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Enable Legacy Windows Help File Support (.hlp file)

Origionally posted November 2009 and updated January 2024 by Steve Sinchak

Microsoft removed the legacy Windows Help .hlp file viewer, winhlp32.exe, from Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and all modern versions of Windows. Dating back to Windows 3.1, Microsoft says the Windows Help components have not been updated in years and no longer meets internal standards.  If you have an older application that still uses .hlp files and must be able to view .hlp files Microsoft has released an add-on that will restore the viewer.

Simply download and install the Windows Help viewer and the classic help functionality will be restored.

After you download and install the legacy help tool, you may need to follow these instructions to enable macros so all parts of the legacy help files work.

Alternative Viewers & Approaches

As Microsoft has abandoned the HLP file format, there are some free utilities built by the community that will allow you to continue to view or extract the content from these legacy help files. Check out the following tools:

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