How to Open .HLP WinHelp Files in Windows 10

Due to some security concerns related to now-very-outdated WinHelp files that usually come with .HLP file extension, Microsoft decided to pull the plug and stopped supporting these files in Windows Vista, 7, 8.x and now in Windows 10. Before Windows 10, users had option to download WinHlp32 Viewer (KB917607) from Microsoft’s website and install it on their PC if they needed to view the HLP files. But Windows 10 users have no such luck since Microsoft has decided not to offer any such option for them. And if you try to install the KB917607 hotfix released for Windows 7 or 8.x on your Windows 10 system, then it displays the update incompatibility message.

WinHlp32 for Windows 10

So what the Windows 10 users are supposed to do? If you really want to access the .HLP files on your Windows 10, then we at TrishTech.com have created a tiny utility that can extract WinHlp32.exe from KB917607 hotfix files for you. First you have to extract the files from this hotfix and then replace the ones from the Windows folder with these files.

Note: Due to some recent changes in the updates structure, the Windows 8.1 update files can no longer be used. But you can still use the ones meant for Windows 8 or Windows 7.

Part 1: Extraction of Files

  1. Visit https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/917607 and download 32-bit WinHlp32.exe hotfix for Windows 8 (32-bit version has “x86” in the file name). If you are having any trouble downloading, try using Firefox web browser instead of Edge or Internet Explorer.
  2. Download our tool – magic.zip. Extract magic.exe from the downloaded archive.
  3. Put both magic.exe and the downloaded KB917607 update MSU file (e.g., Windows8-RT-KB917607-x86.msu)  in the same folder.WinHlp32 for Windows 10
  4. Double-click on magic.exe and wait a couple of seconds. Now you have WinHlp32.exe and supporting files for your use. You can delete magic.exe if you want. Do not delete the Windows8-RT-KB917607-x86.msu file, it is needed for Part 2.WinHlp32 for Windows 10

 

Part 2: Replacing Files in Windows Folder

  1. Download replace-winhlp32.zip, extract replace.bat from it and copy it in the same folder where you have extracted the WinHlp32.exe file and other helper files.Replace WinHlp32.exe in Windows 10
  2. Skip this step if you use English as the Windows interface language. If you are not using English as the default Windows system language, then edit replace.bat and change en-US to your own language in the last line. For example, if you want Russian language, then replace en-US with ru-RU, if you use French then replace with fr-FR and so on.Replace WinHlp32.exe in Windows 10
  3. Download Process Hacker from http://processhacker.sourceforge.net/downloads.php. You can download the installer version and install it in your PC. But I personally like the portable (binaries) version which does not need to be installed.
  4. Launch Process Hacker. Keep it running.
  5. Double-click on Windows8-RT-KB917607-x86.msu to launch the update. Of course, this update is not for Windows 10 and will fail. Do not close any dialogs or error messages that it shows.Replace WinHlp32.exe in Windows 10
  6. Quickly switch back to Process Hacker, locate TrustedInstaller.exe in the list of processes, right-click on it and select Miscellaneous → Run as this user from the right-click menu.Replace WinHlp32.exe in Windows 10
  7. In the program command type cmd.exe and click on the OK button.Replace WinHlp32.exe in Windows 10
  8. When the command prompt window opens up, change the drive letter and path to the folder where you have extracted WinHlp32.exe and Replace.bat. For example, if you have extracted these files to E:\Helper, then first type E: and press Enter in the command prompt. Then type CD E:\Helper in the command prompt and press Enter.Replace WinHlp32.exe in Windows 10
  9. Next, type Replace.bat in the command prompt and press Enter. You will see that it is copying and replacing files.
  10. Close the command prompt window, the Process Hacker window and any other windows opened through these instructions. Now your system is ready for opening .HLP files. Just double-click on any .HLP file and it will be opened in the familiar Windows Help.

While this makes it very easy for you to use the older and very dated help viewer for your Windows 10 PC, you should keep in mind that this viewer could also be vulnerable to all kinds of security risks. This is the main reason Microsoft has dropped the support for such help files. Make sure the .HLP files you open using this WinHlp32.exe viewer come from trustworthy and reliable sources.

35 thoughts on “How to Open .HLP WinHelp Files in Windows 10

  1. Thank you VERY much for your un-selfish sharing of this solution. It worked faultlessly on two laptops and I shall install it on several more. Our church uses an old database of hymns which requires .hlp files. They work perfectly.
    Again, thank you for your time and effort!

  2. Trish,

    Patch works great. Also very good instructions.
    Will fix still work after the next major Win 10 update or will we have to reinstall?

    Joe

  3. PERFECTO!!

    A couple of small notes:

    I was served v2 of ProcessHacker when I did that download.

    I had to set ‘run as administrator’ for ProcessHacker2.
    Without that, ‘trustedinstaller’ wasn’t in the list of services.

