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Windows Help System \windows\winhlp32.exe; winhelp.exe; hh.exe

Online Help system and viewer of WinHelp and HTML files.

To Open

Start Help and Support

Explorer Help Help and Support Center

Select Help or press F1 in nearly any application

Double-click any .hlp or .chm file.

Command Prompt helpctr (Help and Support Center)

Command Prompt winhlp32 (.hlp file viewer)

Command Prompt hh (.chm file viewer)

Command Prompt help (command prompt help)


The Windows Help System is actually a collection of utilities and viewers that provide help in Windows XP. The first, Help and Support Center (accessible through the Start menu), is a distinct application and is documented earlier in this chapter. Most other applications, including many of the components discussed in this chapter, use one of the following two help formats:


The traditional help file format, introduced in Windows 3.0. Old applications, and even some new ones, use this format for online documentation. Help pages look and feel somewhat like Web pages, with hyperlinks and embedded graphics. However, .hlp files are somewhat limited compared with HTML Help files, discussed below.


HTML Help is a newer format, introduced originally in Windows 98 and supported on any Windows system running Internet Explorer 3.0 or later. HTML Help-based files are actually collections of web pages (.html) that have been compiled into a single .chm package. HTML Help does everything that .hlp files do, add support for Web links (linked pages are even displayed right in the help window), and have shortcuts to individual pages (see Figure 4-113).

Figure 4-113. Most applications come with documentation in the form of a Windows Help or HTML Help document

To create a shortcut to an individual page in a HTML Help file, right-click on the link to the page, drag-drop the link onto your Desktop, or right-click on an empty area of the page and select Properties. The URL syntax for this is:

mk:@MSITStore: .chm file location ::/.htm page name


See Also

“Help and Support Center”!

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