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Help and Support Center \windows\pchealth\helpctr\binaries\helpctr.exe

The primary online documentation for Windows XP.

To Open

Start Help and Support

Command Prompt helpctr


Rather than a standard help file, Help and Support Center is more like a web site, providing documentation for some of the components included in Windows XP, a collection of tips and tricks, some troubleshooting information, and rudimentary walk-throughs for such tasks as keeping your computer up to date and adding hardware and software (see Figure 4-43).

Figure 4-43. The search tool in the Help and Support Center shows the most relevant information in the included documentation and in Microsoft’s online knowledge base

While Help and Support Center does have some minimal troubleshooting content, it’s mostly simple solutions to common problems (i.e., if you can’t print, check to see if your printer is turned on and is loaded with paper). However, if you’re connected to the Internet, the Search tool at the top of the window will also search the Microsoft Knowledge Base, an immense database of troubleshooting information, frequently asked questions, bug reports, compatibility lists, and other technical support issues. In fact, since I access the Microsoft KB frequently, I find this built-in interface to be faster and more convenient then using the search function on Microsoft’s web site! To view the results from searches other than the standard help content, click the gray bar above or below the displayed results (in the case of the KB, you would simply click Microsoft Knowledge Base). This is a terrific feature and can even be customized by going to Options Set search options; you may want to increase the default of 15 results per provider (the Microsoft KB counts as a provider).


  • If your job description involves supporting other computers, including those running other versions of Windows, the Help and Support Center can be augmented with documentation from other editions of Windows XP by going to Options Install and share Windows Help. Furthermore, you can share your help content with others for precisely the same reason.

  • From time to time, you’ll find an especially useful page in the Help and Support Center window, either part of Windows’ built-in documentation or a page on Microsoft’s support web site. When available, click the Add to Favorites button to bookmark the page you’re viewing; then, open Favorites (not the same as your main Favorites folder) and click the bookmark at any time to return to that page.

  • If you need help with a specific Windows component, such as WordPad or Explorer, use that application’s Help menu, rather than the more general Help and Support Center.

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