Move 10.5’s help windows to different spaces

If you use help in OS X 10.5, you’re probably aware that the help window now floats in front of every other window, often obscuring the very thing you’re trying to get help with. We ran a recent hint that explained how to move help windows to the background, but there’s still an annoying behavior for those who use Spaces: the help window, regardless of whether it’s in the foreground or the background, cannot be easily moved to another space.

If you’ve used the above hint to move help windows to the background, when you drag them to the edge of the screen, they’ll temporarily “pop” into the next space, but then immediately pop back before you have a chance to release the mouse. If you’re using help in its default form, nothing at all happens when you move the window to the edge of the screen. So how can you move the help window to another space?

Assuming you’re using help in its stock (always frontmost) form, the only way I’ve found to move the help window into another space is to minimize it—and you’ll have to do so by clicking the yellow button, as it won’t respond to the Command-M keyboard shortcut. Once the help window is in your Dock, switch to the space you’d like the window to reside in, then click the help window in the dock to release it. It will spring into the new space and stay there.

If you’ve used the above-linked hint to make the help window move into and out of the foreground when clicked, the minimization trick won’t work—the window will spring back into the space where it started. However, one added benefit of using the above hint is that the help windows will now show up in Exposé and the Spaces overview window. So if you’re using the above hint, the easiest way to move a help window to another space is to make sure it’s visible on your screen, then press F8 to enter Spaces’ overview mode. Find the help window, and drag it to the desired space. When released, it will stay there; press F8 again to exit Spaces’ overview mode, and you’re done.

I really hope Apple understands the amount of trouble the changes in help are causing the user base; if so, perhaps we’ll see changes in a future system update. Until then, though, I’m relying on these hints to make the system more usable.

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