How To Set Up Adobe Digital Editions Correctly To Avoid DRM Problems

Adobe Digital Editions is a program that was developed by Adobe to read ebooks and manage the transfer of ebooks between your computer and your ereader device. It works with both PDF and EPUB ebooks, and you can use it to transfer ebooks to devices such as the Nook, Sony Reader, BeBook, Cybook, and others.

I’ve been using Adobe Digital Editions since it first came out. I’ve been involved with providing tech support for this program and developing documentation on its use. I have researched and solved many of its error messages, and I have been able to compile some instructions for the best way to set it up when you first install it so that you can avoid a lot of DRM*-related problems that people commonly experience.

* DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It’s the digital security that prevents a user from passing around an eBook for free.


The authorization process that Adobe Digital Editions uses is the most important thing to learn. This is the method that the software uses to verify that you are the person who bought your ebooks, and you didn’t get them emailed to you for free from someone else. Most people will only need to do this authorization once or twice, and it doesn’t take very long.

You should authorize your copy of Adobe Digital Editions before you buy any ebooks. In fact, it’s best to authorize it right after you install it.

How To Authorize Adobe Digital Editions

1. Create an Adobe ID

The first thing you need to do is create an Adobe ID. This is the account that you’ll use to authorize Adobe Digital Editions and all of your ebooks in the future. **link provided below

2. Authorization

Once you have your Adobe ID, you can do your authorization.

a. Open Adobe Digital Editions. If you haven’t already declined the authorization prompt, you should get it now.

b. You will be prompted to enter your Adobe ID username and password. Enter that information.

c. Click “activate”

From now on, all of the ebooks you buy while under this authorization will be tied to your Adobe ID. Try not to mess this up by switching to a different Adobe ID later. That will render your ebooks unopenable.

ACSM Files

The Adobe eBook downloading process makes use of files that end in.acsm. That stands for Adobe Content Server Manager. This is one of the things that causes a lot of confusion for people.

This file is what you initially download when you start an eBook download. It acts as a “transfer file”, managing the communication between the download server and Adobe’s servers. My understanding is that it verifies your Adobe ID and then starts the eBook download process.

The majority of the time you won’t even see this file or have to interact with it. If everything goes smoothly, it will do its job in the background and begin your eBook download for you.

If you don’t have Adobe Digital Editions installed, your computer won’t know what to do with this file. People often complain that they got a small file ending in.acsm but they didn’t get the book they bought. That’s because they didn’t follow posted instructions for downloading Adobe Digital Editions and authorizing it before they tried to download their ebook.

How To Read Your Adobe eBooks On Another Computer

This gives some people a lot of trouble. It seems like you’d be able to transfer an Adobe eBook via a thumb drive, flash drive, CD, or over your home network, but that doesn’t work. When you try to open the eBook on the second computer, you will likely get an authorization error message, telling you that the eBook was authorized to another user.

All you have to do is download the eBook to your second computer the exact same way you downloaded it the first time (if you did it properly). You should install Adobe Digital Editions on the second computer and authorize it with your Adobe ID (the same one you used before!). Then, login to your account at the website where you bought the ebook, and download it directly to the computer where you want to read the ebook.

How To Transfer eBooks To Your eReader Device

If you’ve purchased an eBook that requires the use of Adobe Digital Editions, then you must use Adobe Digital Editions to manage the transfer of the eBook from your computer to your reading device. This is because of the same authorization issues that we’ve discussed above — Adobe wants to verify you own both the eBook and the reading device, and it does that via the authorization process.

The first thing to do is make sure that you’ve authorized Adobe Digital Editions with your Adobe ID account, as explained previously. You will have to authorize your device with the same Adobe ID.

Connect the e-reading device to your computer with its USB cable, and turn it on. Adobe Digital Editions should detect the device and prompt you to authorize it with your Adobe ID account. After that, the name of your device will appear on the left side of Adobe Digital Editions in the “bookshelves” area. Again, make sure to use the same Adobe ID that you used before.

Now all you have to do is drag an eBook from the Adobe Digital Editions library to the device name.

Problems Averted!

Adobe Digital Editions can be very easy to use as long as you authorize it before you start buying and using ebooks. As outlined in the first part of this article, the most important thing to do is to authorize Adobe Digital Editions immediately after you install it. Secondly, make sure to always use the same Adobe ID when downloading your ebooks to a second computer or an e-reading device. Following these steps will protect you from 95% of all problems and error messages, and you’ll have a stress-free eBook reading experience.

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