a Mac, attachments must be actually present on the HD or SSD, Bookends can't find them if they are stored only in the cloud. Therefore if you have Optimize Mac Storage turned on in iCloud Drive options you may find some PDFs cannot be found because they have been uploaded. For Bookends to use them they must be downloaded in the Finder by clicking on the small downward arrow next to their icons. As of version 13.4.2, Bookends will try to do this for you automatically.

Bookends for iOS will download files from iCloud Drive → Bookends folder only if they are 50 MB or smaller.

As files are downloaded in the background by iOS, it may take some time until you see the attachments in Bookends for iOS.

Note that smart groups on the Mac will not sync with Bookends for iOS and vice versa. The search capabilities are far more extensive on the Mac and can’t be duplicated in Bookends for iOS.


Initiate sharing

Sharing libraries on your mobile devices requires iOS/iPadOS 15 or later and Bookends 3.7 or later. On the Mac you must be using macOS 11 (Big Sur) or later and Bookends 14.0.5 or later. Bookends Cloud Sharing consists of two parts: sharing references and sharing attachments. Bookends takes care of the references via Apple Services (CloudKit). Attachment sync uses cloud file sharing services like iCloud Drive or Dropbox, which is discussed below. To share attachments with Bookends for iOS you must use iCloud Drive.

The person who shares a library is the "owner", and those with whom the library is shared are "participants". Library sharing can be initiated in Bookends for Mac or Bookends for iOS. Instructions on how to initiate sharing in Bookends Mac are covered in the Bookends Mac User Guide and this video tutorial:

To initiate sharing in Bookends for iOS, tap Share Library and send invitations to those you want to participate.

Your invitation must be sent to the email address associated with the participant's Apple ID.

To add or remove participants, or stop sharing your library, tap Share Library again, and you'll see something like this.

To share the attachments folder, use the and navigate to the Bookends folder on iCloud Drive → the library attachments subfolder

With a long-press on the folder reveal the contextual menu to Share, then in the list of actions chose "Share Folder in iCloud".

Accept a share request

When you are invited to share a library, you will receive a link and, optionally a URL for the shared attachments folder in a separate invitation

This is an example of how a shared link might look:

Clicking on the link will open Bookends and the library's references will be downloaded to your device. After a successful sync you will see this warning/reminder that to also sync attachments you must set up the attachment subfolder (a separate folder for each library you share). If you are not interested in sharing attachments or will set up it later, just click the “Not Now” option.

Remember, the owner creates the shared attachment folder and must invite you. If you have accepted, you will have the URL of that folder.

Tapping “Set Shared Attachment Folder” will show you what is necessary for setting up the attachment folder.

Set a library attachment subfolder

Tap the Library Subfolder button to begin the process. If you want to do it later, you can initiate it in Settings, in the Local Library section.

Here you can select the subfolder for attachments, which must be located inside of Bookends iCloud Drive folder. You can move the folder with the If that folder already has attachments in associated with your local library, the Move button will move them to the new subfolder.

Note that when you tap the Sync options icon (the small gear next to Sync), you will have these options.


Sometimes the Bookends sync folder will not appear in the Mac iCloud Drive even after completing the above steps. You may be able to fix this by taking these steps:

  1. Turn off iCloud Drive in iOS Settings.

  2. Close Settings.

  3. Open Settings and turn iCloud Drive on.

  4. Let Bookends sync.