Stop the Help Viewer Window from Hovering Over Everything Else in Mac OS X

Dec 13, 2012 - 4 Comments

Disable Help window floating above other windows

The Help Menu in OS X is an underused but great resource when trying to learn about new Mac apps, and it can even function as a keyboard-based action launcherto quickly access app features. If you’re using the Help Viewer to actually read help documentation though, you may have noticed that the windows default behavior is to hover over everything else, even if it no longer has the focus. While that makes a certain level of sense, it can be frustrating if you’re on a smaller screen or you just want to be able to treat a documentation window as anything else, letting it go behind other app windows. A quick defaults write command will allow you to do exactly that.

To enable Help and documentation windows to float and behave like normal windows, launch Terminal in /Applications/Utilities and enter the following defaults write command:

defaults write com.apple.helpviewer DevMode -bool true

Hit return, changes should take effect immediately without having to quit any apps.

To reverse the change and have the Help viewer window behave as it did before, always on top of everything else, use the following defaults write command instead:

defaults write com.apple.helpviewer DevMode -bool false

This works in OS X Mountain Lion, Lion, Snow Leopard, and even earlier versions of Mac OS X.

Stop the hovering Help viewer in Mac OS X

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

4 Comments

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  1. Jan says:

    Does not work for me, even using sudo. 10.8.2, i7 iMac.

  2. diane says:

    Perfect!

  3. Aberto I says:

    Good! Thanks

  4. Uncle Tod says:

    Works great for me! I’ve been looking for something like this for ages.

    Now if only there were some similar commands to make such behavior universal to keep assorted dialog boxes from taking over tops spot on the screen. I do a lot of typing while looking at paper and therefore I’m not looking at the screen more than 40% of the time. It really bugs me when I’ve typed several hundred words only to look up and find some dialog box (little snitch, for instance, but there are many others) that took control of my input and everything after it popped up is lost.

    If anyone has such a solution, I’d love to hear about it.

    thanks!

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