Due to some security concerns related to now-very-outdated WinHelp files that usually come with .HLP file extension, Microsoft decided to pull the plug and stopped supporting these files in Windows Vista, 7, 8.x and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.
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.
Part 1: Extraction of Files
- 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.
- Download our tool – magic.zip. Extract magic.exe from the downloaded archive.
- Put both magic.exe and the downloaded KB917607 update MSU file (e.g., Windows8-RT-KB917607-x86.msu) in the same folder.
- 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.
Part 2: Replacing Files in Windows Folder
- 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.
- 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.
- Download Process Hacker from https://github.com/processhacker/processhacker/releases. 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.
- Launch Process Hacker with elevated privileges (right-click on ProcessHacker.exe and select Run as administrator). Keep it running.
- 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.
- 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.
- In the program command type cmd.exe and click on the OK button.
- 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.
- Next, type Replace.bat in the command prompt and press Enter. You will see that it is copying and replacing files.
- 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.