Help tags—those little yellow rectangles of information that pop up when you hover your cursor over something—do more than just provide the name and function of a button on a toolbar. Use them to find the full name of an abbreviated file name, to get a quick summary of a help topic, and more. Here are five of my favorite tricks.
1. See the full name of a file
Almost anywhere the Mac shortens a name in a narrow column, you can use a help tag to display its full name. Just hover your cursor over the truncated name in a list or sidebar in a Finder window, an Open or Save dialog box, or the Apple Mail message viewer window; this also works in the Source list (the sidebar-like area) in iPhoto.
2. Outwit false links in Mail
That embedded link in an innocent-looking email message may be labeled Important Info but actually take you to the website
http://punkedscam.org. Check the URL of a link by waiting for its help tag to pop up before you click on the link.
3. Quickly view Mail attachment names
You receive a message asking for immediate feedback regarding the “Solution” file—but the message came with six attachments, all of which have truncated names. You could click the message’s Save menu to see a list of the full names of attachments, but you don’t want to save the file and then open it in its parent application. You just want to take a quick look at it with Quick Look, if only you could figure out which one it is. No problem: Hover over the icon of an attached file to see its full name, along with other potentially useful information such as its download status. (Click on it to select it and then press the spacebar to open the Quick Look window.)
4. Read a topic description in Help
5. Easily get information from Font Book
Sometimes it seems to me that Font Book has more numerous, and more useful, help tags than any other Mac utility. Want to know how many fonts are in a library or collection without deselecting the current one? Point to the library name and the info appears in a help tag. Wondering how many typefaces are in a font but don’t want to select it in the Font list and expand it? Hover over the font family name to see the answer.
Long-time Mac author Sharon Zardetto’s current ebooks include, Take Control of Safari 5.