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Leopard: Trying to love Help Viewer's new fascist behavior

Unlike other less-helpful systems, the Mac's Help Viewer app has been seen as the model for answering questions from newbies and sophisticated users alike. But in Leopard, the program's new behavior is hateful to many.
Written by David Morgenstern, Contributor

Unlike other less-helpful systems, the Mac's Help Viewer app has been seen as the model for answering questions from newbies and sophisticated users alike. But in Leopard, the program's new behavior is hateful to many.

However, a recent post offers a command-line fix.

When you invoke Help Viewer in Leopard its window appears on the desktop. It looks like the usual helpful interface we've come to know and love. But it's now a tyrant: no window from any application, including the Finder, can move in front of Help Viewer. Help Viewer is now the boss of that desktop real estate whether you like it or not.

Of course, this new action can cause some confusion, especially for those of us who have grown up in a freer windowing interface on the Mac.

The Help Viewer window may cover up other windows on the desktop. When this happened to me, I used Expose to reveal all windows and then clicked on the small iChat window I wanted. But Help Viewer rules and won't let the hidden window come to the front. Only after I moved Help Viewer aside could I then gain access to the chat window.

My guess is that the Leopard UI designers wanted to make sure that users got their help. If someone needs help enough to launch Help Viewer, then the Mac will make sure they get the Help they need. And remember that Help can connect users directly with preferences and settings.

No doubt, some of the utilities that can tweak hidden UI settings, such as Tinkertool, OnyX, Cocktail and Mac Pilot, will soon be able to change the behavior of Help Viewer windows. However, in the meantime, a recent reader post on Mac OS X Hints provides a fix using the Interface Builder utility (found on the Leopard installer DVD in the Programmer's Tools folder) and then a command-line replacement.

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