macOS: Use Terminal to Send Help Viewer to the Back

1 minute read
| Quick Tip

You know what’s annoying? This.

Mac Help Window blocking other apps on the Desktop

No, not the Help Viewer itself! I love the Mac’s built-in support info, actually, which you can get to by choosing “Help” from the menus at the top of any program.

The Help menu is accessible in most all Mac apps

If you have a question or a problem, that’s always a great place to start, and it’s often more convenient than even doing a Web search. There is one tiny thing that’s always irritated me, though, and that’s the fact that the Help Viewer window pictured in my first screenshot always sits on top of everything else. Even if you switch programs, it’ll stay in front until you close it. Frustrating, especially when you’re attempting to try out a solution that the help pages suggest!

There is, though, a way to change this behavior through the Terminal. To do so, copy the following command…

defaults write com.apple.helpviewer DevMode -bool YES

…and paste it into the Terminal program, which lives in your Applications > Utilities folder, like so:

Terminal Window showing the command to let the Mac Help Viewer window sit behind other apps

When the command is pasted in, press Return, and then the Help Viewer window will behave just like most of the other windows on your Mac—if you click on another window or program, it’ll move to the background.

Mac Help Viewer Window Behind other apps

You can’t tell, but that really is the help window back there. I promise.

Finally, if you decide you want to put things back the way they were, just go back to Terminal, replace the “YES” with “NO” in the command, and press Return:

defaults write com.apple.helpviewer DevMode -bool NO

Silly Help Viewer. You’ll go where I want you to be, even if I have to use Terminal to force you to.

2 Comments Add a comment

  1. furbies

    Thanks Melissa.

    In Yosemite (and earlier) I did this trick with terminal, but El Capitan somehow broke it, and back when, the then current Terminal command didn’t work.

    So thanks !

    🖖

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