Find Digital Copies of Your User Guides

NEED THE INSTRUCTION guide for your laptop? Unless you’re one of those freakishly organized types, I’ll bet you have no idea where it is. And even if you do know its location, fetching it probably involves a visit to the attic or basement, digging through boxes, and so on. What a hassle.

Why not keep a digital library of your manuals instead? You could store them on your PC, your tablet, your smartphone, or anywhere else that’s convenient. You could even keep them in multiple locations—say, in a PDF viewer app on your iPad and in your universally accessible Dropbox account.

Okay, but how can you find the manuals for your particular printer, monitor, digital camera, and other items? You could go the brute-force route and comb each and every manufacturer’s website until you find the right guide for each piece of hardware you own, but I have a better suggestion: Head to Retrevo (

Seek and Retrieve

The Retrevo site offers downloadable manuals for all kinds of electronics, from calculators and cell phones to TVs and remote controls. The only trick is to know where to find the site’s comprehensive listing of these resources.

Retrevo is primarily a shopping portal, and it carries a vast collection of product prices and reviews. In addition, it stores more than 100,000 manuals (in electronic form) for products across more than 1000 brands. When you reach the site, scroll down to the link for the User Manuals section.

Click through and you’ll see a section called ‘User Manuals for Popular Brands’. Click the brand you’re after, or click a letter to search alphabetically. Alternatively, you can browse by category or search for a particular product (an iPhone, for example).

When you do find the manual you want, you can easily download it as a PDF file.

If that approach doesn’t pan out, you can try running a Google search for PDFs that match your product make/model. For example, here’s a search string that I used in hunting for a PDF version of an iPod Touch user guide: ipod touch user guide filetype:pdf

Once you have amassed your electronic library of manuals, you can toss the old paper versions into the circular file (or park them in the recycling receptacle).

PCWorld Magazine – June 2012


  • Afewgoodmen

    Nice article. For me, I think all papers should stop being produced so that we can save our rain forest. I prefer digital to paper copies. I have digitised all my important documents and that’s what I go everywhere with!

    • Wale Falade

      Lately, most user guides/manuals come in pdf format, though mainly due to cost considerations. Early this year, i got an annual general report for an insurance company in pdf format on a CD!

  • Eye_bee_kay

    Good tip.

    I also find quite useful…

Leave your comment