Bugs & Fixes: Searching for Apple’s latest support articles

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Once upon a time, Apple was more than happy to help users keep up with the latest troubleshooting and how-to tips in its Knowledge Base (KB).

That time is over.

Once upon a time, you could request that Apple send you a daily email with links to all the KB articles that had been modified the previous day.

Not any more. That service was abandoned years ago.

Once upon a much more recent time, Apple maintained a special Knowledge Base article that listed all the KB articles that had been modified in the past week.

Sadly, this list is also now gone. Apple eliminated it a couple of months ago.

Actually, this is not the first time Apple eradicated the “recently modified articles” listing. It first did so back in 2008. However, after a brief absence, Apple restored the list. And it happily remained available—until its most recent vanishing act. This time, the elimination appears permanent.

A bit of good news: the Search function on Apple’s main Support page can serve as a partial substitute for the absent list. For example, with the appropriate search terms, you can locate articles covering a newly released update, such as “iOS 8.0.2” (although I have found that results may not include relevant articles posted in the last couple of days). However, you can’t use Search to obtain a combined list of all recently modified articles. It won’t work, not even if you enter a specific date or range of dates as the search terms. This is because Search apparently does not look at an article’s “last modified” date.

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Apple’s main support page. Click on the magnifying glass icon to initiate a search.

Speaking of dates, at one time, each KB article included both a “created” and a “last modified” date. This allowed you to tell when an article first appeared as well as when it was last updated. Now, there is only a “last modified” date. This means there is no immediate way to know if a recent article is an entirely new posting or a minor update to a previously posted one.

Why should you care about any of this? Because (especially if, like me, you care about troubleshooting) you may want to keep up with Apple's latest missives about its products. This can allow you to be proactive—alerted to potential problems even before trouble strikes. It can also help you stay informed about Apple’s work-arounds, solutions you might not otherwise know exist. For example, if you were concerned about iOS 8.0.1’s “loss of cellular service” bug, checking a “recently modified articles” listing would have quickly alerted you to Apple's official response.

In the absence of such a list, you might still locate the desired information via a Google search or by checking various Apple-focused websites and forums. But an Apple-supplied listing would be the most direct, most reliable, and fastest way to keep up-to-date.

Aside from doing a search, the main way to use Apple’s Support site to discover KB articles is by selecting one of the items on the main page and navigating the subsequent path. For example, if you select the iPhone item, an iPhone Support page loads. From here, you can choose among several sub-items—such as iPhone Essentials, Syncing, or Features & Apps. Select one and you will get a short list of relevant KB articles. When I selected Features & Apps, the resulting list included articles such as Use Health on your iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 8 and Connect your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch using Continuity. Select any of these and the text of the KB article loads.

There is nothing wrong with this approach. But the listings typically do not include newly-released or especially timely articles. For example, many iPhone 5 owners found they did not have enough space on their phone to do an OTA (over-the-air) update to iOS 8. In this case, Apple recommends updating from iTunes on a Mac as a work-around—as noted in a recently modified KB article. Unfortunately, you won’t find this article via any of the posted navigation paths.

At this point you may be asking: Why did Apple drop the “recently modified articles” list? What, from Apple’s perspective, could be the downside of maintaining the KB article? Not surprisingly, Apple hasn’t offered any answer. I can’t imagine that they have a good one. Perhaps (as I speculated previously) Apple PR is concerned about encouraging negative publicity if Apple makes it too easy to find out about the latest bugs and related trouble with their products. Perhaps there was a time when Apple was inclined to think like that. Perhaps there was a time when it even made some sense. But, given Apple’s increased openness in the post-Jobs era, and given the inevitably that these reports find their way to news websites anyway, I would like to believe Apple no longer feels compelled to go down this road. Sadly, Apple's recent decision would argue otherwise.

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