How To Recover PDF Files on an iOS Device

Losing PDF files on your iPhone or iPad can be a frustrating experience, especially when the documents contain important information or cherished memories. Whether it’s due to accidental deletion, an update gone wrong, or simple file corruption, it’s essential to learn how to recover lost PDF files on your iOS device.

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Step 1: Download and Install UltData

Step 2: Connect Your iOS Device using a USB cable.

Step 3: Trust Your Computer If a prompt message appears.

Step 4: Launch UltData and follow the instructions.

Compatible with various Apple devices like the iPad, iPhone 14, 13, 12, 11, XS, XR, S, 8, 7, 6, 5s, and 5

In this article, we will discuss various methods to help you retrieve lost or deleted PDF files on your iPhone and iPad. By understanding why these files go missing and knowing how to recover them, you can save yourself time and stress in the long run.

Reasons for Losing PDF Files on iOS Devices

There are several reasons for losing PDF files on your iPhone or iPad. Understanding these reasons is the first step towards effectively recovering them. Some common causes of losing PDF files on iOS devices include:

Accidental Deletion

It’s easy to accidentally delete a file while managing storage space, selecting multiple items, or organizing your device.

iOS Updates

Sometimes, software updates might result in some files being lost or misplaced during the upgrade process.

Restoring to Factory Settings

When restoring an iOS device to factory settings for troubleshooting purposes or getting rid of outdated data, you might inadvertently lose some important PDF files in the process.

Syncing with iTunes Errors

Errors during syncing with iTunes can occasionally lead to the loss of files such as recorded voice notes and PDF documents.

Damage to the Device or File Corruption

Physical damage (such as water damage) or software corruption could result in losing not only PDF documents but other data types as well.

Methods to Recover Deleted PDF Files on iPhone and iPad

If you’ve accidentally lost an important PDF file on your iPhone or iPad, don’t despair! There are several methods available that can help you retrieve these lost documents quickly and easily.

Method 1: Restart Your iOS Device and Access iBooks

Rebooting your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch might be the simplest solution for restoring PDF files that have gone missing. Some users have found their documents by following these steps:

  1. Restart your device by either turning it off and on again or initiating a hard reset.
  2. Unlock your device and launch the iBooks app.
  3. Click on “Collections” situated near the top center of the screen.
  4. Here, you may find your lost PDF files under the “PDFs” category.

Method 2: Use Sync Collections Feature

The Sync Collections feature is available on iOS devices to keep PDFs and non-iBooks Store books in sync across all your devices. Enabling this feature could help recover lost files from other Apple devices.

Follow these steps to enable Sync Collections:

  1. Go to your device’s “Settings” menu.
  2. Scroll down and tap on “iBooks” (on older iOS versions) or “Books” (on newer iOS versions).
  3. Turn on “Sync Collections.”

After enabling Sync Collections, you may find that lost PDF files from one device are available on another device connected to the same Apple ID.

Method 3: Recover from iPad by Syncing with Another iOS Device

In some cases, you might have synchronized PDF files between an iPhone and an iPad using iCloud Drive or other syncing services. If so, you could potentially recover missing PDF files by connecting these devices.

  1. Ensure that both devices are signed in using the same Apple ID.
  2. Enable Sync Collections on both devices by following the steps mentioned in Method 2 (above).
  3. Allow some time for syncing processes to occur between the two devices. This might take a few minutes to several hours, depending on file size and network speed.

After completing these steps, check if the missing PDF files have been transferred from one device to another.

Recovering PDF Files from iTunes or iCloud Backup

If you have backed up your iPhone or iPad using iTunes or iCloud, you may be able to recover lost PDF files from these backups. Here’s how to do that:

iTunes Backup Recovery

You can use a program called Decipher Backup Browser to view and restore PDF files from iPhone and iPad backups stored in iTunes. Here’s a step-by-step guide for recovering lost files using this software:

  1. Download and install Decipher Backup Browser on your Windows or Mac computer.
  2. Launch the program and select the iOS device backup you want to recover from the list displayed.
  3. In the left sidebar, click on “PDF Files” to view all PDF documents available in the selected backup.
  4. Select the lost PDF files you want to recover and save them to your computer by clicking on the “Recover” button.

iCloud Backup Recovery

You can also retrieve lost PDF files stored in iCloud using the following steps:

  1. Open a web browser and visit
  2. Sign in with your Apple ID associated with the affected iOS device.
  3. Click on the iCloud Drive icon.
  4. Browse through all folders under Files, locate your missing PDF files, and download them back onto your device.

Additional Tips and Tricks for iOS Data Recovery

To stay proactive about data loss prevention, consider some of these helpful tips:

  • Regularly back up your iOS devices through iTunes or iCloud.
  • Explore third-party iOS data recovery software tools for additional recovery options.
  • Save vital documents such as bank statements, work-related files, or crucial PDFs using cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive.

Losing important PDF files on your iPhone or iPad is a frustrating experience, but there are several methods available for recovery. By understanding why these files go missing and employing various techniques, such as rebooting your device, enabling Sync Collections, and recovering files from backups, you can save yourself time and stress.

Data safety is essential, so always make sure to back up your devices regularly and store critical documents safely in the cloud or other storage platforms. Following these best practices will help ensure that you never have to worry about losing essential PDF files again.

While our focus is on recovering PDF files on iOS devices, it’s important to note that screen sharing FaceTime can be a helpful tool for remotely guiding someone through the process of recovering their lost documents.


  1. Can I recover a PDF file that I accidentally deleted from my iPhone or iPad?

    Yes, you can recover a deleted PDF file using different methods. Some of these include restarting your device and checking the iBooks app, enabling the Sync Collections feature to recover files from another iOS device, or restoring lost PDF files from iTunes or iCloud backups.

  2. Why did my PDF files disappear from my iOS device after an update?

    Sometimes, a software update might cause data loss during the upgrade process. This could result in missing or misplaced PDF files on your iPhone or iPad. Using one of the recovery methods mentioned earlier, you may be able to restore these lost documents.

  3. Can PDF files be recovered without a previous backup?

    Yes, you can try restarting your iOS device and accessing the iBooks app as described in Method 1 or using Sync Collections to retrieve lost PDFs from another iOS device as outlined in Method 2. However, having a backup via iTunes or iCloud increases your chances of recovering important documents.

  4. Can I restore specific PDF files from an iCloud backup without restoring my entire device?

    Yes, you can restore specific PDF files by visiting on a web browser, logging in with your Apple ID, and clicking on the iCloud Drive icon. Then, browse through folders, locate the missing PDF files, and download them back onto your device.

  5. Are third-party data recovery applications safe to recover lost PDF files on iOS devices?

    While various third-party data recovery tools are available for iOS devices, choosing reliable and reputable software is crucial. Read reviews and research beforehand to ensure that your chosen application is trustworthy and safe. Always exercise caution and create backups before using third-party software to minimize potential risks.