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user manualsUser manuals – those thick (or thin) soft covered sheaf’s of paper with multi-lingual instructions and weird hieroglyphics that we don’t bother to read. Not only that, it gets stuffed inside the box it came in and gets chucked into the deep cob-webbed corners never to be seen again. Until, brain freeze strikes and you can’t quite make out what that little button on your glitzy remote does. We all have rummaged through the house looking for the user manual we ‘misplaced’. No luck.

Here’s where a bit of smarts comes in. The meticulous guy with foresight will either scan it and keep a softcopy in his computer, or look for a softcopy that’s usually available as PDF on the manufacturer’s site.

There’s a third option – a bunch of specialist websites which does the hard work for us lazybones, and stockpiles user manuals for us to search and download.

Retrevo

user manuals

Retrevo is an electronics shopping site. It is also an above par consumer gadget review sites, but I am betting here that you can make better use of it for its rich index of over 100,000 manuals that are available for free download. That’s 100,000 user manuals from 1000 brands.

When trouble strikes, you can head to Retrevo and drill down the alphabetical listing. Better still, scan down the popular brand name list to find the electronic/electrical gizmo that’s playing hard to get. Retrevo covers popular names like Casio, Canon, Dell, Electrolux, and Sony. I spotted a few names like Victorinox and Fossil that you don’t expect to see so commonly.

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What I like about Retrevo: The broad categories: I found 2-way radios, humidifiers, telescopes, GPS systems, and gaming accessories here.

Manuals Online

specialist website

Manuals Online ranks right up there when you search for user manuals on Google. Why shouldn’t it, as it beats Retrevo with a headcount of 600,000 user guides and manuals, and it is just as attractive. The specialist site covers all kinds of user manuals in any category of consumer electronic/electrical product you can think of. 300,000 user manuals from 5000 brands…that’s quite a collection.

Manuals Online is completely about manuals. Choose Brands or Categories, or just use the search engine at the top. You can also register and log-in to organize all the manuals you need with the Manage My Stuff feature on the site. It allows you to arrange your manuals by rooms, and also record any discussion topics or related information around the product.

What I like about Manuals Online: The virtual filing cabinet (Manage My Stuff) is a super organizational tool. Also, Manuals Online could be your one-stop for manual and gadget related help with its 2 million strong community that can give you any product help.

Safe Manuals

specialist website

Safe Manuals gets it right when it says – what can you do when an e-bay auction you won ends with you getting the item without the instructions?

Safe Manuals does not look as spiffy as the two sites above, but it does have nearly 400,000 user guides and manuals across nearly 11,000 brands to hold its own. Here too you can upload your own user manual and help to grow the stock. Browse by manufacturer or category. You will notice that Safe Manuals also covers car and bike manufacturers starting from A (Aston Martin) to V (Volkswagen). There are also some names which do not have manuals linked to them, so that’s sometimes a downer.

What I like about Safe Manuals: Quite a few of the popular brands have forums around them where you can shout for help or help others with their troubleshooting.

iFixit

specialist website

Do you balk when you have to pick up your screwdriver and open up the panel of a gadget? Most of us do, because we aren’t the DIY-er types. It is also not a great idea to go charging into the complicated circuitry of a gadget’s innards. That’s where iFixit comes in. iFixit is a repair-it-yourself website with free online repair manuals across varied products – from Apple to Xboxes. It started out with Mac but now includes general purpose household gadgets too.

iFixit has been divided into three major portions: Parts (get repair parts and upgrades), Repair (step-by-step guides), and Answers (diagnose and troubleshoot).

What I like about iFixit: Teardowns (disassembly instructions) and repair guides come with illustrations and detailed instructions.

eSpares

specialist sites

eSpares describes itself as UK’s leading spare parts retailer. It is mainly a site that deals with spare parts, accessories and consumables for all the electrical appliances in your home and garden, but it also stocks up on user manuals for appliances around the house. With common brands available across the Atlantic, you can try this out too.

What I like about eSpares: You can search for your user manual using a combination of manufacturer’s name from the dropdown and the model number.

The Manuals

user manuals

I wouldn’t underestimate the plain-Jane nature of The Manuals which is basically a Google Custom Search engine disguised as a PDF search tool for user manuals. It is quick and handy if you don’t have the time to drill through the other sites on this list. You get the option of viewing manuals online or downloading them to your desktop as PDF files.

