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If you select Help from the Finder, and then Mac Help (the only choice), you get the standard "What is your question?" box, with a few blurbs about OS X. However, I noticed tonight that the "back" arrow is lit, which seemed odd given that I'd just opened Help.

If you click Back, you'll be taken to the Help Center screen, which shows all the help files that have been installed on your machine. On my box, for example, I see BBEdit Help, DragThing Help, and the Developer Help Center (which I never knew was there!). From there, clicking on any one of them takes you to that appplication's help files without opening the application first.
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User Opaque?
Authored by: lloydsargent on Apr 24, '01 10:26:37AM
Yet one more example of the trend away from user friendly. "Opaque systems", as some have referred to them, tend to have buttons (that you can't tell are buttons) and features that you don't know are there. It is like having million book library with no card catalog, no Dewey Decimal system, no order of any sort.

I don't think it is intentional. Yes, trying to break away from the past to give "differing" (as opposed to different) functionality was the attempt, despite the fact we really were pretty happy with the technology as it was. After all, Apple was first in many areas that took other companies years to catch up to (and some have yet to reach it).

So why on one hand do we have the, as some view it, "dumbing down" of the system on one hand and the requirement of "secret" keystrokes (for booting into single user mode) on the other?

Part of it has to do with scope. Apple had to take a "developer oriented" system and turn it into something that Mom and Pop could use. As such, a LOT of shortcuts have been made, many not so pretty. Others have been pretty darn impressive. But still we run into a LOT of "user opaque" operations - such as this back-arrow on help (I never noticed it!). Which interestingly enough gives me the ability to run help in Japanese! A bit on the useless side for me and most people in North America!

On the other hand things like the desktop, which many people apparently do not use, has icons on it that I can read from 20 feet away (on a 21" monitor at 1280 x 1024!). Nothing I have found seems to alter their size except booting into OS 9.1 (not really an option!). Worse, the use of a photo of a "naked" hard drive to represent volumes is pretty bad. Most people, except the truly dedicated hacker, seldom have seen a bare hard drive. This especially makes little sense when there are multiple partitions on a single physical drive. (And why, oh why, does Script Runner look like a V2 rocket? Please explain THAT one to me!)

The issues I have with OS X in terms of User Interface are many - although I am probably one of the few that really like the Aqua interface - too some extent. Roll-over buttons, although "cool" pretty much defeat the point of making buttons look like buttons. The real world has few, if any, roll-over buttons. Imagine, if you will, a commercial jet which had a blank display until the pilot moved the hand near the button. How responsive do you think the pilot would be in an emergency situation?

Overall, I would have to say that this is a good hint, and a much appreciated one. But it really points out areas that Apple needs to address in the next release.

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User Opaque?
Authored by: Anonymous on Apr 24, '01 09:23:49PM
But still we run into a LOT of "user opaque" operations - such as this back-arrow on help (I never noticed it!). Which interestingly enough gives me the ability to run help in Japanese! A bit on the useless side for me and most people in North America!

That Japanese link in the Help Center is not the equivelant of the Japanese Mac Help. It's a different help. To view your help (and indeed the entire system) in Japanese you would change your setting in International settings in the System Preferences. Try it, it's fun. ;)

On the other hand things like the desktop, which many people apparently do not use, has icons on it that I can read from 20 feet away (on a 21" monitor at 1280 x 1024!). Nothing I have found seems to alter their size except booting into OS 9.1 (not really an option!).

To change the size of the icons, you go to the Finder prefrences. (Which is the same location as the preferences for any app... in the Application menu for that app. In this case, under the Finder menu.) It's self-explanitory from there.

-cls

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Help Center
Authored by: Chas on Apr 24, '01 10:48:32AM

The Help Center is always one click away, just click on the little round button in the lower left corner with the question mark on it.



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Consider it the Home Page
Authored by: chrsbrwn on Apr 24, '01 05:54:20PM

Remember that Help Viewer is nothing more than a simplistic web browser...

Consider this the default index of Help Viewer; it's the listing of all help files that are installed.

On my system, it includes the help files for Quicken, AppleScript, the Developer tools (which bbedit uses as the default programmer's reference on Mac OS X... how cool is that?), the Mac OS help, iTunes and iMovie help, and QuickTime help.

The fastest way to get to it is to open the Help Viewer directly (that is, without choosing it from the menu)... if it isn't passed the parameter for a specific Help file, it opens to this page. You can open it from terminal with

open "/System/Library/CoreServices/Help Viewer.app"


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