Open recent documents from the Help menu

You probably already know about the search box in the Help menu of virtually every Mac application. When you type some text in that box, the app will show you a list of entries in its help files that contain that term. But most apps will also present a list of menu items containing that string: Type print in that box, for example, and you’ll see a list of all the menu items related to printing—File -> Print and so on. If you select one of the entries in that list, the associated menu will open with that item highlighted.

Because of that last part, you can use the Help menu’s search box as an impromptu launcher. Last year, Macworld Senior Editor Dan Frakes explained how this works in your browser: Open the Help menu by typing Command-? (in other words, Command-Shift-/). Start typing the name of a website that you’ve visited or bookmarked in the search box, and you’ll see a list of matching entries in your history and bookmarks submenus. Select an item on that list and press Return, and the browser will open that site.

Hints reader mtaylorGT discovered a similar use for the Help menu search box: You can use it to find and then launch recently opened documents, too. The trick hinges on the fact that many apps have a File -> Open Recent menu item (or something like it). That menu includes document titles; you can therefore search for those titles from the Help box. When you do, you’ll see a list of matching documents. Scroll down that list and the app will show you that item’s entry in the Open Recent menu. Select the document you want from the list and press Return, and the app will open it.

Subscribe to the Best of Macworld Newsletter