When this problem occurs, you receive one of the following error messages.

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The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which was used in previous versions of Windows and it is not supported in Windows Vista.
The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn’t included in this version of Windows. However, you can download a program that will allow you to view Help created in the Windows Help format.
The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows. For more information, go to the Microsoft Help and Support website.

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To resolve this problem, download and install the Windows Help program (WinHlp32.exe) for your version of Windows.Important notes for downloading this program
  • Open the links by using Internet Explorer.
  • If you see a "Validation Required" message when you open the download page, click Continue, and then follow the on-screen instructions.
  • When you are prompted to download the file, select the file name that contains "x64" for 64-bit versions of Windows or "x86" for 32-bit versions of Windows. Use the following auto-detection information to make your choice.
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    You are currently using a 32-bit operating system.
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    You are currently using a 64-bit operating system.
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  • The Windows Help program is not supported in Windows Server 2012 or later versions of Windows Server.
If you encounter problems when you install WinHlp32.exe or use Help, go to the "More information" section.

For more information

This problem occurs when Windows Help uses an earlier version of the Windows Help program (WinHlp32.exe) to display content.

Known issues that may occur when you install WinHlp32.exe

Windows Update error 80070422

To automatically fix this problem, click the Fix it button or link. Then, click Run in the File Download dialog box, and follow the steps in the Fix it wizard.
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Fix this problem
Microsoft Fix it 50776
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Notes
  • This wizard may be in English only. However, the automatic fix also works for other language versions of Windows.
  • If you are not on the computer that has the problem, save the Fix it solution to a flash drive or a CD, and then run it on the computer that has the problem.

Then, go to the "Did this fix the problem?" section.


Manually fix this problem
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If you receive Windows Update error 80070422 when you download the WinHlp32.exe update, you may have to change the Windows Update service settings, and then restart the service. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and type Services in the Start Search or Search Programs and files text box.
  2. Double-click Services from the Programs list. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, type the password, or provide confirmation.
  3. Right-click the Windows Update service, and then click Properties.
  4. On the General tab, make sure that Automatic is selected next to Startup type.
  5. Next to Service status, check whether the service is started. If it is not started, click Start. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, type the password, or provide confirmation.
  6. Click OK.

Did this fix the problem?
  • Check whether the problem is fixed. If the problem is fixed, you are finished with this section. If the problem is not fixed, you can contact Microsoft Support.
  • We would appreciate your feedback. To provide feedback or to report any issues with this solution, please leave a comment on the "Fix it for me" blog or send us an email message.

Known issues that may occur after you install WinHlp32.exe

The following list shows the known functionality regressions from previous releases of WinHlp32.exe. The following known issues apply only to the version of WinHlp32.exe that is discussed in this article.
  • Macros are disabled

    By default, the following macros are disabled in Windows Help:
    • ExecFile
    • RegisterRoutine
    • ShellExecute
    • ShortCut
    • Generate
    • Test
    • ExecProgram
    However, all other macros in .hlp files will function as they did in past releases. Therefore, if an .hlp file that depends on these macros is opened after you install Windows Help for Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, or Windows Server 2008 R2, some functionality of the file may not work correctly. If this occurs, you may receive the following error message:
    There was a problem running the macro. (1037)
    If you have to use these macros, you can turn them on by using the Group Policy workaround or the registry workaround that is described in the "Registry entries and group policies for network administrators" section.
  • Cannot access .hlp files that are stored on intranet sites

    By default, you cannot use WinHlp32.exe to access .hlp files that are stored on intranet sites. If you try to open a remote file, you receive the following error message:
    Cannot display this help file. Try opening the help file again, and if you still receive this message, copy the help file to a different drive, and try again.
    If you have to access .hlp files that are stored on intranet sites, you can unblock them by using the Group Policy workaround or registry workaround that is described in the "Registry entries and group policies for network administrators" section.
  • Noninteractive user access is blocked

    Access has been blocked to .hlp files by noninteractive users, such as system processes. The user does not receive an error message when this error occurs.
  • Drag-and-drop functionality is disabled

    Support for drag-and-drop functionality in the application has been disabled. The user does not receive an error message when this error occurs.
  • Dependencies on "How to Use Help" files

    The Help files that are titled "How to Use Help" were removed from Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. The following files were removed:
    • Windows.hlp
    • Winhlp32.hlp
    • Winhlp32.cnt
    • Winhelp.cnt
    • Nocntnt.cnt
    Notes
    • These files are not included in Windows 7 or in Windows Server 2008 R2.
    • The .hlp files that depend on these files may return an error when you try to open them.

