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January 3, 2008

How to find out when a web page was last updated — J. D. Biersdorfer will sort you out in a New York Times minute


Ms. Biersdorfer's weekly Times Q&A about computer-based technology is usually about a million miles over my head.

Every now and then, though, she drops a pearl even a TechnoDolt™ can use.

Today's item is very cool, and follows.

"If you have a sneaking suspicion that the Web page you're looking at is old and stale, you can take a peek to see when it was last updated. In Internet Explorer or Firefox, just go to the address bar while the page is displayed and type in "javascript:alert(document.lastModified)" without the quotation marks. Hit the Enter key to see a box [top] that tells you when the page you're viewing was updated."

Full disclosure: I'm so stupid it took me a couple tries to do it successfully.

At first I typed in "javascript:alert(document.lastModified)" after www.bookofjoe.com in the address bar.

After that didn't work I tried just "javascript:alert(document.lastModified)" and bingo, there it was.

In my (admittedly weak) defense, I do believe Ms. Biersdorfer might have deigned to consider those of us at the bottom of the technology food chain and noted that we should first empty the address bar before typing in the magic characters.

But I quibble too much, I fear.

January 3, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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Thank you! I tested it on one page that I already knew the answer to. Your code gave me the current date and time (incorrect page update info). I then tested it on the page that I really didn't know the answer to, but had an idea. Your code gave me the correct info on the page that really mattered to me. Thank you. Thank you.

Posted by: Melissa | Dec 12, 2009 12:06:44 PM

Better an old noob than a jackass like you, "urgay"

Posted by: Lilorfnannie | Jan 1, 2009 1:53:30 PM

umm yea this is old by at least 3 years maybe four now. even in 2008 it was old, thanks gramps and granny

Posted by: urgay | Jan 1, 2009 5:48:34 AM

umm wow ur a n00b this is old

Posted by: urgay | Jan 1, 2009 5:39:21 AM

Only works if you programmed your site to do so. My site says it was updated right now -- but it hasn't been updated since before Christmas.

Posted by: clifyt | Jan 3, 2008 4:11:08 PM

for ease of use, it is possible to bookmark "javascript:alert(document.lastModified)" and just click it whenever the info is desired for a specific webpage, instead of having to remember what to type in the url every time. note, however, that you'll need to either make the url code bookmark separately by hand in the bookmarks manager (so it is neutral and doesn't associate it with a specific website) or with the browser pointed to a blank tab or page.

Posted by: johnjohn | Jan 3, 2008 3:06:04 PM

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