As we went over in our What is OverDrive and how does it work article, there are really only four basic steps to using OverDrive:

  • Creating an OverDrive account (which is optional, but useful)
  • Finding and signing into your library or school’s collection with your library card or student ID
  • Finding the media that you want to access
  • Enjoying what you find!

We’ll go over how to do all four of them in brief in this lesson.

Create an OverDrive account (optional)

In addition to your library account (which keeps track of what media you have actually borrowed), you can also create an OverDrive account. It’s not actually necessary in order to use OverDrive, but it’s handy because it helps you keep track of libraries and schools that you’re registered with, what items you search for frequently, and other preferences.

1. Go to in your web browser and click Sign Up in the top-right corner.

2. On the next screen, click in the appropriate boxes and type in your name, your email address, and a copy of your email address. Then click in the “Password” box and type in a password that you want to use for your account; it has to be at least 8 characters long.

You can also click to mark the check box here and receive email notifications of recommendations and reviews from OverDrive, based on what you borrow. You don’t have to, though.

Once you’re done, click Sign Up.

3. You will receive a verification email at the email address you used to sign up. Log into your email client and open the email titled “Important: Please Verify your OverDrive Account”. Then click the blue hyperlink inside it.

4. There! Now you can use your account to adjust your settings and genres, find libraries near you, save searches, and decide whether you want recommendations or not!

Find your library or school and sign in

1. Go to in your web browser and click Find a Library in the top-right corner.

2. You will be taken to a map that will help you find the location of your nearby local library.

You can use the search box in the top-left corner to find a specific library by its name or address, or you can scroll through the list below it to see all school or library networks in your area, along with their individual branches.

You can also control the map itself by clicking and holding the mouse button down, and dragging your mouse around. You can also press the “+” button to zoom the map in, the “-” button to zoom the map out, or the “↗” button to re-center the map on your general location.

Click one of the dots on the map to view the school or library and the network that it belongs to. If you’re logged into your OverDrive account, you can click Save Library to save the network you’re looking at as one that you search for frequently. Or, click Delete Library to remove it from your list.

(NOTE: If you’re not logged into an OverDrive account, the Save Library button will be replaced with one that takes you to that library network’s website).Click the name of the network that the library is part of to visit their digital collection.

3. When you arrive at the library network’s digital collection, you should probably sign in before you do anything else. So click Sign In; you can usually find it in the top-right corner.

4. On the next screen, you’ll be asked to input your library card or school ID number, along with a 4-digit personal identity number (PIN). As you are informed of here, your PIN is the last four numbers of your phone number by default, but you can change it (or may have already).

Find and access the title that you’re looking for

Once you’ve signed in, you can click one of the categories in the menu near the top to look for an item in a certain format and/or genre, or simply browse available items in the visual categories below. You can even use manual and advanced search options (we’ll go over these in more detail in our OverDrive Search tutorial).

Once you find a title that you want, moving your mouse cursor over it reveals some options as to what you can do with it.

Your choices (from top-to-bottom, left-to-right) are:

  • Borrow — Gain access to this item for a specific period of time.
  • Sample — Hear or view a short excerpt from this item, in order to decide whether you want to borrow it or not.
  • Wish List — If the item isn’t available right now, or you don’t want to borrow it now but would like to keep track of it so that you can borrow it later, click here to add it to your account’s “Wish List”.
  • Share — Recommend this title to a friend (or friends). You can share it over Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or email.
  • More — Shows you more detailed information about this item, including its subjects, available formats, availability, and rights that you have with respect to it (e.g. whether you can transfer it to other devices or not). You may also be able to change how long you are able to borrow the item for (1 week, 2 weeks or 3 weeks; the default period is 2 weeks).

Click Borrow to begin the lending period for this item.


Once you have borrowed an item, you will be notified that it has been added to your “Bookshelf”, as well as of how many more items can be added to your “Bookshelf”. You will also notice that, on the item you’ve borrowed, the Borrow button has changed to Go to Bookshelf. Click it.

Scroll through your “Bookshelf” until you find the title that you borrowed. Click Listen (or Watch or Read) to enjoy your item right on OverDrive itself, through OverDrive’s built-in media players.

Or, click Download to save a copy of the item onto your computer, and play it using another piece of software (such as the OverDrive app). This will let you enjoy it without having to log back into OverDrive every time that you want to access it.

(IMPORTANT NOTE: If you download an item, you will need to also download and install the OverDrive app in order to access it or convert it into a file that another media player will understand. We’ll show you how to do that in our OverDrive App tutorial.)

Well, that’s a quick overview of how you can use OverDrive to access and enjoy all sorts of different media, from audio books to e-books to music to videos!