Windows Help Program (WinHlp32.exe) for Windows 7 x64 and Windows 7 x86

The Windows Help program or WinHlp32.exe is a Windows utility needed when you’re using old software containing “.hlp” help files. For example I was faced with this problem with the “.hlp” files when I first used Borland C++Builder 6 on Windows Vista / Windows Server 2008.

The winhlp32.exe packed with the Windows 7 RC for example is a 9.50 kB (9,728 bytes) file detailed with version 6.1.7100.0 (same version as Windows 7 RC itself) which is slightly different from what’s distributed with Windows Vista, a 9.00 kB (9,216 bytes) file detailed with version 6.0.6000.16386 (Vista Service Pack 2 in this example), where both stubbornly reject HLP files, showing the following dialog box:

Windows Help and SupportWhy can’t I get Help from this program?

[This content is preliminary and subject to change.]

The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn’t included in this version of Windows. However, you can download a program that will allow you to view Help created in the Windows Help format.

For more information, go to the Microsoft Help and Support website.

Starting with the release of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, Microsoft has decided to no longer include in WinHlp32.exe as a component of the Windows operating system. Microsoft made this decision because WinHlp32.exe has not had a major update for many years, and it does not meet their standards for all new Microsoft programs. Microsoft realizes that this may cause some problems for customers who want to upgrade to Windows Vista or to Windows Server 2008 but still rely on 32-bit .hlp files. Therefore, Microsoft is making WinHlp32.exe available as a download from the Microsoft Download Center.

Starting with the release of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, third-party software developers are no longer authorized to redistribute WinHlp32.exe with their programs.

Microsoft still refuses to support the WinHlp32 as an update to Windows 7, and cites that at this time, there is no WinHlp32.exe download available for Windows 7 or for Windows Server 2008 R2. However, separate downloads for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 will be offered after the RTM versions of these products are available to public.

Windows Help (WinHlp32.exe) for Windows 7 64-bit and Windows 7 32-bit

I gathered both winhlp32.exe and winhlp32.exe.mui needed for the Windows 7 WinHlp32.exe installation and along with an installer batch file (CMD), created a package which will easily install Windows Help on Windows 7. Just extract the CAB file’s content into a folder and run (as administrator) Install.cmd.

Download Link
  • Download Windows Help (WinHlp32) program installer for Windows 7 x64 / Windows 7 x86 by Komeil Bahmanpour
Contents

The CAB file size is 151 kB (155,046 bytes) which will extract to a 325 kB (333,119 bytes) folder, containing the following 3 files:

  • winhlp32.exe, version: 50.0.6000.16387, size: 290 kB (296,960 bytes)
  • winhlp32.exe.mui, size: 30.5 kB (31,232 bytes)
  • Install.cmd, revision: 2, size: 4.81 kB (4,927 bytes)

Please note users who have tried to replace winhlp32.exe manually in Windows folder and winhlp32.exe.mui in Windows\en-US folder of Windows 7, was faced with overwrite restrictions due to ownership and permission problems. Also there’s a Microsoft known issue with macros and not opening HLP files over Intranet. My batch (CMD) file successfully overrides these problems, if it’s run as administrator. The Install.cmd file uses takeown and icacls commands to overrule ownership and permission restrictions only granted to the TrustedInstaller inside Windows Vista / 2008 / 7. It also fixes both the macro and Intranet restrictions and is able to terminate any possible running instances of winhlp32.exe right before the update process is set to begin.

Important Notice about .GID Files [Updated July 25, 2010]

If your .HLP file had been viewed on an earlier version of Windows (primarily Windows 95 / Windows 98) in the past, a hidden .GID file might have been created alongside. A .GID file has the same name as its corresponding Help file (but with a .gid extension) and is stored as a hidden file at the same folder as the corresponding Help file. If the Help file is in a folder to which you do not have write privileges (such as on a CD-ROM or network drive), the .GID file is created in the Windows\Help folder. This hidden file with the GID extension is a Global Index file created by Microsoft Windows help viewer engine to accompany WinHelp (.HLP and .CNT) files that helps speed up future access to help file topics. In other words, you can delete a GID file without harming your system, but Windows will automatically recreate the file next time you open the corresponding help file. As commenter Sampath stated, please note if exist, you may not be able to open .HLP files unless you delete their corresponding .GID files. Also please note aged .GID files are hidden by nature, therefore make sure to set the relevant Windows Explorer option so it’s capable of showing you any hidden files.

