How to Use the macOS Help Menu

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Jan 16, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The ever-present Help menu in your Mac's menu bar is an easily overlooked aspect of macOS, but it's home to some surprising and extremely handy features that every user can benefit from.


    Apart from being a useful first port of call for any queries you may have about the application in use or your Mac in general, it also serves as a menu navigator. Let's take a closer look.

    How to Use the Mac Help Menu

    You can use the keyboard shortcut Command-Shift-/ to quickly access the macOS Help Menu. At the top of the Help menu is a Search field for typing in the subject you need help with. Below this, you'll also see a direct link to the help documentation for the currently active application, which is useful for looking up topics manually.


    If it's an Apple app you're using, search results come from the official macOS User Guide, while the direct help link below the search field takes you straight to the relevant section of the guide, or in the case of Finder, the main contents page.


    It's important to remember that if the active app is a third-party one, the contents of the Help menu can differ depending on how much effort the developer has put into it. For example, some apps may include FAQs, manuals, or links to online help, while others may offer very little.

    How to Use Help's Action Search Feature

    Another neat built-in feature of the Help menu is its ability to point to available actions in other menus for the currently active app.


    Next time you type into the Help menu's Search field, check to see if the results include any Menu Items. Hover over one of these with your mouse, and macOS will locate the action for you by pointing an arrow at it in the corresponding menu. Hit Enter, and the action will be performed for you.


    Depending on the app, this feature can even extend to contextual menu functions. For instance, you can use Safari's Help field to search your bookmarks and recent browsing history for keywords to quickly navigate back to web pages. Next time you're in your favorite app, try out its Help menu functions to see how deeply they've been implemented.

    Article Link: How to Use the macOS Help Menu
  2. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    How to call Apple Support.
    How to read MacRumors help articles.
    How to read English.
  3. szw-mapple fan macrumors 65816

    szw-mapple fan

    Jul 28, 2012
    The help menu search is one of my favorite things about macOS. You can just hit the keyboard shortcut and start typing what you want. Really handy when you want something quickly without knowing which menu it’s under.
  4. TheFluffyDuck macrumors 6502

    Jul 26, 2012
  5. edgonzalez32, Jan 16, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2019

    edgonzalez32 macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2011
    Don't bash. When I first got a Mac In 07, after graduating hs, I had no one to show me how to do the simplest of tasks. And I know my way around a computer.

    Tips like these are valuable to almost anyone. If they're not to you, there's no reason to be rude.
  6. Unity451 macrumors regular


    Aug 29, 2011
    honestly one of my favorite Mac OS features.
  7. sailmac macrumors 6502


    Jan 15, 2008
    These articles may seem trivial to users who already know the commands, tips, and tricks being explained. In my case, I've been using Macs regularly since 1990 and appreciate learning things I didn't know, along with reminders about things I've forgotten. Thanks, MR.
  8. edgonzalez32 macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2011
    Anytime I see a how to post from anywhere, I check it out. Who knows what I can learn from it.
  9. CreatorCode macrumors regular


    Apr 15, 2015
    Honestly, the problem is not that the Help menu is hard to use; the problem is that the people who need it (and that sometimes includes me) don't think to check it.

    Some of that is learned helplessness, since the Help menu is sometimes a useless dictionary of tautologies. ("So the Reticulate Splines command...oh, look, it says here that it reticulates splines. Neat!")
  10. MEJHarrison macrumors 65816

    Feb 2, 2009
    I know how to use a search box.
    I didn't know the keyboard shortcut.
    I didn't know about showing menu items.

    It sounded like a lame article, but it was worth the read for me.
  11. amyers macrumors newbie


    Feb 13, 2012
    Search is king if you’ve ever used any Adobe software. Main reason I hate using illustrator or indesign on Windows..
  12. MacHiavelli macrumors 65816


    May 17, 2007
    new york
    According to Apple, you're inadvertently giving key commands incorrectly. For Help, it should be COMMAD QUESTION MARK, not COMMAND SHIFT SLASH. This (1) makes sense as the user wants to ask a question in looking for help, and (2) the slash and the question mark aren't always positioned together on all keyboards, so telling people to type COMMAND SHIFT SLASH might well lead them up a blind alley.

  13. Futurix macrumors 6502


    Nov 22, 2011
    I didn't know that it can search menu items - that's very useful, thank you!
  14. Princess Cake macrumors 6502

    Princess Cake

    Jan 15, 2010
    St. Louis
    I don't understand how to use this "How to Use the macOS Help Menu." Can someone help me? Preferably using single-syllable words that wouldn’t confuse a second grader?

    Frankly I don't understand how I got here... this internet is a big and scary place!

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