A predecessor of the tooltip which has existed on the Macintosh since time immemorial, or at least since System 7.5 or so. When Balloon Help is activated (in the Apple Guide or Help menu), all the menus, menu items, icons, and various other widgets belonging to Balloon-Help-aware applications will sprout speech balloons when the mouse cursor is over them. The speech balloon for a given widget will describe that widget's function: menus provide an overview of their contents; application icons in the Finder describe the application's use; and so forth.

The trouble with Balloon Help is that when it is on, lots of obvious and/or irrelevant things sprout balloons as well: for instance, the title bar of every window informs you that it is a title bar, and that you can drag it around to move the window. For this reason, many Macintosh users find Balloon Help utterly annoying, and never use it. Nevertheless, Balloon Help can be useful if you have to learn the functions of a new application quickly.

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