Windows Help Program (WinHlp32.exe) Archive [Updated October 20, 2009]

The archive can conveniently be used to replace the winhlp32.exe and winhlp32.exe.mui in the WinHelp Installer Package with another version, possibly to upgrade, downgrade, or rollback to a previous version (uninstall).

Download Link
  • Download Windows Help (WinHlp32) Program Archive
Contents

The 7-Zip archive file contains the following versions of WinHlp32:

Version Files Windows Source Opens HLP Files
50.1.7600.16386 winhlp32.exe, winhlp32.exe.mui Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 KB917607
50.0.6001.18001 winhlp32.exe, winhlp32.exe.mui Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 KB917607
50.0.6000.16387 winhlp32.exe, winhlp32.exe.mui Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008  
6.1.7600.16385 winhlp32.exe, winhlp32.exe.mui Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2    
6.1.7100.0 winhlp32.exe Windows 7 RC    
6.0.6000.16386 winhlp32.exe, winhlp32.exe.mui Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008    
5.2.3790.3959 winhlp32.exe Windows Server 2003  
5.1.2600.0 winhlp32.exe Windows XP  
Windows Help (WinHlp32.exe) for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008

If you’re willing to download KB917607 from Microsoft, please note although the filenames for either of 64-bit or 32-bit files are the same for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, but the files are different in size and also refuse to install on a wrong OS, showing the following error:

“The update does not apply to your system.”

In other words, there are two different files with the same name of “Windows6.0-KB917607-x64.msu” for Windows Vista 64-bit and Windows Server 2008 64-bit, and also two different files with the same name of “Windows6.0-KB917607-x86.msu” for Windows Vista 32-bit and Windows Server 2008 32-bit.

Microsoft Releases Windows Help Program (WinHlp32.exe) for Windows 7 x64 and Windows 7 x86 [Updated October 15, 2009]

Microsoft didn’t wait for the October 22, 2009 Windows 7 RTM deadline and yesterday published Windows Help program (WinHlp32.exe) for Windows 7. A genuine validation is performed before the download can be initiated. Further information about the removal of the Windows Help Program is provided at the Microsoft Knowledgebase.

This replaces my temporary solution which I had patched together four months ago.

Before Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, Microsoft allowed third-party developers to include WinHlp32.exe with their Windows programs. This is no longer the case, and the utility is now available exclusively as a standalone download from Microsoft. WinHlp32.exe is set up to integrate with both the 32-bit and the 64-bit editions of Windows 7, as well as with the exclusive x64 version of Windows Server 2008 R2.

“Windows Help (WinHlp32.exe) is a Help program that has been included with Microsoft Windows versions starting with the Microsoft Windows 3.1 operating system. However, the Windows Help program has not had a major update for many releases and no longer meets Microsoft’s standards. Therefore, starting with the release of Windows Vista and continuing in Windows 7, the Windows Help program will not ship as a feature of Windows. If you want to view 32-bit .hlp files, you must download and install the program (WinHlp32.exe) from the Microsoft Download Center,” Microsoft stated.

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113 thoughts on “Windows Help Program (WinHlp32.exe) for Windows 7 x64 and Windows 7 x86

  1. On RC1 I was unable to patch via provided cmd file – it just failed to copy files needed.
    I had to manually take ownership&delete old files, then copy new ones and add reg keys – then it worked.
    Maybe something with group policy?!

    Great job!

  2. I didn’t read the bit that said Run As Administrator so it failed the first time, but worked the second. Many thanks!

    • CAB is Microsoft’s own archive format, just like ZIP, RAR, etc. Windows Explorer is able to open CAB files, show their content, and allow you to copy files from within. Archive utilities like PowerArchiver and WinRAR also support CAB files.

  3. Thanks Komeil. Your patch works fine. With the MS one, I got an error 8007371B when I tried to install KB917607. I was a little anxious when I saw you are sending the Mui file to Windows\en-US because my system is a French one, which uses Windows\fr-FR Apparently it’s not a problem. Both values can co-exist. Thanks again.

    • It shouldn’t come up and disappear before you can read my script’s welcome notes / press “c” to continue / “q” to quit prompt. I think your Windows is infected with a virus that’s controlling your command processor (“cmd.exe”) and preventing it from being run. Forget “I have this thousand-dollar anti-virus, this can’t be the case” and check your startup apps with Sysinternals Autoruns for suspicious threats. Autoruns’ Hide Signed Microsoft Entries option helps you to zoom in on third-party auto-starting apps.

