Preventing Help window from staying on top

In Mac OS X Leopard, the Help Viewer application is built to display windows above other windows. This allows users to always be able to view help contents while the help window is open, but it can be annoying since the window will cover work windows.

In Mac OS X Leopard, the Help Viewer application is built to display windows above other windows. This allows users to always be able to view help contents while the help window is open, but it can be annoying since the window will cover work windows.

Apple Discussions poster Nina R writes:

"I've tried to use Mac Help to get some information about using Time Machine to restore files, and I cannot get any of my other application windows to come to the front while a Help window is open. The Help window insists on staying on top of everything else."

This window behavior is normal for OS X Leopard, because the Help Viewer is a separate application that just displays requested help documents and is kept on top to ensure the help files are viewable. This window behavior can be toggled by a hidden preferences setting, and as with many hidden preferences, users will need to apply them using a specific "defaults write" command in the terminal.

Fix: Set the "NormalWindow" preference to true Open the Terminal and enter the following command:

  • defaults write com.apple.helpviewer NormalWindow -bool true

This command will make the Help Viewer window behave like a normal one. However, since the help viewer is a separate application, the windows will not be tied to the application for which the help viewer was invoked. Therefore if users switch applications the help viewer may get lost behind other windows. If this behavior is not desired, users may reverse this by entering the same command with "false" at the end instead of "true", as follows:

  • defaults write com.apple.helpviewer NormalWindow -bool false

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