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Due to some security concerns related to now-very-outdated WinHelp files that usually come with .HLP file extension, Microsoft decided to pull the plug and stopped supporting these files in Windows Vista, 7, 8.x and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 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.

Part 1: Extraction of Files

  1. Visit 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 – 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, 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 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 with elevated privileges (right-click on ProcessHacker.exe and select Run as administrator). 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.


  1. There are a lot of comments on the web regarding the ProcessHacker App as being a danger, and that’s understandable. I paused my Total Security Suite and downloaded said application. I followed the above procedure and the older help files now seem to work. Further running for more experience could tell a different story…. we’ll see.

  2. Could not get it to work. Has to do with my Kaspersky Total Security. It won’t download ProcessHacker executable file. I downloaded the zip file and when I try to extract the files, some of the files (the folder x64 is empty) and other assorted issues. I am going to try to do some research with Kaspersky and maybe just risk that the files are clean. I think that the antivirus is acting properly only because of the deep reaching of the running processes.
    I really need to get this to work, so I probably will just bite the bullet and risk it.

  3. I successfully completed the process and was able to open the help file from the legacy program I am using. That’s progress! Thanks for figuring this out.

    However, I have run into a bit of odd behavior. It opens into a browser window, and if the help file is longer than the page it is truncated. There are no scroll bars, and any attempted action produces only an error sound. Esc terminates the window.

    Also, I saw in your reply:
    “32-bit WinHelp works in both 32-bit and 64-bit version of Windows. But 64-bit WinHelp works only in 64-bit version of Windows. This is why I mentioned only 32-bit WinHelp in the article as it will work for everyone. You can use 64-bit WinHelp in your 64-bit Windows 10.”

    Does this mean that I could have used the 64 bit version of the .msu file?

    1. 9/18/21. Just tried process; it didn’t work. All of process seemed to have been taken. Have successfully used process on several other computers. This laptop is Dell Insp 15 3000, recently updated Win 10 Home 64 bit (used ….x86.msu). Saw where this worked for Neil on 9/4/21. Any ideas other than “operator error — try again”. OR has Microsoft done it to us again since 9/4/21?

  4. Wow! It worked! Now I can access help files in programs from 96 and 99. Thanks!

  5. I love you guys so much. You made it happen for me. I can run my beloved ReBirth RB-338 on Windows 10 now.

    I can’t believe this worked. I tried several versions of this appoach from other blog posts, before. Copying those files manually, typing in the command shell. To no avail. I’d given up hope.

    This was so easy.
    Amazing. A million thanks.

  6. Hi Trisha – thanks for this – got through everything ( had to move Helper file out of desktop onto C:\ directly because I could not change directory successfully to get to Helper file. But the process executed successfully. When I try to open the .HLP file though, I get the Windows Help (ironic, no?!) 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.”
    So it is failing. Any suggestions? I appreciate it!

  7. Genius – you made me feel so smart. Thanks for your excellent illustrated instructions.

  8. Quite a few steps to take, and a little background knowledge of how to create folders and navigate to them using the cmd window, but it worked for me! Took several attempts to get through step 7, though.

    I tried various other routes, including looking at, but backing off from, several ‘dodgy’ websites before attempting your instructions.

    Many thanks!

  9. The magic.exe seem to be broken. After placing it into the same dir as the update file and running it, the program creates only empty directories. When I had moved the update file and re-runned it, it had again created only empty folders. it’s like it would create them independant if there is an update file or not in the same folder

  10. I have just (2020-09-27) tried to attempt this but in Part 1 step 1 the Windows site had only msu files for download, and they of course tell me that the update is not meant for this (W10) computer. Any suggestions?

  11. Thank you. Help file for DesignCAD 3D MAX Plus now works. But I do get a popup when opening the help file that says: “There was a problem running the macro. (1037)”

    Not a biggie, but any ideas where that would come from??

  12. thank you so much it was awesome worked runs with me nic steps,
    win 10 pro 64 bit
    all files were 32bit unbelievable workaround.

  13. Thank you so much! The unsupport of old help files in Windows 10 is totally stupid! Your procedure corrects this.

  14. It worked! Half the time these things don’t work. It’s not for the faint of heart but you need not be a hacker or advanced user. Just know how to get around and don’t listen to Bitdefender. It will complain and think its blocking files but in fact it’s doing nothing. It calms magic is malware. It really is not, at least so far :>)

  15. Great Job. My winhlp32 worked with w10 until last update, a gew days ago. But now it works another time. Thanks.

  16. I noticed that the instructions were changed regarding the .msu file to be used for this procedure. Initially, the file specified was the Windows 8.1 file Windows8.1-KB917607-x86.msu. I found two versions of this file on Microsoft’s web site. The one that was digitally signed in 2013 contained the required binaries, but in the file signed in 2015, the binaries were absent. Apparently, the instructions were changed to specify the Windows 8 file Windows8-RT-KB917607-x86.msu instead. I’m not sure why this change occurred. Is there any advantage of using one file over the other, or will I get good results from either one?

