Apple Manuals help you get the most out of Macs, iPads, more

Many users lament the lack of an owner's manual with new tech purchases. Fortunately, Apple publishes its manuals online -- you just need to know where to look to find them.

iPad Pro and Macbook Air 11-inch
Image: Jason Hiner/TechRepublic

Computers, software applications, and other electronic devices used to come with comprehensive manuals. The instructional guides provided setup, configuration, how-to, and reference information.

Over time the manuals shrunk in size to the point they were no longer included, spawning the launch of O'Reilly's Missing Manual series of books, among others. Fortunately for Apple technology users, the company maintains first-rate guides online.

SEE: Free ebook -- Executive's guide to Apple in the enterprise

Apple's Manuals site contains instructional guides for almost all the company's products, including:

A variety of guides are available for each category. For example, there are Mac OS manuals for Boot Camp installation and setup, introductory guides, and special PDFs devoted to individual features, such as VoiceOver. (Note: Most of the links below are to PDFs.)

Essentials guides, available for a range of individual computers including Early 2015, 13" MacBook Air models, can be downloaded as PDF files or iBooks. The Essentials guides are comprehensive manuals that explore everything from getting started migrating data to configuring wireless sharing and printing. These Essentials guides also provide cleanly designed documentation familiarizing users with the many applications included on a new Mac, including Mail, Calendar, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.

iPad manuals include guides instructing users how to connect Smart Keyboards, familiarize themselves with Apple's Pencil, and better manage enterprise deployment of the tablet computers. Well-designed and easily navigated iPad user guides are also available on the Manuals site, such as for iOS 9 devices.

iPhone users will find a variety of guides. iPhone manuals include boilerplate iPhone 6 and 6s safety, warranty, and regulatory information, deployment reference manuals (including for iOS 9), and user's guides (including for iOS 9). IT professionals and technology staff should not to write off these manuals as basic how-to guides. The iOS 9 Deployment Reference guide, for example, includes well-documented, actionable information for enabling and configuring content filtering and VPNs and securing the devices and their applications, among other topics.

Peripheral manuals collect instructional information for input devices, such as the Magic Mouse 2, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Trackpad 2. Setup guides are available for AirPort Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme routers, firewalls, and wireless access points.

Comprehensive Apple Watch user guides collect information showing users how to get started using and configuring a new watch, customizing Glances and Notifications, and more. Similarly, users will find helpful Numbers, Pages, and Keynote user guides and even manuals for consumer apps, such as iWeb and iMovie, though some of those guides are becoming long in the tooth.

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By Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...