Using Leopard’s Help System

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the April, 2008, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Ben Balser sent in the following:

I was just taught about Leopard’s new Help system by my buddy Tim, an Apple sales engineer. This is so cool, and it works in pretty much any application. For the FCS apps, this is really helpful!



We all know that you can access the user manuals by going to the Help menu. But in Leopard you’ll also see a Spotlight field. Spotlight is the search function that has always been a part of OS X.


So instead of clicking on the “user manual” to bring it up, when you go to the Help menu, simply type a term you need to know about in the Spotlight field, and that’s all. Don’t press enter or click on anything.


When you do, a list will appear below that replaces the user manual menu with 2 categories in a new list: Menu Items, and Help Topics.

Menu Items


Then simply move your mouse cursor over one of the entries on that list, and guess what happens? It will drop the appropriate menu and sub menus, and an arrow will float there pointing to that function in the menu. (Yes, it floats, it bobs, its cool!)


And if you can automatically see where the function is in the menu, you can instantly see the keyboard shortcut (if any) for that menu function, also!

Help Topics


Below the menu entries will be a list of entries in the user manual (for apps that support on-line user manuals). You can simply click on one to open the user manual to that entry.


I’m attaching a couple of screen shots from some apps to show you. This works in pretty much ALL apps. From what I understand, this is also a programmable thing to some extent, so that software programmers can do some cool stuff with this function, but don’t hold my feet to the fire on that statement.


Final Cut Pro 6


Here’s an example of the help system inside Final Cut Pro 6.




And here’s another example, this time inside Compressor.


This also works with third party plug-ins in FCP and with non-Apple apps like Studio Artist.


This is pretty cool!
Larry replies: Thanks, Ben, for sharing this!


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