    Thanks for the work, and the complete instructions. Geeks who speak/write plain English are rare indeed.

  4. Thank you so much for these instructions! I needed to read the Excel 7.0/97 Macro Function Help File for Excel 4.0 Macros on a Windows 10 computer, and now I can.

  5. Tried it today on system upgraded 1-2 years ago from Vista to 8 to 8.1. Can’t upgrade to 10 according to MS.

    Worked fine on old Lotus SmartSuite’s Lotus 1-2-3 which is still use by preference even though its file dates are between 1996-2002.

    Can I now move or delete all of the files I downloaded?

  6. Many thanks for this work around. Couple of questions: 1) will a Win10-64 bit O/S need the Windows8-RT-KB917607-x64.msu and 2) will monthly Win10 updates/patches from MS overwrite this change? Again, appreciate the post, very helpful.

  7. update to previous lodgement. I forgot I had disabled windows update service so that is why I did not see trustedinstaller in the process list. I was able to follow your instructions to conclusion.

  8. I dont see TrustedInstaller in the Process Hacker list. I am running windows 10 64 bit. When I run Windows8-RT…. I get error message The service cannot be started either because it is disabled or because it has no enabled devices ssociated with it. error code was 0x80070422.

  9. Had mixed results. So far I have used this on 3 machines. Worked and is still working on my laptop. It worked on a desktop machine but stopped after a few days. Possibly an update removed it. On a third machine I get an error message from ProcessHacker – “Unable to start the program. Attempt to send a message to a disconnected communications port.” after launching cmd.exe. Googled this but no results. This time I used the protable version of PH, previously I installed it. Worked OK when I went back to the installed version. Too soon to say if it will still be working next week!

  10. After many fruitless searches of Microsoft & tech sites, and a bad certificate error running the KB917607 hotfix, I came across this page via some Google search tuning. Thank you so much for posting a work-around to enable .hlp file viewing. For my case, I needed the Windows 7 version due to required 16-bit support for a very old application, and its help system. Keep up the good work! 😀

  11. sorry, but i can’t make my 3 DLLs and winhlp32.exe files.i don’t know why, i follow the entire process.
    can anyone help me?
    thanks

  12. Thanks SO much! I had first tried a method from a different site which used only a batch (cmd) file with icacls commands. It seemed like a much simpler approach…but it didn’t work. Your scheme is a little cumbersome, but it works…and only has to be done once on each computer. (Gosh, I sure hope a Microsoft update doesn’t wipe this out.)

    Thanks again for working out this puzzle for the rest of us.

  13. I got talked into updating to Windows 10 by a so-called expert and have had all sorts of problems this being the worst consequentially. Had resolved all but this one (including Microsoft 365 not running properly) and was about to roll back to Windows 7 when I gave this a try with some anxiety as I don’t know who you are and I could be downloading bad stuff. but it works and I am now back to making my living. Thanks again.

    1. I am glad that it helped you out 🙂 BTW, all the WinHlp32.exe related files come from Microsoft’s update for Windows 8.1, so everything is as genuine as possible. Other programs are used to just extract them and put them in Windows folder. In any case, you can run a scan with VirusTotal.com to see all files are clean – VirusTotal scans files with 50+ antivirus engines.

  14. Wow. Need I say again…WOW. And thank you TrishTech. I make my living from a piece of dated software from the government and the help files are crucial.

  15. )
    Hi,

    I have managed to perform and get the winhlp32.exe file according to your instruction. However I am not able to overwrite the winhlp32.exe file under Window folder (Windows operating system folder) which is write/update protected by windows. As a result the application program I am trying to use can’t open winhlp32 files as this winhlp32.exe file directs to the Microsoft error page (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/917607).
    Is there anyway to unlock the write protect from windowswinhlp32.exe so as to overwrite it.

  16. Hi, I downloaded magic.exe and Windows8.1-KB917607-x86.msu into the same folder in Windows 10 and ran the exe. I got the DOS window and messages, all seemed to work OK. I now have a folder called winhelp which contains 3 DLLs, winhlp32.exe and a folder called en-US with 2 .mui files in it.
    I tried double-clicking to associate the help files with winhlp32 but it just takes me to the Microsoft error page. I tried manually selecting winhlp32 for ‘open with’ and I get the same. I can run winhlp.exe manually and it works.
    What can I do to get it to run from the help menus? Thanks for any advice.

  17. The program works great for me, however I am unable to double clock a .hlp file and open it. Instead it opens my browser to a page explaining why I can’t open it. Opening the .exe and navigating to the .hlp file works fine. I assume something has changed since this tutorial was posted? Changing filetype association doesn’t help.

    1. magic.exe is a program that we(TrishTech.com) have created. It extracts all the required files from the downloaded Microsoft update file, so that you can use WinHlp32.exe on Windows 10.

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