Creating a help book for a MacOS application

The process to create an help book for a MacOS is not very well documented. The available documentation is old and archived: link.

From that old documentation and some of the information found on the Apple Developer Forum I was able to create an Help book for a SwiftUI application.

The book structure

Assume that the name of the application is XXX and the author has domain

Create The following structure:

Tree structure

The files in the directory English.lproj are the content. So a main page index.html which loads some logo from the file utl_download_9531nu_logo.svg and has a link to a secondary page mainPage.html. The content is fully free, it is just standard HTML and the main page doesn’t even have to be named index.html.

The file Info.plist has the following content:

Info plist content

Because the file is named Info.plist, the key names are translated to their textual meaning. If you temporarily rename this file to, e.g. XXX.plist it will reveal the actual key names:

Raw key names

Enabling the help

Just creating the help book doesn’t have any immediate effect. It must be enabled in the Info.plist of the application. Add the following two keys:

Enable the help

This file should already have other entries, but they are left out because they are not relevant for building a help book.

Create the index file

To make your help book searchable, you have to create a file named help.helpindex.

On the command line run, the following command:

hiutil -Cf

This will create the file help.helpindex:

Create the help index

Note that in order to make your index really searchable, your files should provide hints:





For more details see link

Installing the help

Finally, the help book must be copied when you build the application.

Install bundle

  1. Select the name of the project
  2. Select the proper target
  3. Select the build phases
  4. Install your help book as a bundle

Run the application

Finally run your application and check out your help page. There is no need to make any change in your application to enable the help book.

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