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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:
Why 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 Windows Help (WinHlp32) program installer for Windows 7 x64 / Windows 7 x86 by Komeil Bahmanpour
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 Windows Help (WinHlp32) Program Archive
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||✓|
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.