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Aaack!! HELP!

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Aaack!! HELP!

From Chapter 36 of The Little Mac Book, Seventh Edition, by Robin Williams

This list doesn't pretend to be an all-inclusive reference for every sort of catastrophe that may befall you; rather, it is a compilation of the most common, simple problems one may encounter when first beginning to work on a Macintosh, and their most common, simple solutions.

The Help Menu

You've surely noticed by now the Help item in your menu bar. This is actually quite a useful resource for all kinds of questions, not just for your Mac but for many of your applications. The question mark icon you see in many control panels is a direct link to the same Help files you can get from the Help menu. Also in the Help menu you see an option to "Show Balloons," which are sometimes useful (often not). Let's take a look at the ways this Help menu can offer you answers.

Apple's Help Guide

Apple installed a Help guide in your Mac. If you haven't removed it or turned off the Apple Guide extension, then it should be working. You can access it in several ways:

Figure 1 Wherever you see these icons, click on them to get the help files for that topic.

  • At the Desktop, choose "Help" from the Help menu.

  • At the Desktop, press Command ?

  • Whenever you see a question mark icon (shown to the above), click on it.

The guide is very easy to use and quite self-explanatory. Sometimes the information is really great; sometimes it's not so great. Sometimes they leave out steps that are very important. As you use it, watch for the big red circle it draws around the items it wants you to pay attention to or do something with.

Check the Help menu in your applications

Many applications now have great and extensive help files. Often you can press Command ? and you'll get a big question mark cursor, then use that question mark to click on menu items or dialog boxes and get the specific help section for that item. Try it in your favorite application.

If Command ? doesn't work, try the Help menu (Figure 2) to get the application's help files (Figure 3). Anything you see underlined is a link to more information; click the link to go to that information. You'll usually find buttons like "Index," "Contents," or "Topics," and edit boxes where you can enter "Keywords" to find something in particular. Click them, type what you are looking for, click a link, etc., and you'll be amazed at what you can learn.

Balloon Help

Balloon Help is available not only on the Desktop, but in just about any application.

  • From the Help menu, choose "Show Balloons." (Figure 4)

  • Now move your cursor over the screen and see what pops up. Some applications have incorporated Balloon help right in the program so you can slide down menu lists or palettes and get balloons for commands. Not all applications use balloons.

  • To turn off the Balloons, from the Help menu choose "Hide Balloons."

Figure 5 Sometimes the balloons provide useful information.

Figure 6 Huh? Sometimes they are not so helpful.

Figure 7 Try balloons in menu items, both at the Desktop and in your favorite application.

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