Can't read older *.hlp files on Windows-10

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  1. Posts : 1,571
    Windows 7 Home Premium x64

    gerboise said:
    worked like a charm except I had to change the owner of the original winhlp32.exe file to
    Administrators first. I used the winhlp32.exe file suggested in another message.
    I now have my offline help back in Office 97 under Windows 10.
    Office 97 is SO twentieth century and running it on Win10 is very appalling

    I run no less than either MS Office 2007 on any of my Win10 PCs - file formats for O2k7 are incompatible with Office 97 & earlier.

    Microsoft revised support KB article 917607 in late October 2016 to note the following:

    The Windows Help program is not supported in Windows 10, Windows Server 2012 or later versions of Windows Server. The Windows Help program is available for Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1 only.

    Microsoft strongly recommends that software developers discontinue using the Windows Help application. Software developers who ship programs that rely on .hlp files are encouraged to transition their Help experience to an alternative Help file format, such as CHM, HTML, or XML. For more information see the MSDN article While Microsoft develops future Help technologies, we encourage Help authors to continue using HTML Help 1.4. HTML Help 1.4 is included in Windows versions starting with Windows 7.
    I don't think MS will ever develop an updated winhlp32 app for Win10. Anyways none of my apps use the old HLP files.
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  2. Posts : 1,590
    Windows 10 Professional

    Hahaha. "Help not supported". What makes this funny is that the word "support" is a synonym for "help". Hence, Help is not helped.

    Microsoft got jokes.

    Can't read older *.hlp files on Windows-10-help-not-supported.png
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  3. Posts : 1,983
    Windows 10 x86 14383 Insider Pro and Core 10240

    Bree said:
    Microsoft removed the ability to read .hlp files because .hlp format has an inherent security risk, it's possible to craft a malicious .hlp file. Is no one else concerned about this? I am, that's why I convert the .hlp files I need into the safe .chm format, as I described earlier.
    Can't read older *.hlp files on Windows-10
    Apart from 'proof of concept' demonstrations that show it is possible to craft a malicious .hlp file, I think anyone would be hard put to find an example of any real world exploit using Windows help files.

    The .CHM format is just as, if not more vulnerable as .hlp - to being crafted in such a way so that it can run malicious payloads from an external URL. In fact, the Cryptowall ransomware malware used exactly this method in 2015, described in the Bitdefender report at Cryptowall Makes a Comeback Via Malicious Help Files (CHM) – HOTforSecurity

    However, there is nothing insecure in running help files in either .hlp or .chm format if the help files are supplied with bona fide software.

    erpster4 said:
    Office 97 is
    erpster4 said:
    SO twentieth century and running it on Win10 is very appalling

    I had to
    when I read this. I didn't realise there were such ageist snobs about.

    When you have been happily using an Office suite for 20 years, why change? The only difference between running Office 97 now and under Windows 98 on a i486 dx2 66, is that it flies on a modern machine.

    Office 97 runs perfectly well on Windows 10, 32 or 64-bit (except for the .hlp files without applying the fixes stated earlier in this thread), and is much faster than recent office versions in use, and can utilise the Office 2007 file converters for office if needed.

    I would challenge anyone to distinguish a printed document created in any version of Office from any other.
    Last edited by Fafhrd; 09 Jan 2017 at 02:16.
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  4. Posts : 1
    win 10 x64

    To only OPEN help files - but not as called from context help in software- just the files individually - you can create an association with the old win32hlp that you extract somewhere. But to enable context help there is no apparent solution but file replacement.
    Last edited by Axel Morisson; 13 Feb 2017 at 04:55.
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  5. Posts : 1
    Windows 10; Windows XP SP2

    Mystere said:
    Why not just convert the .hlp file to PDF? There are a number of tools to do so, but I don't know of any free ones.
    Context sensitivity, in two words.
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  6. Posts : 1
    Windows 10

    Kissing the ground that this forum walks on. I'm using several old programs (Eudora 7, for one) for which the context help was broken, and I've sort of been thinking that was my problem. But today this fix solved the help access for an up-to-date tool that was really important to my career. And bonus: Eudora context help works just fine. :) Very happy.
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  7. Posts : 11,171
    Windows / Linux : Arch Linux

    Hi there

    Why not load an XP Virtual machine and then convert all your .hlp files to xml / html or anything else that can be accessed by W10.