  4. Thank you very much Komeil for this site as I have been going round and round for ages in the microsoft pages.
    We have a 32 bit laptop and the download worked fine.
    My wife made me have a haircut before I pulled my hair out in frustration.
    Regards
    Bob

  5. I tried several times and ways – was able to extract the files to a separate folder, but the installation seemed to be foiled in the command window by an ownership issue. I am administrator – checked properties of file, etc. for ownership, which seemed right, but “access is denied” followed by granting permission then another access denied followed.

  6. Thanks for a great utility! I manually installed your files and they work great. Had some ownership issues but soon solved those.
    Really helped on some old apps I had.
    Thanks again.

    Bill

  7. Having issues on Windows 7 x64. Downloaded the x64 version of Winhlp32.exe from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/917607

    Now can open .hlp files that are stored on the local PC disk (C: drive). Still cannot open any .hlp files that are on a shared folder (intranet). Get the message “Cannot display this help file. Try opening the help file again, and if you still get this message, copy the help file to a different drive, and try again.”

    As per the same article it has two fixes to overcome this issue (1. Check Policy settings and 2. Add regkeys AllowIntranetAccess and AllowProgrammaticAccess to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\). So I have added both these keys but still does not work.

    Have tried this both on a Windows 7 64-bit and Windows 2008 which is 64-bit.

    Anybody can help me with this?

  8. I had an old copy of corel draw 7 and that help message appeared everytime I clicked in the program. Thank you so much this fix worked perfectly! I am very grateful. BTW I had to download a separate program to open the cab file for all people that have limited computer knowledge like myself. Once I extracted everything was super easy just right click the installer and run as administrator.

  9. If the old .GID files (say created under XP) exist, then it’s not opening the hlp file and winhlp32.exe crashes.

    If you delete those old .GID files (may need admin rights), then you are able to view those hlp files.

    - Sam

  10. Procedure works good. (Windows 7 x64)
    However, Help files with Full-Text Search (such as old Office applications) do not open with the “Find” tab.
    The MS mui’s for Vista and Server 2008 restore this feature.
    But this is great.
    Thanks,
    Mike

  11. why i follow your way but didn’t work? i used window 7 ultimate. my problem is i can’t use offline window help and support, but online support can use, so i need to find the solution. THX

    • My solution is to fix Windows 7’s problem with opening old HLP files (.hlp extension) like ones in Borland C++Builder 6, etc. It has nothing to do with Windows’ own Help and Support (F1).

  12. Thanks for the files. Adonilson, you may need to do what I had to do, run the Install.cmd as administrator and it work fine. No work if not run as administrator.

  13. I have included it as comment in your site (commented with signature “- Sam” on April 26, 2010)

    You may include that info as a note near the download link. I was not able to view the hlp files for months and only after I tried deleting the old .GID files (created under Windows XP), I could view the hlp files.

    If I had not tried deleting the old .GID files, I would have come to the conclusion that your winhlp32 wouldn’t work (or doesn’t work for me).

    Thanks,
    Sampath

  14. This package was helpful in my situation: MS has no winhlp32 available for ukrainian [uk-UA] locale of Windows 7, so i had to find something else.

  15. Unfortunatelly I couldn’t install it. It looks like it can not find my Windows 7 folder so installation is aborted. Could it be a problem that I’m using Windows 7 in German?

  16. I just want to add that the problem is that the system can not find the specified path. After the script aked if the path leads to a file name or a folder name I chose “V” for “Verzeichnis” (folder in German. Than it says “Error installing WinHlp32″ and aborts installation.

  17. Installation failed due to an Access Denied error.

    It looks like the batch file took ownership correctly but when it tried to copy the new .mui file Access denied.

    I tried Run AS.. and I am the administrator.

    Does this require local admin rights?

  18. Access is denied to exe.mui after runnimg install.cmd and I am operating as administrator. Can you suggest a course of action, please? All the permissions in the Properties, Security tab seem OK
    Tony

  19. On my Windows 7 x64, installation seems to work fine judging by the Cmd Prompt (all ‘successful’ statuses and no errors) but trying to open a help file yields a simple OK Dialog box: “Cannot display this help file. Try opening the help file again, and if you still get this message, copy the help file to a different drive, and try again.” I’ve tried opening the file from every partition on my hard drive… any ideas?

