By Jim Karpen on Sat, 04/27/2013
Every iPhone and iPad user occasionally has questions about using his or her device. Often a quick Google search will answer the question. But if not, then consider getting help online. I'm always impressed by the online communities of people who are sincerely eager to help you with any question or problem you might have. In Apple's support forums, questions are often answered within minutes. In this post I want to encourage you to get help whenever you have the slightest question and to direct you to some of the most helpful communities. You'll get so much more out of your device if you get in the habit of asking questions.
The best place to ask a question may be Apple’s support communities. The number of Apple enthusiasts prowling the forums at all times eager to answer your questions is amazing.
There are forums for each of Apple's devices, and for each device the forums are further divided into categories such as apps, Airplay, camera, getting started, mail, syncing, WiFi, and more. Note that there’s also a support community for iTunes.
To ask a question, simply type it into the prominent box at the top of the overview page and click “Submit my question to the community.” Note, though, that if you haven’t yet logged in, you’ll first be asked to do so. Apple makes it really easy by letting you simply log in using your iTunes account name and password. You’ll also need to select a username that will be associated with the questions you ask. Once you're logged in, you can also click the link at right that says, “Start a discussion.” In each case, you’ll be presented with a checklist so that you can specify which categorized discussion your question will appear in.
The page also contains a link at right, “Learn more about asking questions,” that walks you through the steps of asking a question.
Apple’s communities have some very useful features, such as the ability to bookmark your questions so when you return it’s easy to find your question again to see if it’s been answered. Also, by default the system sends you an email notification whenever a response is posted.
Yahoo’s Apple-iPhone group also is a friendly and helpful discussion group. Although it’s named iPhone, in my experience members are open to questions about other iOS devices.
As with all Yahoo Groups, you can interact with it on the web or via email. Simply being able to fire off a question via email is a real convenience. However, if you’ve chosen the setting to receive emails, then you’ll also be receiving an email each time someone else asks or answers a question, which could be up to 10 emails a day. You can also set it so you receive all the messages just once a day in a digest, or you can set it to view the discussion only via the Web. The group is moderated, so you won’t get any spam or junk mail.
If you are not already a member, you have to sign up with Yahoo before you can interact with this group either online or via e-mail. However, you can read the archives online without having a Yahoo ID.
There’s also an iPad Yahoo Group which is quite active with anywhere from 20–100 messages a day. This too is a friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful community.
The iPod touch group is relatively inactive, so you may get more response to your iPod touch questions in the Apple-iPhone group.
MacRumors has 19 iDevice-related forums, most of which are very active. Be sure to check out the forum titled “iPhone Tips, Help and Troubleshooting.” Some questions receive dozens of replies, and most appear to be answered.
EverythingiCafe has 25 forums related to Apple gadgets and over 330,000 members. This is likely the largest iPhone- and iPad-related community other than Apple's. They even have forums for the Apple TV and the rumored iWatch.
iPhoneForums.net includes specific forums for each iPhone carrier: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, such that you can get help if your issue is carrier-related. There are also forums specific to each generation of iPhone.