Using Google Docs to Save and Organize Owner’s Manuals

Over the past year and a half, we’ve accumulated a LOT of owner’s manuals.  We purchased new appliances for last year’s big kitchen renovation, and more recently, had to purchase some new tools when we were building our banquette.

Any time we buy a piece of equipment that comes with an owner’s manual or user’s manual, I usually take it an put it in a bin that I have designated for manuals.  I don’t spend much time, (err, really any time) organizing the physical copies any more than that. I don’t alphabetize them or sort them by type. (Although it is always tempting after seeing the cute ways that folks organize them like here and here, I just don’t think the time investment is worth it for us).   I just dump the manuals the bin and, if I need to use it in the future, I can usually find the one I’m looking for in just a few minutes.

But, I do take an extra step to organize the manuals electronically!


Every few months I’ll open the bin and search for electronic copies of the manual online.  I do this simply by Googling the title of the manual, and a .PDF version of the manual will typically appear in one of the first few search results.  So for instance, for our miter saw, I just Googled “hitachi c10fch2 safety instructions and instruction manual,” which were words on the cover of the manual.  Then, I save the electronic copy to a Google Docs folder that Ken and I share called “Manuals.”

I just recently went through a huge stack of manuals and saved them to our Google Docs folder.

We still keep the hard copies in our bin, because a lot of times its easier to refer to the paper copy when you’re trying to figure something out, but this way we always have an electronic backup in case we lose our hard copy!  As an added benefit, this also serves as a good basis for a home inventory.  We know the names and model numbers of many big ticket items in our home in case we were to ever need them for insurance purposes.

How do you organize your owner’s manuals and other paperwork from your purchases?

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