Windows Mobile Tip: Context Sensitive Help

An image of the Windows Mobile start menu on a Windows Mobile 6 Professional DeviceDid you know that Windows Mobile applications have context sensitive help integrated into them? If so, congratulations, as I feel this is a reasonably unknown feature, even if it is right there in the Start Menu!

Within any application you can obtain context sensitive help for the current window by selecting the “Help” item from within the Windows Start Menu. Selecting this option will launch the help viewer application (peghelp.exe) and load a page specific to the current state of the application you are in.

A good place to see a demonstration of this feature is the Settings or Control Panel Applets part of the shell. As you switch between the various tabs and popup dialogs you will notice that each time you select the “Help” menu option a different help page, specific to the particular set of tasks you can achieve on the current dialog will be displayed.

An image of the Windows Mobile help viewer application on a Windows Mobile 6 Professional deviceAnother help feature of use is the search feature. Within the Windows Start Menu you will be able to find a “Programs” entry. Clicking on this will display a list of all currently installed applications. The one of interest to us is simply called “Search”.

The Search utility is most often used to search for documents, files and PIM data stored within Pocket Outlook. However it also searches help files. As an example search for “Delete” and you will get a bunch of references to help files, outlining how to delete digital certificates, delete folders, uninstall programs etc.

The Gotcha
Integrated help will not work within all third party applications. A developer of an application must write a small amount of additional support code within their application to support the feature, and since many application developers are not aware of this feature, it is of no great surprise that many applications don’t support it. When it’s not supported tapping on the “Help” menu entry within the Windows Start Menu will simply close the menu.

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