One Useful Thing: Manuals Lib

Free library of 3,000,000+ product manuals.

One Useful Thing is a weekly newsletter of well-designed and helpful things.

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I know product manuals aren’t exciting, but when you need one, you need one.

Say you’re trying to set the clock on your parents' ancient DVD player. Odds are they’ve misplaced the printed version.

You could search the manufacturer’s website or try a little Google roulette. You may get lucky. But who has the time or patience?

Try Manuals Lib first. It may save you a lot of time and frustration.

Enter the part number and/or manufacturer of your product on the Manuals Lib website. (If you don’t know those, try browsing the Manuals Lib catalog of popular brands.)

Here I’ve entered the name of a manufacturer, JVC, but no product name or part number. Manuals Lib shows all of JVC’s product categories and tells me there are over 25,298 manuals for JVC products. Whew!

Clicking the ‘VCR’ image takes me to the VCR manuals page. From there I can select the model.

I’ve clicked a JVC VCR model DR-MV2SEL from 2005. Manuals Lib gives me a table of contents for that very old manual.

Clicking the title or table of contents takes me to a digital version of the manual that I can page through, search and download, free, without signing up for anything.

You will need to register if you’d like to save manuals in a collection on the Manuals Lib website or contribute your own manual by uploading it.

Manuals Lib also has an app for Android.

Now for the hard part: getting your parents to use Netflix instead of a VCR.

Previously from One Useful Thing: Hemingway Editor: Make your writing bold, clear and easy to read.

Keith Monaghan writes the One Useful Thing newsletter and is a researcher who works with creative teams on projects for companies like Nike, The CW Network and Upworthy. He can be reached at or follow him on Twitter @keithmonaghan

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