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.
Get some free ebooks!
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.
There are lots of people who unwrapped shiny new eReaders over this past Christmas weekend. This blog is largely written for those who are new to the world of ebooks and e-reading devices, so I try to help folks out with learning the basics.
Perhaps the best place to start might be with my post of eBook Terms for Newbies. That will help you get familiar with some commonly used terms that you might not have been aware of before. Making yourself comfortable with those terms will help you when you start trying to follow instructions for downloading ebooks and using your eReader.
Last year I wrote a post titled “You got an eBook Reader as a gift. Now what?” It gives you a solid set of guidelines to use when learning how your new eReader functions. I really recommend reading that if you’re using your first eReader. The information will help you avoid many of the common problems that people run into, and it should also generally help you learn how to work with your eReader.
My “Top 5 Reasons Why Your eBook Isn’t Opening” is a good place to look when you’re having trouble. It covers hardware issues, software issues, and DRM issues.
If you need help with Adobe Digital Editions, or would just like to learn more about it before you use it, check out these posts:
Adobe Digital Editions — An overview of authorizing and using the program.
How To Authorize Your eReader for Adobe Digital Editions — Step by step instructions.
ACSM Files — What they are and how to work with them. Hint: they are not ebooks!
How To Change the Authorized Adobe ID — Learn how to switch the Adobe ID that your computer is authorized with.
If you’re using a new iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, and you want to read ebooks with Adobe DRM (that were not purchased through Apple’s iBooks) I recommend Bluefire Reader. My Bluefire Reader post has really detailed step-by-step instructions for how to authorize it and how to transfer your ebooks to your device through iTunes.
Likewise, if you’ve got a new Android toy (smartphone or tablet) you can take a look at my post about Aldiko, the recommended app for ebook reading on Android.
If you’ve got pretty much anything other than a new Kindle, you can download some free ebooks here. That’s a great way to test out your eReader since if you make a mistake it won’t cost you anything.
Overall, here are my most basic recommendations for using a new eReader:
1. Learn which ebook formats your device is able to read.
2. Before buying any ebooks, make sure the website you’re using can support your eReader.
3. Take a moment to read your manual and learn the basic functionality of your eReader.
4. Always follow posted instructions! Don’t skip anything.
The ePub ebook format is so important because of its reflowable nature. “Reflowable” means that the text will rearrange itself to fit your screen size. If you increase or decrease the font size, the text also rearranges itself. This is hugely different from standard page displays like those in PDF files. On those files, if you wish to increase the text size, all you can really do is zoom in on the page. eReaders try to let you increase the font size but it always affects the page size as well, cutting off the edges of the pages. If you zoom too far in, you have to scroll sideways back and forth in order to read the a whole line of text. This is the main reason why I think ePub is the best ebook format, and I hope it stays around for a long time.
And because of that, I wanted to compile a list of the best current ePub reading programs that you can use on your computer. Most eReaders can display ePubs, and you can use them on your Android or iOS device (with programs like Aldiko and Bluefire Reader, for example), but not everyone knows which program to use to open them on your computer.
If you’re going to buy an ePub file that is protected by Adobe’s DRM, you’ll have to use Adobe Digital Editions. Likewise, if you buy an ePub ebook at any specific website that has their own DRM, you’ll probably have to use the software that they recommend, but that depends on the website so I can’t tell you what you need.
For regular ePub files, you have some choices:
Adobe Digital Editions – You can still use Adobe Digital Editions for non-DRM ePubs. I do because I already have it installed on my computer.
calibre – This is a program that lets you create, organize, and read your ebooks.
EPUBReader – A Firefox addon that allows you to read ePubs directly in Firefox.
FBReader – Works on Linux/Unix and Windows.
Mobipocket Reader – Bought by Amazon a while ago, and seems to be slowly shutting down. Still good for now.
There are others available that you can dig up, but these listed above are the ones that I feel are best. Stanza, for example, can read many ebook formats but ignores a lot of formatting so you end up missing out on the intended design of the book. Because of that I suspect that other readers might do the same thing.
I think that we’ll probably see more programs released as more and more people use the ePub ebook format. Even now I am seeing that ePub and PDF are the most popular (Kindle notwithstanding) and since ePub works best on the widest range of devices, it is the clear winner as far as I am concerned.
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.
I usually don’t like to repeat news stories that I’ve seen on other websites. That’s not really the purpose of this blog. But I thought it was worth mentioning that it’s been reported that there will be a version of Bluefire Reader for Android.
I like Bluefire Reader because it’s compatible with Adobe DRM ebooks and library ebooks. It was the first real solution for Adobe DRM on iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod). It is easy to use, has all the same features that are now expected of ebook reader apps, and it’s free.
Android devices are quickly becoming popular and widespread, first with the many Android mobile phones that were released, and now with Android-based tablets that are coming out like the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy.
Since Android devices aren’t directly connected to a big book company (such as Amazon, B&N, etc) users aren’t stuck with one ebook source. This makes Bluefire Reader an excellent option for Android because it allows the user to read ebooks from smaller ebook stores.
I haven’t read any specific release date, but I’m sure it will be in the Android Market whenever it is ready to go.