    1. I changed it because Windows8.1-KB917607-x86 was failing on our test system. There is not much difference, all MSU files from Vista to 8 should work. Only 32-bit versions are supported by our extraction tool.

  17. When I open cmd: it shows following:
    1 file(s) copied.
    1 file(s) copied.
    1 file(s) copied.
    Access is denied.
    0 file(s) copied.
    Access is denied.
    1 file(s) copied.

  18. Thanks! I was a little nervous about running these EXEs but it worked like a charm. The instructions were very well written. Thanks again.

  19. Thank you! Your process worked like a charm. I had to update two older help files for a Manufacturing ERP Software program and this made life a lot easier. Now I don’t have to write them from scratch.

  20. My issue is the service/process gets deleted before I can get back to the cmd window.
    Is this related to some anti virus software running or windows defender or something?

  21. And then, by looking at one of your screenshots more carefully, I found my problem: I had failed to copy the .dll files into the directory containing all the other .hlp-related files. So once again: User Error! After I copied them into the folder and ran replace.bat again, all files were copied–and the old Help system is working! Thanks so much. – Gary

  22. I got all the way to running replace.bat, only to get four “The system cannot find the file specified” messages, and two files copied (ftsrch.dll.mui and winhlp32exe.mui). Clicking on a .hlp file still results in a browser window opening to a Microsoft page telling me that .hlp files are not supported in Windows 10.

  23. AWESOME!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Worked a treat, simple. (Had a little issue with Panda AV and ProcessHacker.exe, but after I negated that, everything went exactly as per the instructions above.

  24. If running 64 bit Windows 10 do I need to download the 64 bit version of Winhlp32? Your article only refers to the 32 bit version. Will the other downloads work on the 64 bit version of Winhlp32?

    1. 32-bit WinHelp works in both 32-bit and 64-bit version of Windows. But 64-bit WinHelp works only in 64-bit version of Windows. This is why I mentioned only 32-bit WinHelp in the article as it will work for everyone. You can use 64-bit WinHelp in your 64-bit Windows 10.

  25. Have now tried it on version 8.0, 8.1 (both 32 and 64bit). The only thing I get from “magic” is a directory structure of languages — 25 of them — and they are all empty. Moreover, there is no winhelp32.exe either. Has something changed since you wrote this article?

      1. I have same problem as jgo (Windows 10 Creators Fall Pro/Home 32 bit). Tried safe mode. Tried the MS downloads for Windows 6.0 and 6.1 and 8 from here:-
        (Didn’t try 8.1 due to red box warning)
        Only empty language folders.
        We clearly need magic2.exe
        Just for fun I simply copied the Winhlp32.exe from my old XP machine over to my Windows 10 machine – it opens and will open HLP files (various error messages depending on the HLP file which I simply clicked away). Probably good enough for what I need. If I ever manage to extract (or acquire by devious means) later versions of Winhlp32.exe I will probably just use it in the same way!

        1. Just to complete this situation. The magic.exe problem is related to the Windows 10 version – it does its stuff for Anniversary (but not for later versions) – we need to await magic2.exe for that! I have extracted all the available Winhlp32.exe files (Vista through to 8.1) and none of them will run as a standalone exe file (i.e. not without a proper install). The Windows XP Winhlp32.exe will run standalone in any Windows 10 and will open old HLP files and use them sufficiently well for my purposes (subject to clicking OK for a few error boxes). I mostly do all real work in Windows XP and only use Windows 10 for internet and for new hardware that does not have XP drivers so this is fine for me. It seems to me that in the simplest future, old HLP file users under Windows 10 will be using the Windows XP Winhlp32.exe programme to open those old HLP files! Those braver than me will be using magic.exe under Windows 10 Anniversary to do the initial extraction(s) on a one time basis – and then probably/hopefully running the rest of the installation with the extracted files as described on whatever is the latest Windows 10. Probably it would be useful to people if Trishtech would post the extracted files somewhere for people to download. Trust this is helpful.

