ACSM files (files that end with .acsm) often cause confusion for those who are unfamiliar with them. This post will tell you what you need to do to open them.
- ASCM files are part of Adobe’s eBook DRM.
- ACSM files are not supposed to be the full eBook. They are small files that manage the download of the eBook.
- ACSM files are made to be opened with Adobe Digital Editions. This is a free program from Adobe that was created for their eBook DRM. Get it here.
- To open an ACSM file, simply double-click it, and it should open in Adobe Digital Editions if you have that program installed.
- Opening the ACSM file in Adobe Digital Editions will allow it to continue your eBook download. When it’s finished you’ll have a PDF or ePub file.
If you’re downloading an .acsm file, it’s probably an eBook with DRM, so you should also make sure that Adobe Digital Editions is properly authorized. I have a post that explains this process for you. Authorizing your copy of Adobe Digital Editions with an Adobe ID will allow you to use your eBook on more than one computer as well as your mobile devices that support Adobe’s DRM.
ACSM files on iOS, Android, or eReaders
Sometimes people will try to download a DRM-protected PDF or ePub directly to their iPhone/iPad/eReader/Android device. That won’t work because the .acsm file can’t be opened in any apps on those devices. The eBook must be downloaded to your computer first, through Adobe Digital Editions. There is no version of Adobe Digital Editions for iOS, Android, or eReaders. After you’ve downloaded the ebook to your computer, you can then transfer it to your device.
Convert .acsm to PDF?
Often when people are unfamiliar with .acsm files they think they should convert the file to a PDF. This is not possible, and it arises from the mistaken assumption that the .acsm file is the eBook and they’ve somehow downloaded a weird file type. If you have an .acsm file, the only thing you can do is open it with Adobe Digital Editions. That will continue the eBook download process, and once that’s finished, you’ll have your PDF/ePub file.
It’s easy for your computer’s file associations to get messed up when you try to open a file in the wrong program. If you’ve downloaded an .acsm file and you tried to open it in, for example, Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat, you might have checked the little box that says “Always open files of this type in this program”. If you did that, you’ve screwed up your file associations and .acsm files will always try to open themselves in the wrong program.
To fix this, you’ll need to edit your file associations. Instructions on now to change file associations on a Mac | Instructions on now to change file associations on Windows Vista & 7
How To Open ACSM Files
There are always three ways to open a file on your computer:
1. Double-click it. It will open in the program that your computer has associated with that file type. See above if you’ve associated .acsm files with the wrong program.
2. Right-click it. Right-click the file, go to “Open With”, and choose Adobe Digital Editions.
3. Open manually from inside the program. Open Adobe Digital Editions. In the upper left area, find LIBRARY. Click the downward arrow next to Library, and click on “Open”. Find the file on your computer. It should be in a folder called My Digital Editions, which is in the main Documents folder.
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I have recently noticed a new frequently asked question. This is something that’s been asked on this blog and I’ve also gotten this question from people who buy ebooks. Like the title of this post, the question goes something like: “I can’t install Adobe Digital Editions on my device!” You can replace “device” for whatever device the particular person is using, such as their iPad / iPhone / Android phone / Android tablet / eReader / Nook / Sony Reader / Kobo etc. The saddest thing about this is that these people tend to throw up their hands and give up once they discover this seemingly insurmountable problem.
So here’s the good news: You do not have to install Adobe Digital Editions on your device. It’s not made for that. You’re only supposed to use Adobe Digital Editions to download your ebooks to your computer. There is no version of Adobe Digital Editions that is intended to be installed on a device.
After you download the ebook, you can transfer it to your device. For some devices, like e-Ink eReaders, you can use Adobe Digital Editions for the transfer. When you plug the device into your computer, ADE will recognize it and you’ll get an icon in the lower-left area of the screen. Then you can drag an eBook from the ADE library to that device icon. For other devices, you don’t even need to use ADE for the transfer. For example, if you want to use the ebook on your iOS device, you should follow my Bluefire Reader instructions. And if you want to use the ebook on an Android device, you should follow my Aldiko instructions.
Adobe Digital Editions is a free program created by Adobe for use with PDF and EPUB ebooks that are protected by Adobe’s DRM. Part of my work involves providing some technical support for users who encounter errors from this program. Since I don’t work directly for Adobe, I’ve had to develop my own solutions to these errors.
This particular error is frustrating for ebook users because the error doesn’t give any hints as to what the problem actually is. The full text of error message is similar to this (depending on your computer):
IOError on local file open
(this varies depending on the folder names in your computer)
— end —
Over time I’ve been able to identify three possible solutions to this error. Sometimes none of these three will solve it for a user, but these options take care of the majority of cases.
A) The ebook has been removed from your “My Digital Editions” folder.
Note: Only take this action if you’re able to re-download the ebook from the store where you bought it. If you’re not sure, login to your account at that store to see if you have additional downloads available for the ebook. If that is not shown, contact them to find out.
