Whatever happened to INSTRUCTION MANUALS??!?!


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 30, 2002
OK, just going to get this off my chest. Had my 17" Flat Panel iMac for a month or so and absolutely loving it. What I don't love is the lack of information that comes with a piece of equipment that for some of us is a pretty big investment. Whilst I am not new to Macs, I am new to iMacs and OSX and an instruction manual would have been much appreciated.

I appreciate that the iMac has a 'Help Viewer' which at first glance looks very helpful but in reality is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle. It has no index that I can find and if you dare to pose a question or type a keyword in the search field, be prepared to trawl through fifty help topic results that have a vague connection to what you typed in but don't address your query.

For an afternoon of frustration, try searching the Help Viewer for info on how to burn a CD - it very nicely tells you to drag the CD icon to the Burn icon in the dock. What it neglects to add is that you can't actually see the Burn icon until you drag over the Trash icon and it miraculously appears (of course, I should have known). A very simple process that I don't have a problem with, I just want to be told about it instead of embarking on an hour-long journey of enlightenment.

I also realise that there are online resources available that are helpful, but not all of us are online 24/7 and should I really have to log in every time I have a mystery to solve? I don't want to read posts from the hundreds of lost souls who have gone before me in the hope that they were confused by the same issues. The forums should be for real technical issues instead of being clogged by people trying to learn the basics.

There are great books on the market (Robin Williams has some excellent ones), but again, why should I have to invest in a book when I've just paid thousands for my computer? Message to Apple, you come up with computers that real people need, now spend some of your development dollars on something really radical like a basic hard-copy user guide. I'll keep convincing my friends to buy a Mac and I'll keep making a post-purchase appointment with them to show them how to use the thing.

There, I feel better now...

Any feedback welcome.


macrumors 65816
Jan 19, 2002
Here's the why:

Most people (often incorrectly) do not feel they need the instructions, so the manuals are tossed into landfill.

All the information is still there, assuming you can get your web connection setup without a manual. This saves companies a lot of money (printing, designing, shipping a book with every model), saves some resources, and allows peer user support, which is oftem much better than the manual anyway.

My Mac owners manuals have gotten slimmer of late, but things like cars still have them (sensibly). My ReplayTV came with one which was WORTHLESS compared to avsforums.com & google. My TV had one which was just wasteful.

If you need more info, you can alway print the PDF manuals that are available.


macrumors 65816
Jun 3, 2002

I think Microsoft started this with Win95, and everybody else followed suit. I know it really stinks when you go out and spend a few hundred (or thousand) dollars on a piece of equipment, and all you get is a "user manual" to look at when something goes wrong. You know,
Problem: screen is dark.
Solution: plug in screen.
"If this does not fix your problem, contact your authorized service dealer". I know, what crap.
I work on HP computers at work, and They come with a manual that has about 5 pages on ergonomics (stretch your fingers every hour) and about 5 pages of warrantee info, in different languages. In other words nothing useful. Oh well, that's progress. Somewhere on your iMac is a user manual that is (I believe) a couple of hundred pages long. Use the finder and do a search for manual. I will be a pdf file. Good luck.


macrumors regular
Jul 16, 2002
Akron, PA
I'm rather new to the Mac community (just bought a 1Ghz TiBook) and found that the slimness of the 'instruction manuals' to be quite refreshing. I believe Macs are designed in such a way that they really don't need a detailed 500 page manual; you press the power button, and you're ready to go. It doesn't take a genius to operate a computer, but since computers are such a part of our lives now, many more people are familiar with them. And Macs are built with simplicity in mind so that you don't need those big manuals anymore.

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
Printing paper intructions is extremely EXPENSIVE - when you're talking about keeping it up to date for fast/slow changing products.

With the extremely thin margins, a 4-color book can actually push a product into the RED.

The support sites may sometimes do a better job than out-of-date paper books. And companies call these self-service sites a drain on profit. :(

The MS example actually increased the margins of their products by quite a bit, especially when you think of the volume of paper they used to burn with the old paper brick packages.


macrumors 65816
Jan 1, 2002

Ok, paper instructions are expensive. How about the same info on a separate CD-ROM labelled "Help" or "manual"?Cost to produce=$.50 Cost to package=$.50, usefullness to customers=Priceless.

Sorry, i couldn't help it.



macrumors 68030
Aug 4, 2002
Madison, Wi
why give people a comprehensive manual for their problems when you can charge an arm and a leg for phone support?

but seriously, you get some free phone support for awhile with your new mac, use it. printing is expensive, and it wastes trees.....


macrumors 68020
Jul 4, 2002
Muncie, Indiana
Re: Whatever happened to INSTRUCTION MANUALS??!?!

Originally posted by sparkyjr
I appreciate that the iMac has a 'Help Viewer' which at first glance looks very helpful but in reality is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle.
:D That's great, it echos my feelings exactly. The Help Viewer is completely worthless, besides being slow, and having a rotten user interface. I think it was inspired by the help feature of Microsoft Office, which had cute little Clippy to make it even more irritating and insulting. I don't think I've ever found anything useful in the Help Viewer. Has anyone?

Apple is to blame themselves for the paucity of manuals these days. When the Mac came out, they had a commercial showing a little skimpy manual fluttering down. Everyone else saw that and said "Great! Nobody needs big manuals anymore!" And they immediately chopped out most of their manuals. After all, manuals are horribly expensive and look at all the money we can save, if after all, customers will accept that they don't need a thick manual!

Anyhow, I suggest popping into your local bookstore. I've heard good things about "The Essential Mac OS X Reference". You might also try "The Mac OS X Missing Manual".


macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2002
Philadelphia, PA
It is expensive to print - plus the info changes so fast that it is almost impossible to keep up. I work as a designer, and if we have less than a month to push out a brochure/catalog/whatever we feel like we were rushed and did not get it all complete.

Every time you upgrade something (OS, peripherals, etc) your original instructions become useless. I have a stack of instruction manuals for PowerBooks, Imacs, Ibooks and if I would want to follow those instructions - well I couldn't. the OS changed, the icons have been moved, etc. In other words, beyond opening the computer package and the first few days or weeks, your instruction manual becomes obsolete.


macrumors 68020
May 9, 2001
I do need a manual for switching to OSX

I have lots of frustrations using OSX, I have OS9 fully dominated for a long time, back and foward without using any computer lenaguge. For what I do I know what extensions give problems, when I have to trow preferences away plus some other things.

With OSX I feel like a fish on the ground, it is easy I know but I can not work that fast because Apple changed things around and for some stupid reason changed the comand keys and some relevant names too.

That mean:
1. I have to re-learn a few more things again, Ok, I can do it spending time with the OSX, but and the manual?
2. If OSX is better 100%, where is the manual to help me explore the benefits of the difference?
Otherwise would be 10% "faster" and 60% new interface and 40% trouble with the new names and etc.

There should be a "introduction to OSX for OS9 people" at list in PDF.
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