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When Help won't work (10.4/5)

Have you ever tried to access Help - Help with OS X rather than Help in an application - and not been able to get it? This situation can occur if you use a MacBook away from the home or office and there is a WiFi connection available, but it's not a free one. For example, suppose you are sitting in Starbucks drinking a nice cup of coffee in the UK. There's a WiFi connection, but to access the internet you have to log in and pay to use it using a credit card (it's 5 for one hour - that's $10!). You obviously don't want to do that.

Mac OS X helpWhen you access Help, OS X tries to be extra helpful and download the latest help information from Apple online. Actually, this is not very helpful at all in the situation described above and you either get nothing and a blank page appears in Help or you simply get the WiFi provider's login page or even an error message. No help is available and you're stuck. What can you do?

It can be really difficult getting help topics to appear, even though there is offline help documentation stored on your Mac's hard disk drive. Sometimes you can get a help topic if you enter a search term in the OS X search box that's displayed under the Help menu (in 10.5). However, you can still sometimes get an error, blank page or WiFi login page instead of the actual help topic.

Turning off your AirPort WiFi connection can sometimes prove useful though. Click the WiFi icon in the menu bar and select Turn AirPort off. You might then be able to to get a help topic to display. There isn't much else you can do and the Mac's help system just doesn't work properly without an internet connection.

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