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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Like my last post about Bluefire Reader (for iOS devices) there is a solution for reading Adobe DRM ebooks on your Android phone or tablet. The app is called Aldiko Book Reader and it can be used on Android OS 2.1 or higher. This is useful because it means that you can get Adobe PDF or EPUB ebooks from sources other than the major sellers like Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble (or even Aldiko itself) and you can read them on your Android device.
Here are instructions for what you need to do to use this app:
Step 1: Install
To install Aldiko on your Android device, scan the barcode on the Aldiko website with your device. Or, search “Aldiko” in the Android Market.
Step 2: Authorize
Just like with Bluefire Reader, you’ll need to authorize your device with an Adobe ID. This is how Adobe verifies that you are the same person who bought the ebook. When you have both your computer and device authorized with the same Adobe ID, you can use your ebooks both places.
To authorize your device, tap on “Adobe DRM” under General Settings. If you have an Adobe ID already, type in your Adobe ID and Password and then tap on “Sign in”. If you don’t have an Adobe ID, just tap on “Register” and you will be linked to the registration page.
Step 3: Import
Here are the options that I gathered from the Aldiko website:
Option 1: Put the ebook in the SD card of your device, then tap on the “SD Card” icon at Home. Check the box next to the file that you want to import (or tap on the menu key of your device and choose “Select All”), then tap on the “Import to Aldiko” button at the pop-up window at the bottom.
Option 2: Create a folder (for example, “import”) in your SD card, and put all the files that you want to import in that folder. Tap on the “SD Card” icon at Home, check the box next to the folder and then tap on the “Import to Aldiko” button at the pop-up window at the bottom.
Option 3: If the ebook files that you want to import are under different folders, tap on the “SD Card” icon at Home, check the box next to the folders that you want to import and then tap on the “Import to Aldiko” button at the pop-up window at the bottom.
If you need help, try Aldiko’s Support website.
This is an article series that will explain the most common reasons why ebook users have trouble opening an ebook that was purchased from an ebook retail website. Most of these issues are easily avoided by simply following your download instructions, installing the software you need, and making sure that you’re using the correct ebook format for your eReader. This post covers reason #4: The DRM Has Gone Wrong Over Time.
This particular problem arises when you’ve purchased an ebook in the past. You might run into trouble if you try to use the ebook on a new computer/device, a computer that has had its operating system upgraded/reinstalled, or if you’re simply trying to re-download an ebook that you’d previously lost or deleted.
Like we have in the previous articles, let’s consider this issue in terms of Adobe’s DRM, since Adobe provides the most prevalent DRM system for ebooks. Adobe does allow users to re-download previous purchases and to use their ebooks on multiple computers and devices. However, Adobe’s DRM system must be worked with properly if you want this to work.
Before you download an Adobe ebook for the first time, you must “authorize” Adobe Digital Editions with your Adobe ID. If you do that, then you can authorize Adobe Digital Editions on other computers with the same Adobe ID, and Adobe will allow you to use your ebooks on those computers as well.
Some people try to skip all of that and just email the ebook to their other computer, transfer it via a thumb drive, or something similar. That is exactly what the software is set up to prevent you from doing. The whole purpose of the DRM is to prevent people from sharing the file with others. Whether or not you agree with this is pretty much irrelevant. It is what you have to deal with right now if you want to use Adobe ebooks.
If you don’t authorize Adobe Digital Editions with the same Adobe ID on each computer, you will probably get an error message that says “ebook already licensed to a different user” or some variation on that text. If you’ve gotten that type of error message, you will have to go back to the beginning of the process and start over.
First, install Adobe Digital Editions on the computer where you want to read the ebook.
Second, authorize it with the same Adobe ID that you used when you downloaded the ebook for the first time. (If you did not authorize Adobe Digital Editions with an Adobe ID before you downloaded the ebook for the first time, then you have effectively forfeited your right to use the ebook on multiple computers.)
Third, return to the ebook store where you purchased the ebook, and download it from there to the computer where you want to use the ebook.
If you suspect that you’ve authorized Adobe Digital Editions with the wrong Adobe ID, you can redo your authorization. Learn how to de-authorize and re-authorize Adobe Digital Editions here.
The next installment in this series will be #5, the final part. See all posts in this series.
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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