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How to read the Apple Manual

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Did you know that you can get a full users' manual for most Apple devices?

Yes, just like what would have been included in the box years ago, before we all became so concerned about paper waste and businesses took advantage of that concern as a way to save on printing costs.

Mister Icon reading a book

Apple publishes digital user guides for most of its products on the Apple Book Store, accessible on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac devices.

If you really want to know the ins and outs of your Apple devices, then these user guides can be really useful.

It seems as though in modern times, we've all just learnt to forget about reading the manual. Possibly because companies like Apple stopped giving them to us, but probably also because so many people just don't have the time or the inclination to read them.

I might be an outlier, but I still like receiving a printed manual when I buy a new product. And I do read them.

Oftentimes, what's in the manual is self-explanatory or just all the legally required warnings that companies have to include with their products, but sometimes a user's guide/manual will give you some information that you just never would have found out about otherwise.

That's why I think it's great that Apple still takes the time to prepare quality user guides for its products, even if it doesn't actually print them anymore.

Digital user guides actually have some advantages over printed ones, as they can be updated to match software changes, and can be easily made available in multiple languages.

Digital manuals can also contain hyperlinks and can be searched, which definitely helps when you're looking for something specific.

But the only problem is, we have to remember that these user guides exist in the first place!

If you manage to do that, you can head to the following link: https://support.apple.com/manuals

This special Manuals section of Apple's support site allows you to browse or search for the product you're interested in, and then access manuals via links through to the Apple Book Store. These manuals are free and are downloaded into the Books app just like any other eBook. For many products, the Manual support site also offers the option to view an interactive manual via your web browser.

A screenshot of the Manuals section of Apple's Support website, showing some of the various User Guides available for eBook download or online viewing.

In addition, Apple's Manuals site provides downloadable PDFs for many of the Quick Start Guide slips of paper that you do still get in the box even today. In most cases, those documents aren't very useful, but it's nice that they are available somewhere, especially since with some of Apple's less complex products, that little Quick Start Guide is all you get. For example, there is currently no manual for the AirTag on the Book Store, as the AirTag is a relatively simple product. But you can download a PDF of the small Quick Start Guide that you get in the AirTag packaging—handy if you ever lose it and want to check on something.

So that's about it in relation to Apple Manuals for now. But as this is a blog with a focus on things like useability and accessibility, I'll end with a simple suggestion for Apple that I think would really help to make these manuals more useable: make it easier for us to find them.

I think would be cool if Apple provided links directly to the relevant User Guides, from multiple places within the devices we're using. For example, if I went to the Settings on my iPhone, surely it couldn't be too hard to have a prominent link in there somewhere that would take me to the full User Guide, so I could (a) know that such a thing exists, and (b) actually find it and read it.

(The little slips of paper in the box usually do direct users to the existence of such digital user guides, but it would be much more useable if we could just tap an on-screen link in the Settings.)

A simple link to the relevant User Guide from within the ‘Tips’ app that is preinstalled on all iOS/iPadOS devices would surely not be too difficult either.

And even better would be to maybe include such links in the Apple Support app as well. That app is already clever enough to provide relevant information for all Apple devices linked to an Apple ID, so if Apple knows all the devices I own, surely it could provide simple links to all the Apple User Guide eBooks that would be relevant to me. That would be really useful and would make it effortless for us to find the right manual for our devices.

So if anyone from Apple happens to come across this humble blog, thank you for reading and please make this a reality!

And for anyone else: thank you for reading too and I hope this article might have been informative.

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