Ideally, people can figure out how to use your app without a guide. However, even in a highly intuitive app, users sometimes need help learning advanced and secondary features. When called for, your app can offer assistance in the form of help tags and Apple Help. Help tags allow you to provide temporary, context-sensitive help, whereas Apple Help allows you to provide a more thorough discussion of a topic or task.
Avoid restricting user actions. Unless you’re creating a children’s app in which it can be appropriate to restrict the user’s scope of action, let people do what they want without unnecessary interference. For related guidance, see Onboarding and Providing User Feedback.
Help Tags (Tooltips)
Help tags, often referred to as tooltips, succinctly describe how to use controls without shifting people’s focus away from the primary interface. Help tags appear when the user positions the pointer over a control for a few seconds. For example, Finder displays a help tag that describes the behavior of the Share toolbar button. A help tag remains visible for 10 seconds, or until the pointer moves away from the control.
Apple Help lets your app provide detailed, task-oriented documentation through Help Viewer, a browser-like app designed for displaying and searching help topics. Help topics can include text, images, videos, and context-sensitive content that’s stored locally or remotely. Apple Help is accessed using an app’s Help menu, from contextual menus, and by clicking Help buttons in the app’s interface. While the Help menu (which includes an integrated search field) provides access to all of an app’s help documentation, help buttons and contextual menus can be mapped directly to specific topics.
Provide task-based help. People look for help when they can’t figure out how to accomplish a goal. Although users sometimes want a quick reference guide, they’re more likely to seek help with specific tasks. In general, describe control usage in the context of accomplishing a task.
Use the system-provided Help Viewer app. Help Viewer is familiar and provides a consistent browsing experience across the system. When people look for help, it’s usually because they are having difficulty accomplishing a task, which means they might be frustrated. This isn’t a good time to make them learn a help viewing mechanism that differs from the one they use in all their other apps.
Only display a Help button in a window when contextually relevant help is available. Help content is always accessible from the Help menu, so it’s unnecessary for every one of your app’s windows to include a Help button.