Here is a handy tip that almost anyone can use at work or home – how to never lose a set of instructions or an owners manual.

How many times have you purchased something that comes with a simple or detailed set of instructions? How many times have you ended up needing that material – months later? And of those times – how often could you actually find it?

More and more, merchandise is packaged with little to no documentation. Companies have found that it is less expensive to bundle their products with minimal documentation, electronic documentation on CD, or no documentation at all.

Some items have especially useful information in their documentation, such as part numbers for replacement parts. Other items contain information that you need later on, such as programming steps for an electronic timer. You can keep any paper manuals you receive, but they start to take up room and there is the possibility they will be lost.

What can you do?

The answer is simple. Any time you purchase something that has a manual or other documentation you want to retain, simply go online and download the PDF version as soon as you open the box.

Create a folder on your computer that is dedicated to Manuals. Organize it in a manner that works best for you. You could, for example, organize by product type or use.

Finding the manual is usually an easy process. Visit Google and plug in the model number of what you purchased along with “filetype:pdf”. This will tell Google to only return search results that are PDFs.

For example: let’s assume you purchase a small lawn mower, the Black & Decker LM175. Perform a Google search for one of more of the following:

black decker lm175 filetype:pdf
black decker manual lm175 filetype:pdf

You will find that the top search results are usually the owners manual in PDF form. Save a copy of the PDF to your Manuals folder you created and you will have it forever.

Not only will you have a copy of documentation for everything you buy, but PDFs have many advantages:

1. File size is usually small so you can have hundreds or even thousands of manuals
2. PDFs are searchable (usually) so you can quickly find what you are looking for
3. If you absolutely need it you can print the PDF and have the information back on paper

One last important thing to mention – be sure to back up your manuals (along with your other important data!) You should have an automatic local backup as well as something that goes offsite.