  20. I tried the download
    in Windows 7 Home on an x86 laptop,
    while logged on as administrator,
    and it failed as follows…

    ┌────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┐
    │ Windows Help program (WinHlp32) installer for Windows 7 │
    │ Revision 2 │
    │ June 14, 2009 │
    │ Copyright (c) 2009 Chortkeh. All rights reserved. │
    │ Command-line scripting by Komeil Bahmanpour. │
    └────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘

    Setup is detecting Windows version…
    Microsoft Windows 7 [Version 6.1] detected.

    Terminating all possible running instances of WinHlp32…
    ERROR: The process “winhlp32.exe” not found.

    Taking the ownership of system’s existing winhlp32.exe.mui…
    ERROR: The current logged on user does not have ownership privileges on
    the file (or folder) “C:\Windows\en-US\winhlp32.exe.mui”.

    Granting mandy full-access permission to system’s existing winhlp32.exe.mui…
    C:\Windows\en-US\winhlp32.exe.mui: Access is denied.
    Successfully processed 0 files; Failed processing 1 files

    Copying winhlp32.exe.mui to system…
    Access denied

    Error installing WinHlp32

    Setup will now exit.

    Press any key to continue . . .

    …..ANY SUGGESTIONS?

    • The course of events suggests your user is not the Administrator himself. Remember, an administrative account with a different name than the Administrator belonging to the Administrators Local User Group is not as highly-privileged as the Administrator himself. Try RUN AS ADMINISTRATOR.

      • Windows 7 pro will not let me run the installer as an Administrator it says cannot find the files associated with the program use file association in the control panel to associate files. All three files are in the same directory after being extracted so I do not understand this

  21. Thank you very much.
    Have a licensed x83 win7 and the installer downloaded from ms support did not work.
    This one works fine.
    You make my day.
    Respect…

  22. Works great thanks. Clever script too.

    No way am I going to run Microsofts authentication program after it crashed on me last time forcing a complete system re-build. Can’t believe they will not support it. Lots of very expensive software out there running older help files.

  23. Thanks a bundle you’re an angel. I put it on my 2 i5 laptops running win7 premium no bother.
    When it came to the i7 desktop running win7 pro it was a lot harder. I took ages trying to get the right permission, what a rigmarole. When I got the right permission it still didn’t work until I entered it in the Command monitor then “hey presto”. It makes the winhelp file a lot fatter and it works. Your next job Komeil is to devise a program to stop the task bar sticking in windows 7 even though it should disappear when unlocked. No-one can do this and Microsoft is aware of this problem. They are absolutely useless and don’t care about end users. Windows XP never had this problem. If you solve this you will be a supremo. I know the way round it is to stop explorer.exe in the task manager then restart it from the run prompt but their must be an easier way with your clever scripting.

  24. Hello Komeil
    Thank you for your winhlp32 installer.‎
    I installed an old favorite program of 1990s for a temporal use and I needed to read its ‎help file. I searched for an hlp reader and found your installer. The installation was ‎successful but now I do not need it any more. How can I uninstall this new winhlp32.exe? ‎
    I examined the Install.cmd and renamed 2 installed files and found a copy of ‎‎‘winhlp32.exe’ in ‘winsxs’ and renamed it and renamed registry keys too. Then I ran ‎sfc.exe but it couldn’t add original winhlp32.exe to windows.‎
    CBS log file says that:‎
    ‎< .…Could not reproject corrupted file […. C:\Windows"\ ....]"winhlp32.exe"; source file ‎in store is also corrupted …. >‎
    Now clicking an hlp file, Windows shows usual unassigned extensions’ table.‎
    I will undo renaming of files and registry keys, but I wish I could go back to original ‎windows 7 files. I think being over sixties it may be natural to trap into some casual ‎obsessions!‎
    Why Microsoft doesn’t recommend winhlp32.exe for Win7? May keeping this file ‎cause any security problems in Windows 7? ‎
    ممنون از شما

    • I’d like to tell you why: Because just like other companies on the face of the earth, Microsoft is all about greed and customer dissatisfaction. I don’t think it’s cautious and wise to believe your 14 GB of Windows installation containing nearly 80,000 files nested in over 15,000 folders–which has been getting tons of security update every now and then–is safe and secure, but this tiny 290 kB file–which is only up and running when an old HLP file is being opened–is unsafe.

      Obsession or whatever, you have the right to peace of mind. So, there’s no modified Registry keys, and no reason to worry about a security breach because all that Microsoft has been trying to do were towards depreciating the old HLP format. Please note WinHelp has been available as a legit Windows update (KB917607) download since October 14, 2009.

