Not long ago, I encouraged you to toss the paper manuals that came with your Christmas gadgets and download the PDF versions. If you have an iPad, there are two apps that make this process even more do-worthy: Evernote and GoodReader.
Evernote as a manual filing cabinet
I’ve decided that Evernote (iTunes) is the best place to park gadget manuals because it works great as a general purpose repository.
I just have one Evernote folder: Archive. I made a decision a while back to rely on Evernote's great search ability and try hard to minimize the use of tags in Evernote. Instead of tags, I opt to use verbose note names. Example:
“Nikon manual” isn’t nearly as good as “Nikon model ABC123 camera manual user guide.”
It ain't pretty, but the more verbose description increases the chances you’ll find the manual quickly regardless of whether your mind is thinking in terms of “user guides” or “manuals” or “cameras” in a year when you need the manual.
Best of all, you’ve basically “tagged” the note with keywords without adding to the Charlie Foxtrot of tags already in your sidebar.
iPad + GoodReader
If my PDF manual is in Evernote, it means that I can easily pull it up on my iPad. From there, I can also send the PDF to GoodReader (iTunes), which is hands down the best PDF reader for the iPad I’ve found.
As an example, I’m trying to learn a new digital SLR camera that my wife and I sort of bought each other as a joint Christmas gift. The manual is over 250 pages long. Reading this engaging piece of non-fiction in GoodReader is as great as such a thing can be.
GoodReader reads the electronic table of contents in the PDF, allowing me to quickly go to sections. I can also create my own bookmarks, highlight, annotate, and search for keywords. I don’t even have worry about the manual flapping closed when I set it down.
Sure, you can do what I’ve described above on a laptop, but it’s way easier on the iPad because the damn thing is always on. What's more, the iPad is significantly easier to use when walking around the house, sitting on the floor, or when you’re in any number of bizarre positions that result from assembling and learning new material possessions.