How To Make Help Viewer Behave Like Regular Windows [100 Tips #53]

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It’s a safe bet that most Cult of Mac readers – and certainly all the Cult of Mac writers – are broadly in favour of almost everything Apple creates.

Almost everything.

If there’s one feature of OS X (Snow) Leopard that drives me and every other Mac user I’ve ever known mad with fury, it’s the Help Viewer, and its obstinate insistence on floating on top of every other window in sight.

The Help Viewer is the window that appears in most apps when you type something in the Help Menu.

By default, it floats above everything. Often, it covers up the very thing you’re trying to get help about. It doesn’t behave like all the other windows on your desktop, it seems to live in a world of its own.

Thankfully there’s a way to make it behave itself.

Open Terminal (type “Terminal” into the Spotlight search box to find it) and paste this line in:

defaults write com.apple.helpviewer DevMode -bool true

… then press Return. From now on, Help Viewer windows should behave like regular windows.

To undo your change, paste this into Terminal and hit Return:

defaults delete com.apple.helpviewer DevMode

If you don’t like the idea of mucking about inside Terminal, get your hands on Secrets, the free prefpane add-on we mentioned in our 50 Mac Essentials series, which will let you Help Viewer’s behaviour with a simple checkbox.

(You’re reading the 53rd post in our series, 100 Essential Mac Tips And Tricks For Windows Switchers. These posts explain to OS X beginners some of the most basic and fundamental concepts of using a Mac. Find out more, or Grab the RSS feed.)