Help for Help Viewer

Reader Russ Pixler writes about a problem with Apple's Help Viewer. Specifically...

When I open Help Viewer, I get this error message: "The application Help Viewer has unexpectedly quit. The system and other applications have not been affected." I have no Help with my PowerBook G4 Titanium. My operating system is 10.2.8. What should I do to get it working again?

For reasons best known to Apple, Help Viewer tends to be more prone to these kinds of problems than other applications. Fortunately, there are a limited number of things that can cause such problems. Let's run through them:

1. Corrupted preferences.

Follow this path ~/Library/Preferences (where ~ is your user folder) and toss out the com.apple.help.plist, com.apple.helpui.plist, and com.apple.helpviewer.plist files. If preference corruption was the problem, Help Viewer should work when you relaunch it.

2. Corrupted cache.

Okay, so trashing the prefs files didn't help. Try trashing the help viewer's cache folder (called com.apple.helpui), which can be found at ~/Library/Caches.

3. Check for bad help files.

Not all help files were created equally -- meaning most work, but some don't. In Jaguar you'll find third-party help files by following this path: /Library/Documentation/Help. Remove any third-party help files and try launching Help Viewer again. If it works correctly, one of the help files you've removed is funky. Try the add-one-at-a-time-and-relaunch-Help-Viewer trick to track down the culprit.

4. Upgrade Palm Desktop

Palm Desktop 4.0's help file can crash Help Viewer. Upgrade to Palm Desktop 4.1 to solve the problem.

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