Sometimes pushpull extrudes; other times it makes a hole. Why?

Mostly all of the videos I’ve seen show the tool bar at left of the screen, often in 2 columns

It depends upon the direction you move the cursor. It also depend on the face orientation.

Could be. Most likely the author has the Large Toolbar displayed or else they’ve made a couple of custom toolbars that are positioned side by side.

Sorry to bother everyone. I did a little example, and found that only if the amount
extruded exactly equals the thickness of the material, then it makes a hole. When this is easy to see, one stops, or goes back to make the hole, so I never did get it understood properly. But often it is not easy to see. Then, you must manually enter the precise thickness of the piece in order to have it make a hole.

Of course, this is true. Are you expecting something else? You can either enter the exact distance or you can reference off of geometry at the desired end of the extrusion.

Or reference off the opposite side.
push

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