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A help system is a software component acting as documentation for a software package. It primarily describes and explains each program function, button, toolbar option or other element within the user interface.
A help system may also be known as a help file.
Most Windows programs show their help system when a user presses the F1 key. The help system may be comprised of several tabs. These usually show the program index, a table of contents and a search tool allowing the user to quickly locate the help content relevant to searched keywords.
If a help system is not located on the computer hard drive, it may be online. This allows developers to release the software package early and continue to update the help system. Additionally, online help systems allow developers to link a software help tool with other resources, such as forum posts and code projects. The latter is often done when the software is also a development tool.