Windows 7: Download WinHlp32.exe to Open Help (hlp) Files

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 15, 2009
Updated • Dec 9, 2018
Microsoft, Windows, Windows 7

Microsoft has started making cuts in Windows Vista but especially their soon to be released operating system Windows 7.

Programs like the email client Outlook Express, Windows Movie Maker or Windows Photo Gallery have been detached from the operating system and are now available as separate downloads for users who want to use them. Many experienced Windows users like this new strategy as they feel that Microsoft has finally started cutting some of the bloat from the operating system with the opportunity for everyone to download the programs separately.

Microsoft revealed in 2006 that it planned to phase out support for WinHelp on all supported Windows platforms.  As part of the announcement, Microsoft disallowed the inclusion of libraries in third-party program and removed native support for .hlp files from its operating systems.

Windows 7 users who try to open help files with the .hlp extension that require the Windows Help (WinHlp32.exe) program might be in for a surprise though. This is actually a change that Microsoft has implemented in Windows Vista.

Users who want to view .hlp files in Windows 7 need to download the Windows Help Program WinHlp32.exe separately from the following download locations:

Windows Help Program 32-bit and 64-bit

WinHlp32.exe is required to display 32-bit Help files that have the ".hlp" file name extension. To view .hlp files on Windows 7, you need to install this application.

A genuine validation will be performed before the download can be started. The Help program seems to be the same for 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows 7.

The application is only available for Windows 7; it cannot be installed on newer versions of the Windows operating system, e.g. Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.

Users who run these versions may want to check out third-party programs like Help Explorer Viewer or WinHlp32 for Windows 10 to add the functionality to these versions of Windows.


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  1. vava said on December 7, 2022 at 1:20 pm

    The link to the Microsoft web site Windows Help Program 32-bit and 64-bit is not longer working.

  2. POC said on November 22, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    WHY do I need a genuine validation for something as trivial and nearly useless as winhlp32.

  3. Windows freak said on July 31, 2011 at 6:50 am

    Great information and straight to the point thank you !! will b

  4. Osama said on March 17, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Thanks ……………..

  5. subgrampus said on October 15, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Within the Microsoft Knowledge Base article, the 32-bit editiion, the 64-bit edition, or both, are individually selected for download.

    1. Kris said on November 2, 2009 at 8:14 pm

      yes, but which is which? I know i’m running 32-bit – my file download options are:
      Files in This Download
      The links in this section correspond to separate files available in this download. Download the files most appropriate for you.

      Windows6.1-KB917607-x64.msu and

      Neither of those obviously corresponds to a 32-bit system and there is no information to tell me which I should use. The x64 seems like it ought to be the 64-bit, but why the heck would I want to download something called x86 for my system? What am I missing here?

      1. Martin said on November 2, 2009 at 8:45 pm

        The x86 is the 32-bit edition.

  6. tuna said on October 15, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Seeing as how unuseful “Help&Support” has been in the past, this appears to be a step in the right direction. A typical MS half-step, as I expect to find the service still installed and if not set to Automatic start-up type it will start to let you know you need to re-install if you accidentally brush the F1 key. Kinda like the Messenger component that I “uninstalled”.

    The important step here is yet another genuine validation gets implemented. I am almost starting to believe I AM guilty… until proven innocent.

    1. everyone said on November 5, 2014 at 7:20 am

      you’re gonna send us to the fucking devil to get the file?
      the ones who put their operating system on all our computers
      and won’t give us permission to use them?
      after giving them billions of dollars?

      fuck them!!!
      i know what they do
      scan your computer to see if your installation is “authentic”
      and lock up the systems of those who bought legitimate copies
      and shut down entire offices and destroy their fucking jobs
      and dictate everything you fucking do
      and think they own fucking everything
      through their overinflated egotism
      that can’t see past their own fucking ass…

      they’re gonna burn in fucking hell !!!!

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