      Finally, if you’re not convinced yet, to rollback to your Windows original WinHlp32, download the WinHlp32 archive and depending on your Windows version, select one of the following archive folders:

      6.1.7600.16385: Windows 7 / Windows Server 2008 R2 original nonfunctional winhelp file
      6.0.6000.16386: Windows Vista / Windows Server 2008 original nonfunctional winhelp file

      Now replace both winhlp32.exe and winhlp32.exe.mui in my installer package with the ones in the folder and try the installer.

      Next time, use Microsoft’s own KB917607, because they feature inbuilt uninstaller.

      • Hello ‎
        I asked about a way to uninstall winhlp32 and sure I didn’t mean that there is anything ‎wrong with your installer. It is written professionally and I know that what was exactly done ‎installing this file. I downloaded your installer just because in numerous sites and ‎forums they said that windows own installer may cause issues installing on windows 7 ‎x64 and some offered your installer.‎
        My post was just a friendly question from an expert and thank you for your answer.‎

        • Hi. How can I be unfriendly towards a reader thanking me like that? Don’t take my tone the wrong way. I was only blaming Microsoft, trying to describe that things they said about it being unsafe is only because they wanted to kill WinHlp32 and provide no further support–because one less old product to support equals one less guy to pay. As I said earlier, to uninstall, replace the files next to my installer with the original (nonfunctional) files matching your Windows version that can be found in the archive. I don’t know whether those sites and forums are right or wrong about mine or Microsoft’s being preferred, but I think for a temporary HLP usage, Microsoft 917607 is a hassle-free install and uninstall.

  25. Win 7 ultimate —> no Help from so called Microsoft “Help and Support”!!

    Thank you very much Komeil.

    Komeil – 10/10
    MS “Help and Support” (pfui) – 0/1000

  26. I’m trying to use this program to display a help file that contains words in Czech. Some of the Czech characters are not displayed properly. Do you know how to solve this?
    Thanks.

  27. Hello, Thank you very much for this.

    I modified your install script for windows 8, and it worked for me; don’t forget to run this batch as administrator

    Script changes below

    :: added detection of windows 8

    echo Setup is detecting Windows version…
    ver | findstr /il “6\.2\.” > nul
    if %errorlevel% equ 0 (
    echo Microsoft Windows 8 [Version 6.2] detected.
    set WindowsVersion=8
    goto :BypassVersionError
    )

    :: section to display correct version of windows

    :BypassVersionError
    if not %WindowsVersion%==8 (
    echo Inappropriate Windows version. Setup must be run under one of the following
    echo operating systems:
    echo.
    echo * Microsoft Windows 8
    echo
    pause
    goto :eof
    )

    :: Preserve current directory for further referrings.
    set InitialDirectory=%cd%
    :: Change drive and path to where the batch file was started from. This is
    :: required when your batch file is run-as-administrator, because it sets
    :: System32 the working (current) directory.
    cd /d “%0\..”

    :: —————————————————————————
    :: Windows 8 installation

    :InstallFor8
    echo.
    echo Terminating all possible running instances of WinHlp32…
    taskkill /f /im %ExeFileName% /t
    :: No error checking is required, becasue if it’s not opened so far, an error will occur.
    echo.

  28. I’ve got Windows 8, do you have a version that works on that? I’ve tried changing the CMD file to use the 7 setup but it just comes up and says that it can’t find MS files.

    Cheers

  29. Я думала что эту проблему решу только на том свете.А написано для такого самовара как я.АГРОМНОЕ СПАСИБО!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Very useful info – took one step further to avoid security overrides…
    Put winhlp32.exe and an en-US (only English option new version supports) directory containing the mui file and put in completely separate folder then changed default program for help files to that. Even tried renaming the exe (and mui to match) and still works.

  31. I hope this works, but there is still a need for this app: rescue disks like WinPE and 3rd party PE environments like Winbuilder. 32bit apps that don’t use drivers frequently will work in 64bit WinPE environments, and their old HLP files now can be used with them. Thanks in advance.

  32. The described method runs also with Windows 8, but you have to include the version detection in the installer script.
    Just below the line

    echo Setup is detecting Windows version…

    insert the lines below. (You may also copy paste the “6.1” aka “Windows 7″ code in the existing script and replace “6.1” by “6.2” and “Windows 7″ by “Windows 8″.

    ver | findstr /il “6\.2\.” > nul
    if %errorlevel% equ 0 (
    echo Microsoft Windows 8 [Version 6.2] detected.
    set WindowsVersion=7
    goto :BypassVersionError
    )

    Thanks!

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