Fixing the Help Viewer

Like the old disposable razor sitting underneath your sink rusting in a puddle of expired NyQuil, Apple’s Help Viewer on Jaguar has some rough edges and you might not want to use it…

One problem is when links appear to break when viewing a documentation set that uses frames – basically when you click on a link on one side, the other side with the content doesn’t budge. This is usually caused by increasing the font size. Since the font pitch in this application tends to be so small, this is a normal thing one would want to do. Just decrease the font size back to the default, relegate yourself to using the Help docs in microprint, and it should at least function.

If that doesn’t work, you might need to delete your preferences. In this case, go in to ~/Library/Preferences and clobber com.apple.help.plist and com.apple.helpviewer.plist. I did this and it may have caused my help docs for my Chinese input method to break. Or that may have been broken all along. And all the stuff in the Help Center tray disappeared, but most of that seems to come back as I access each app’s help docs.

Another option is to open your help docs in a browser. To use Macromedia Dreamweaver MX as an example, open /Applications/Dreamweaver MX/Help/Using Dreamweaver MX/index.htm in your favorite web browser and all the stuff will be there. And then you have full control over font size, bookmarks, and all the other good browser features that should be in the Help Viewer application in the first place.

I hear that this thing is better in Panther, however. Any improvements here are greatly anticipated and welcomed.