    If you can find an XP .iso you can create the VM -- you have 30 days without needing a key before it stops working - I'm sure there are loads of places to find an XP .iso.

    Use VBOX or VMWARE player (both free) to create the VM.

    I find for any of these old formats using a VM to access / convert legacy file is still the best way by far to do this than mess around extracting "unofficial and unsupported" old .exe files and compromising your system.

    On modern hardware with an SSD you can create an XP Guest in about 10 mins !!! - you don't need to install anything other than the bog standard install and then from within the VM install VM additions if using VBOX or VMWARE tools if using VMware --this will fix things like proper Video resolution etc.

    Here's an XP Virtual Machine running on VMware (old Icelandic version) which can access Windows 10 files and files from 2 NAS boxes (Samba servers running CENTOS 7) (and of course the other way round too so file transfer not a problem).

    Can't read older *.hlp files on Windows-10-snapshot12.png


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  8. Posts : 2
    Windows 10

    pol098 said:
    Purely as a matter of interest: the file in page 2 of this thread identified as the x64 64-bit XP version of WinHlp32.exe is actually a 32-bit file, but with a higher version number, v5.2.3790.1830, than the "x86" file, v5.1.2600.5512. The PE header identifies both versions as 32-bit, and they both run fine under 32-bit Windows XP as well as 64-bit Windows 10. There's no problem: I expect either of these files will run under any 32- or 64-bit Windows of version XP or greater.
    Thanks for attaching the winhlp file - works as advertised!
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  9. Posts : 2
    Windows 10

    kimio kanda said:
    How to read an old “.hlp file (*)” on Windows 10 (x64, or, x86)
    (*): The “.hlp file” must be read, without any problem, on Windows XP, 2000, ME, or, 98/98SE.
    The following is a procedure to be able to read an old “.hlp file” on Windows 10 (x86).
    (1) First, get the winhlp32.exe existing in the Windows directory of Windows XP (x86).
    (2) Make a temporary folder (for example D:\TEMP) on the HDD of Windows 10 (x86).
    (3) Copy the winhlp32.exe (obtained by the #(1) step) into the temporary folder D:\TEMP.
    (4) Make a file, named Win10-Hlp32-Fix.cmd, by using the text editor.
    All of the contents of the file (Win10-Hlp32-Fix.cmd) are as follows;
    @echo off
    set crtpth=%CD%
    takeown /f "%windir%\winhlp32.exe" >nul
    icacls "%windir%\winhlp32.exe" /grant *S-1-5-32-544:F >nul
    copy /y "%crtpth%\winhlp32.exe" %windir%
    icacls "%windir%\winhlp32.exe" /setowner "NT Service\TrustedInstaller" >nul
    echo Done.
    echo Press any key to Exit
    pause >nul
    (5) Therefore, you can find two files (winhlp32.exe and Win10-Hlp32-Fix.cmd) in the D:\TEMP.
    (6) Open the Command Prompt window, by selecting "Run as administrator.”
    (7) Then, move the prompt to the D:\TEMP directory, by using Change Directory (CD)command.
    (8) Under this condition, execute the Win10-Hlp32-Fix.cmd command in the D:\TEMP directory.
    (9) After the completion of this execution, you can read an old “.hlp file” on Windows 10 (x86).

    In the case of Windows 10 (x64), please use the winhlp32.exe existing in the Windows directory of Windows XP (x64).
    Thanks for the procedure - easy fix. I'll be sure to pass on the credit.
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  10. Posts : 6
    Windows 10 64 bit

    Open .hlp-files in Windows 10.

    All solutions mentioned above to open .hlp-files in Windows 10 have the result that when running sfc /scannow at the end it says: "... found corrupt files ...". And I don't like this.
    I believe I found a much simpler solution which works on my Windows 10 - 64 bit and does not affect the sfc /scannow. This is what I did:

    • Go to a Windows XP (32 bit) PC and copy the file winhlp32.exe (found in C:\WINDOWS)
    • Paste this file on the Windows 10 (64 bit) PC in the root of C:\ (or another location of your choice)
    • Navigate to the Registrykey HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\hlpfile\shell\open\command and change in the rightpanel the Default String Value to "C:\winhlp32.exe" %1
    • Now doubleclick on a .hlp-file to open. Works fine for me, hope it will for you too.


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