5 Websites To Find Online User Manuals For Free

The time you most need a user manual is often the time you discover that you don’t have one… Usually this occurs only after you have wasted an hour rummaging through dozens of old manuals – for stuff you no longer even own, only to find that the one you really need is missing ;-)

[Updated March 2015 – removed number 4 as no longer available]

I’m not just talking about computing stuff either – user manuals for products like ovens, mowers, TV and audio equipment etc all seem to have a habit of disappearing. The next step is to look for a manual online but this can also be frustrating:

  • Manufacturer websites can be hard to navigate (especially for old/obsolete products) or may simply no longer exist.
  • Google searches may find websites which claim to have the right manual – but then want to charge you to look at it…

Here are 5 free websites to help (in no particular order) – each has its own merits so it can be worth trying more than one to find a particularly obscure manual. As a quick test I searched each site for a user manual/guide for a Canon Pixma IP3000 printer which is about 8 years old – the results are included for each website.

1. ManualsLib – This has over 600,000 user manuals in PDF format – you can read the PDF within the website or download it and save/print. Wide range of manuals including tech stuff, home appliances, mowers, board games etc.

It has a good predictive search feature which narrows down the search results as you type. Related manuals are listed below the product result which can help if the model number is slightly different (e.g. in different countries) or if there is more than PDF available for that product e.g. a quick start guide and a full user manual.

Test Results – found Setup Instructions and a 100 page Quick Start Guide

2. ManualsOnline – This has over 300,000 user manuals in PDF format – you can read the PDF within the website or download it and save/print. Wide range of manuals including tech stuff, home appliances, power tools, car audio etc.

It has a good predictive search feature which narrows down the search results as you type. You can also search by product type and brand – search filters are simple to use. Provides a direct link to the manufacturer’s support website if no manual is available.

Warning: watch out for the ‘Sponsored Links’ – these advert boxes may include links to other sites that charge for manuals.

ManualsOnline has more of a forum and community feel – you can ask questions for product support and discussions from users are listed below the product manual. This night be a useful source of info for troubleshooting but many answers will basically suggest that you just read RTFM ;-) That is what the site is for after all…

Test Results – found Setup Instructions and a 100 page Quick Start Guide

3. Scribd – a huge document sharing website that includes books, speeches and magazine articles etc but also has a useful manuals section which includes automobiles, crafts, gadgets and scrapbooking.

You can read the PDF within the website. Recent documents can be downloaded for free but archived documents may require paid membership to download. However, you could just save the whole webpage as a ‘webpage, complete’ to include the document and formatting for later reference.

No predictive search feature but you can search by product or category and filter by language, length, file type and paid/free content (paid content mostly applies to some books and research papers – not user manuals).

Test Results – found a Service Manual and a Reset Printer Guide

4. SafeManuals – Over 3 million user manuals in PDF (or zipped) format – you can download the PDF and save/print. Wide range of manuals including tech stuff, home appliances, toys, music etc.

To download you must either rate the product or enter a security code (Captcha test). No predictive search feature but you can search by manufacturer or category then by product name.

Test Results – found a full User Manual and an Introduction to Application Software guide – both were in HTML (website) format.

The download was a zipped file – when extracted it required a bit of tech knowledge and digging to find the correct index.htm file and TOC.htm file to browse both manuals – on the other hand it was the only site that included both these manuals.

5. ESI – Primarily aimed at engineers and technicians, not end users – component datasheets, IC diagrams, service guides and schematics for a range of electronic equipment.

More specialized than the other sites so not as comprehensive. Active user forums can be helpful for troubleshooting and repairs. Manuals are generally in PDF, RAR or Zip format – you can download the file and save/print.

No predictive search feature but you can filter searches by manufacturer and product type.

Test Results – none found. No great surprise as the site is more specialized than standard home user printers.

Conclusion

It is worth noting that no single website found every available manual/guide in my (very limited) testing but three sites did find the user manual.

Other documents found included a useful Service Manual, Set Up Instructions, a Reset Printer Guide and an Introduction to Application Software guide – I didn’t manage to find any of these on Canon’s own website so these were a nice bonus.

Results will vary depending on the product searched for but these are all useful sites to bookmark for future reference.

6 Responses to: "5 Websites To Find Online User Manuals For Free"

  1. Isabella says:

    Thanks for the compilation. For people interested in mobile phones user manuals check MobileManual.co.

  2. Roger Pulcini says:

    Looking for installation manual for a Genie Pro-88 Garage door opener. I was given one that works from a friend but need wiring hook and instructions to install. Thank You.

    • Steve H says:

      Roger, did you ever find the Genie Pro-88 manual? I’m needing one also – any pointers would be appreciated.

  3. Graham says:

    The websites described fulfil a useful function but as time goes by tend to fill up with long-forgotten products. Valuable as this may be, we live in a world of constant innovation and short product life. Also, manuals are mostly still on paper and PDF copies can be difficult to read on the devices most of us carry with us – the smartphone.

    When you need information about a product, instead of consulting a reference the most obvious thing to do would be to ask the product itself whatever it is you need to know. Sounds like science fiction: “OK washing machine, what program do I need for delicate fabrics? ”

    To make this science fiction a reality, all that’s needed is for manufacturers to put a Bluetooth beacon into every product they make. When you are near the product an app on your phone will offer you all the available information, direct from the website of the manufacturer or a third party. Simple as that. Added cost per item: $1 or less.

    All the technology exists now. There’s even a universal beacon scanner app (for Android) at http://mgscan.com.

    Anyone know how to get manufacturers interested?

  4. Anh Phan says:

    Does anyone have Z-mike laser micrometer 1202B series manual ?

  5. David says:

    HELP. Anyone know where to find owners manuals, free, for snowmobiles? Specifically for
    1. 1998 Polaras Indy Touring Machine.
    2. 2000 Yamaha Venture 500.