  26. Let’s face it, Microshaft just hates its users, or at least hates them wanting to use older software.

  27. I am getting “Unable to start the program. Access Denied” from ProcessHacker when I try to launch cmd.exe.
    I had winhlp32 running on this machine before applying the Creators Upgrade.

    1. After much more hacking last night, I made it.

      I had to completely uninstall AVG Fre., Even with it disabled, there was a “selp protect…” running that prevented ProcessHacker starting cmd.

      I belive that the Win 10 v1703 update removed the previous installation of WinHlp32. MS made a change to their Ts&Cs, with this latest update, to allow them to remove anything on your machine they don’t like. Win 7 Games is on their hit list so persumably is WinHlp32. What we need is a SuperTrustedInstallProtector. Any suggestions?

    2. Thanks for Trishtech. You saved the help files of my Lotus Approach applications. It worked the first time right. Great.

      Why does MS not make this it self?

      1. I have just reinstalled my Windows 8 and I had the same problem. Even though I DID download the right Winhelp update for my system Wiindows 8 32 bit.

        But the update just would not install.
        So I tried copying both the Winhelp 32 and Winhelp exe file from my Windows XP computer.
        Then I deleted the Windows 8 Winhelp 32 and exe by taking ownership of the files with Take ownership. Then replacing the 2 Winhelps in 8, with my ones from my XP computer and it worked,

        I am now able to read all my help files on my 16 bit software and games on Windows 8 .So you can try doing what I did if you have a Windows XP computer . The Winhelp 32 exe works on Windows 8 at least it does for me.

    3. Urgh! Just applied the Fall Creators update. Winhlp has disappeared again. managed to reinstall it without any trouble this time. Is there any way I can protect these files from the MS Police? I have the same trouble with another app. Got to reinstall that, too!

  28. Got magic.exe to run in Win10 Safe Mode. Remaining steps executed smoothly, giving me access to the tutorial on Yankee Clipper III, included in the program’s .hlp file. I don’t use any software enough to get familiar with it, but: don’t we get spoiled so easily when something works well?
    I’ll be archiving your steps and tools, for when Microsoft obstructs again.
    Many Thanks!

  29. magic.exe “blocked by administrator”. Seems CryptoPrevent or Microsoft has set a policy to stop magic.exe. Tried running from an Exec level command window, same result. Activated hidden Administrator account, same…

    1. I just checked it in Windows 10 64-bit 1607. Works as expected. Perhaps you are using a security product that blocks programs that are not digitally signed. It could be CryptoPrevent.

      1. Do have CryptoPrevent installed, but succeeded in running magic.exe in Safe Mode. Already posted a followup, but you beat me to the blog.

        Thanks again for the fine work.

  30. Why do we need to run ‘replace.bat’ only through command prompt in process hacker? Why can’t we just run ‘replace.bat’ simply with administrative privilege if we only need to replace some files?

  31. Thank you so much, I’ve been trying to open this particulate HLP file for ages. Worked perfectly with your clear instructions.

  32. God bless you. Service manuals for my beloved Jaguar XKR convertible 2003 were stuck between the Windows. Now I can access everything again and keep my Cat purrrrrring. I think I love you!! THANKS for sharing this great piece of software.

    1. You don’t have to do this in Windows 8.1. It is only for Windows 10 and only if you really really need to use some old software that uses .HLP help files.

  33. C’est génial et cela fonctionne parfaitement.
    Draw5 et Corel6 affichent l’aide.
    Merci à la personne qui a trouvé cette solution.

  34. This help works excellent. Thank you very much. Esta ayuda trabaja muy bien gracias por compartir.

  35. 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!

  36. 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?


  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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?

    1. If you are using Windows 8.1, then you can use the Microsoft WinHelp update itself. You do not need these instructions.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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!

  44. This didn’t work for me. 2 of 6 files in Windows dir could not be copied and I couldn’t remove the write protect

  45. 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! 😀

  46. 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?

  47. 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.

  48. 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 to see all files are clean – VirusTotal scans files with 50+ antivirus engines.

  49. 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.

  50. )

    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 (
    Is there anyway to unlock the write protect from windowswinhlp32.exe so as to overwrite it.

  51. 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.

  52. 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. Just follow the instructions exactly as above and you will be able to to open the HLP files either by double-clicking them or from the application. Winding up at the MS web site is just their way of telling you that WinHlp32 isn’t working right. 🙂 I just went through the process above and it worked just fine.

  53. Hi Trish,
    Thanks for this tip. Could you explain where magic.exe comes from and what exactly it does?

    1. magic.exe is a program that we( 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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