New to Mac? How to use the built-in Mac Help system

How to use the Mac Help system - MacBook

When you’re getting familiar with your new Mac, there are times when even simple things can be hard to figure out. And you may not have the time to search the web for an answer. Luckily, macOS comes with a built-in Help feature that works really well.

Whether you want more details on how to use a feature or help finding a menu option, Mac’s Help system is there. We’ll show you how to access Help, what you can do with it, and some tips for using it.

The built-in Mac Help system

Opening Help on Mac

When you have Finder open, you can access the Help system from your menu bar, all the way to the right. If you have an app open, the Help button in the menu bar will take you to the help topics specific to that app instead.

Mac Finder Help Menu Bar

You can also access Help for certain sections in your System Preferences. If there is help available, you’ll see a question mark in the lower right corner of the window. The topics you see when you click the button will relate to the specific section you’re viewing.

For instance, if you open System Preferences, select Mouse, and choose Point & Click, when you click the question mark, the Help topics you see are for that exact area of Point & Click for your Mouse.

Mac Help Mouse Preferences

Using Help in the menu bar

Obviously, when you click Help from the menu bar, you can pop in a search term. You also have the option to open macOS Help, if you prefer. But most times, using a keyword to search for what you need will get you the results you seek. Just click when you see what you need and the Help window will open.

Search Help Menu Bar

If the item you’re searching for is an option within the menu, you’ll see this and exactly where it resides when move your cursor over the item.

Help Menu Bar Finder

Using the Help window toolbar

When you have the Help window open, whether you open it with the button in the menu bar or question mark in System Preferences, you have some additional options.

In the Help window toolbar at the top, from left to right, you have arrows you can use to go back to the previous page or forward again.

Change Mouse Preferences Help

Next, you have a Table of Contents button. This is super handy for seeing an outline related to your search so you can jump to different areas if needed.

Mac Help TOC

If you’d like to share something from the Help section, the next button gives you your default sharing options. So if you’re helping out a friend or family member, you can share the Help topic with them.

Mac Help Share

Finally, you have a search box. If you want to look for something completely different or try to narrow down your search, just pop a word or phrase into the box and you’ll see suggestions.

Mac Help Search

You’ll notice as you’re using the Help system that some words or phrases are linked (blue). And where you are directed when you click a link may change.

Some links have a dotted underline. Those will show you a preview of what the word or phrase is referring to.

Help Link and Preview

Other links will take you to another section of the Help system if there is a topic dedicated to it.

Help Link to Section

And still other links will open things for you such as the settings in System Preferences.

Help Link to Preferences

So, pay attention to those linked words and phrases for additional help within the Help system.

Wrapping it up

The built-in Help system on macOS is there for you when you need it. It offers a ton of information about most anything you need on your Mac. And if you’re a new Mac user, it’s a great tool to keep in mind when you need a little help.

Have you checked out the Help system on your Mac yet and if so, has it answered your questions? Let us know your thoughts on the feature in the comments below!

For related articles for new Mac users, check out how to use tags with files and folders or organize your desktop more efficiently.