1. Delete the ebook from the Library. This will remove the bad file path that Adobe Digital Editions is using to look for the ebook.
In Adobe Digital Editions, make sure you are in the Library view. To make sure that you are, click the Library button that looks like three books. This is in the top-left area of the screen.
Next, click the ebook that you need to delete. You should see a small arrow appear next to it. Click that arrow, and then click Delete.
2. Re-download the ebook from the website where you bought it.
B) Non-English characters.
Adobe Digital Editions will sometimes not function correctly if your main hard drive name or other similar folders have non-English characters. If you remove those characters, the program should behave normally. I recommend checking both filenames and the “name” of the hard drive or computer, such as “Bob’s Computer”.
C) Adobe Digital Editions need to be reinstalled.
Sometimes Adobe Digital Editions just needs to be reinstalled. First uninstall it from your computer. Then, install it again from Adobe’s website.
I hope this information has been helpful for you. This program functions normally the majority of the time, but any software can have intermittent trouble.
ACSM files are a source of much confusion for people who buy ebooks that are protected with Adobe DRM. I’m going to go over a few of the most frequently asked questions about these files, and I hope it will clear up the mystery for everyone.
What is an .acsm file?
ACSM stands for Adobe Content Server Manager. That name gives a clue as to the purpose of these files — they are download manager files. They manage the download of your ebook.
The majority of the time, you don’t even see the .acsm file when you download an Adobe ebook. Usually the only time you see it is if you haven’t properly set up Adobe Digital Editions, or you don’t even have it installed. I can’t stress this enough: before you buy Adobe ebooks, whether PDF or EPUB, install the software you need! If you haven’t installed the correct software for any file type, your computer won’t know what to do with it.
If you do have Adobe Digital Editions installed and authorized correctly, then you won’t even see the .acsm file at all. It will do its job in the background of your ebook download. The purpose of this file is to communicate with Adobe’s content server and register the ebook to the Adobe ID that you have used to authorize ADE. If you don’t know how to do the authorization process, read my post about it.
What is the purpose of associating an ebook with your Adobe ID? That is how Adobe’s DRM system allows you to use your ebooks on more than one computer or device. If you authorize Adobe Digital Editions with the same Adobe ID on each computer/device, it will let you download the ebook to each of those locations.
This might be a pain sometimes, but it is what we have to live with, at least for now.
How to convert .acsm to .pdf?
You don’t have to convert the .acsm file to another file format at all. That would be quite impossible. This question is based on the mis-assumption that the .acsm file is the ebook. It is not. Let me make that clear: the .acsm file is NOT supposed to be the ebook. It is just a little file that manages the download of the ebook.
The idea that you could convert an .acsm file to a .pdf file is based on the assumption that the .acsm file contains all the text of a book, and that it’s just in the wrong format. That might be true if it was a .doc file, or any other text-based file. That is not what an .acsm file is.
There is no need for you to do any conversion. If you have Adobe Digital Editions installed, then all you have to do is open the .acsm file with that program. Then, the ebook download will continue. When the download is finished, you will have your PDF file.
I tried to download my ebook and all I got was this 1.4 KB .acsm file! That can’t be the entire text of a book!
This is the standard freak-out message that people send. This is usually the result of a person skipping over all the posted software requirements and instructions. Any website that sells ebooks in Adobe’s DRM-protected format will tell you ahead of time that you must use Adobe Digital Editions. If you skip over all those instructions, and you don’t install the software you are told that you need, then of course your computer won’t know what to do with this .acsm file.
As I mentioned above, the .acsm file is NOT supposed to contain the entire text of a book. It is not the ebook at all. It is a small file that manages the download of the ebook through Adobe’s content server.
I hope not, but just in case you missed all of the information above, this is what you should do if you have an .acsm file: open it with Adobe Digital Editions. Do not attempt to open it with Adobe Reader, Acrobat, or any other program.
For the super-confused …
The next question I get from those who have ignored all posted instructions and ended up with an .acsm file that they don’t know what to do with is: But how do I open it with Adobe Digital Editions?
I really have to bang my head on my desk for this one.
Ask yourself this: how do you ever open any other file? There are always three ways:
1. Double-click it. It will open in the program that your computer has associated with that file type. If you have messed up your file associations and the .acsm file is trying to open in the wrong program (like Adobe Reader, for example) then you need to try a different method.
2. Right-click it. Right-click the file, go to “Open With”, and choose Adobe Digital Editions. If that doesn’t do it for you …
3. Open manually from inside the program. Open Adobe Digital Editions. In the upper left area, find LIBRARY. Click the downward arrow next to Library, and click on “Open”. Find the eBook on your computer. It should be in a folder called My Digital Editions, which is in the My Documents folder.
(Those instructions are for Windows, but if you’re on a Mac, you get the general idea.)
ACSM files are not ebooks.
ACSM files manage the download of Adobe DRM-protected ebooks.
Always follow the posted download and installation instructions for any software you purchase.
ACSM files must be opened with Adobe Digital Editions.
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