What I like about The Manuals: Quick access and simple search with a language selection.

These six specialized websites on user manuals and guides are probably the cream of them all out there. If you still don’t manage to get the one you are looking for, approach the communities behind some of these services. Then, there’s trusty old Google Search of course. Do you have your own trusty old source? How do you manage your manuals? Did you ever miss one, and curse yourself for throwing it away?

Image Credit: A concerned computer user  via Shutterstock

 

 

  1. Adam
    January 12, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Few days before I found new, good looking website with user manuals - http://www.manualsbase.com - maybe it will be helpful for someone

    • Saikat
      January 13, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      Hey Adam,

      That looks like a well-designed and thought out site. Thanks for the link.

  2. Alex
    January 1, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Very usefull. Thanks. Last time I found manual here: en.all-manuals.net

  3. don lapointe
    December 29, 2012 at 4:14 am

    8o yr old radio man big collection of ex mil/eqpt always looking for diagrams manuals ect do you have anything on a tty/cw tri mode convertor mod 100 info tech thnx swampy

  4. Isabella
    October 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks for the compilation, Saikat. At PDFmanual.co you can find user manuals for many car makes and models.

  5. Igor Rizvi?
    September 7, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Im a eletronics ,so this is very usefull to mee,thanks alot

  6. Michael Luchini
    August 31, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Great list! I had luck with hard to find car manuals at http://theglovebox.net

  7. Igor Rizvi?
    July 31, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks,i helped me alot in my work! :)

  8. Suman Acharya
    July 29, 2012 at 7:31 am

    good work. very useful.

  9. Steve Montgomery
    July 27, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Excellent resource! Thanks, Saikat!

  10. Theresa Banks
    July 26, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    The websites provided will be most useful. I have been recently searching the web for a manual that I could not find. Thanks to John for his submission of the site for service manuals.

  11. Meghen E. Ehrich
    July 26, 2012 at 10:21 am

    We've started "storing" all of our manuals in Evernote to free up space in our filing cabinet - this will make it so much easier! Thanks!

    • Saikat Basu
      July 26, 2012 at 12:35 pm

      That's one of the better uses of Evernote :) Thanks for the tip.

  12. Scott
    July 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    this is great, not just because of the above reasons, but sometimes i like the read the manuals to find out about the product before i purchase it. thanks for the above list that will be added to my already buldging makeuseof file.

    • Saikat Basu
      July 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      Precisely...that's a good tip. It's one of the better ways to familiarize yourself with the product before you buy it.
      (It also helps to test out the knowledge of the counter sales-man who is trying to push you the product).

  13. Shakirah Faleh Lai
    July 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I always be there if I need a manual.

  14. susendeep dutta
    July 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

    I have seen that nowadays,many manufacturers are either packing slim down version of manuals or not bothering to provide it at all.When my friend has purchased a phone and a tablet,he has to visit the manufacturer's site to get its manual.I have seen iFixit as it always dissects many products and reveals about the quality of it.

    • Saikat Basu
      July 24, 2012 at 10:40 am

      That's good in a way...why waste precious paper when you can be more comprehensive on the web. What I would like to see more of are official guides in video.

  15. Alan Wade
    July 24, 2012 at 6:22 am

    Thankyou very much, the hours I have spent searching for manuals around the house and online is unbelievable. I tried two searches both with hits instantly.

    Excellant article.

  16. Aditya Roy
    July 24, 2012 at 6:17 am

    Very useful post. Thanxx Saikat.

  17. Hoku Sarroca
    July 23, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    oh this is great! Thank you!!! but I may be old school... I do keep my manuals, I have a file folder just for it. LOL Bad habits are hard to break ... maybe someday I will use it to stay warm ... ;D

  18. Andrey Zvyagin
    July 23, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Thank you! It has long been searching for a site where you can find instructions for free.

  19. Ryszard Grodzicki
    July 23, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    I usually have to keep boxes for warranty so I put manuals inside (or just throw them somewhere and of course when I need it I forget where it is)

    • Saikat Basu
      July 24, 2012 at 2:18 am

      You are just the right candidate for this article :)

  20. Rigoberto Garcia
    July 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Thanks Saikat. Good places to start searching. Try them in my next need.

  21. John Schmitt
    July 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    http://www.eserviceinfo.com/ is the place I look to for service manuals!

  22. Andrei Anikin
    July 23, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks, comes in handy.

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