Use the Help Menu to Get to App Documentation

The Help menu in Mac apps can be used to access app documentation. Some Apple apps come with extensive documentation that users do not realize even exists. You can search the documentation, or read through it by topic to discover features.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Use the Help Menu to Get to App Documentation.

I want to start a three episode look at one of the most overlooked features of Mac OS which is the Help menu. The simple Help menu that's always there at the right side of all the menu items at the top of your Mac. It changes depending upon what app you're running.

The Help menu is so useful and there are three different ways which I can identify that it's very useful that people overlook. The first way is that it is a gateway to documentation for the software on your Mac. That's right! There's actually documentation. A lot of people say you know Macs don't have documentation. You just kind of hunt around and figure out how to use things. But there are actually these great docs that you can get to for just about every Mac app.

So let's start with something like Pages. I'm going to switch to Pages here and in the Help menu I can go to Pages Help. You'll find this menu item just about with every standard Mac app and a lot of third party apps as well where it just has the name of the app and Help.

When you select it, it will take you to a screen that looks like this and you can do an Overview or Show Topic. You jump into Show Topics and you get a nice list here on the left of all sorts of topics and subtopics and you can get all sorts of information about how to use that app. You can read through this all, if you want, and get a really good understanding of it. It works in lots of different apps.

So, for instance, let's switch to some others like say you want to look into how to use Calendar a little bit better. Go into Calendar, Help, Calendar Help and sure enough you get the same thing here. Show Topics. There's all sorts of information here about using Calendar. You can go to each part of it and read about it.

Of course you can do searches and it will actually search inside of this. But for a lot of people, myself included, sometimes I really want to just have a table of contents, be able to look through it, maybe discover new features, or maybe find an answer to something that I don't quite know how to ask. I don't know what it's called so I want to kind of look through a table of contents to figure out what it is and how to do it.

In Contacts you can go to Contacts Help. The same thing here. You've got your information here on the left and you can dig down to learn how to use it. This goes for tons of different apps. There's some really interesting ones for Messages, for instance. Lots of interesting topics in there. They'll give you all sorts of hints on how to better use Messages. Mail of course. Go in here and there are tons of different topics here about using Mail.

So I encourage you the next time you're trying to get more into an app or learn how to do something to go to the Help menu. Go to the main topic there and look through the table of contents or at least use Search to kind of dig in and find out what you can about the app and how to use it.

So one last thing I want to show you is if you go to the Finder, you're running the Finder, go to Help and you won't see Finder Help you'll see Mac Help. Then under Mac Help you get a full Mac OS Overview or Topics. Then Topics takes you to all sorts of things that have to do with the Finder and other parts of the Mac. So that's kind of an overall documentation for basically generally using your Mac. You can even go into Apps here and then from Apps you can go into individual Help for each app. So it's kind of a gateway to get to documentation for other apps as well if you start with the Finder's Help.

Comments: One Response to “Use the Help Menu to Get to App Documentation”

    2 years ago

    I don’t understand :-(
    In your video, Help seems so fast.
    On my Mac, it’s soooo slooowwwww that I don’t use it !
    (and it was always so)

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