When you type text into the search box in the Help menu of any Mac app (in both Snow Leopard and Lion), you get a list of entries in its help files that contain the term you typed.

In most apps, you also see a list of menu items containing the search term. For example, type ‘print’ in the box, and you get a list containing File > Print and other menu items with the word ‘print’ in them.

If you select one of the menu-item entries in the list, the associated menu will open with the item highlighted. You can then press Return to activate it. Because of this, you can use the Help menu in many apps as an impromptu launcher.

Here’s another example you can try. In your web browser, open the Help menu (ideally by using the shortcut Cmd-Shift-/ [forward slash] instead of your mouse). In the search box, start typing the name of a website that you’ve visited or bookmarked. You can use the arrow keys to move down the list of matching entries; as you select a match, the History or Bookmarks submenu will open with that site selected. Press Return, and the browser will open that page.

If an app keeps a list of recently opened files, then you can use the Help menu to open them

You can use a similar trick to open recently used files. Many applications have a File > Open Recent menu item (or something like it) that includes document titles, so you can search for those from the Help box. Type a few letters of a filename to call up a list of recent items whose names contain the letters. Highlight an item in the list, and the app shows you its entry in the Open Recent menu. Select the document you want from the list, press Return, and the app will open it.