How to address compatibility issues that are related to WinHlp32.exe

You can use the WinHlp32.exe to view 32-bit Help files. This release provides Group Policy settings and registry subkeys that you can use to work around application-compatibility issues. For example, the Group Policy settings and registry subkeys can be used to resolve issues that are related to macros in .hlp files and to access .hlp files that are stored on intranet sites. However, if users view Help files from an unknown source, the computer will be put at more risk if they enable these policies or these settings. Therefore, you should use caution when you decide whether to implement the application-compatibility workarounds that are described in this section.

Use the following questions to determine whether to install WinHlp32.exe, and which policy changes and registry changes to make.
    Do you have to have the applications and the functionality that are affected by the removal of WinHlp32.ex?
    • How many applications require WinHlp32.exe? How many applications are affected by the functionality changes? How important are these applications?
    • How severe is the malfunction that's caused by the changes?

    What are your security requirements and security capabilities?
    • Which is more important: That you can use the WinHlp32.exe functionality or that you make sure that your security is as strong as possible?
    • Do external security measures, such as a local or a corporate firewall, give you sufficient confidence that you can install WinHlp32.exe and make the policy changes or the registry changes that are described in this article?

    If you are in an organization, does your organization deliver content in the .hlp format?
    • Can you modify the program or the contents so that they do not have to use WinHlp32.exe functionality? For example, can you convert the help content that is currently in the .hlp format to an alternative file format such as .chm, .html, or .xml?
    • Does your organization store .hlp files on an intranet site? Can you install these files locally instead?

How to enable macros on a single computer after you install WinHlp32.exe

After you install the WinHelp32.exe program that is discussed in this article, certain macros are disabled. For more information about this issue, see the "Known issues" section.

This section contains steps to re-enable these macros by modifying a registry key. If your computer is in a managed environment, do not follow these steps without first consulting with your IT department. IT departments may decide not to re-enable macros or they may decide to re-enable them by using group policies. IT departments should read this article in its entirety before you continue.

Warning This article offers information about how to work around issues that are caused by changes in this release of Windows Help. However, Microsoft makes no specific recommendations about which registry keys and which values are right for your unique environment. If you are in a managed environment, your IT department is the best judge of how to weigh the advantages of these workarounds against the risks of using them. The safer course is to use no registry workarounds at all.

Note To perform the steps in this task, you must be logged on to the computer by using an administrator account. By using an administrator account, you can make changes to your computer that you cannot make with any other account, such as a standard account.

To log on by using an administrator account, you must know the password for an administrator account on your computer. If you are performing these steps on your personal computer, you are likely already logged on by using an administrator account. If you are performing these steps on a computer at work, you might have to ask the system administrator for help.

To automatically enable macros on a single computer, click the Fix this problem link, click Run in the File Download dialog box, and then follow the steps in this wizard.
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Fix this problem
Microsoft Fix it 50105
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Note This fix is for Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 R2 only. If you use Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 or you prefer manual steps, see the Manually enable macros on a single computer section.

Note This wizard may be in English only. However, the automatic fix also works for other language versions of Windows.

Note If you are not on the computer that has the problem, you can save the automatic fix to a flash drive or a CD and then run it on the computer that has the problem.

Now go to the "Did this fix the problem?" section.

Manually enable macros on a single computer

Important Follow the steps in this section carefully. Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Before you modify it, back up the registry for restoration in case problems occur.

To enable macros on a single computer after you install WinHelp32.exe, follow these steps:
  1. Log on by using an administrator account.
  2. Press the Windows logo key + R, type regedit, and then click OK.
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    User Access Control permission
    If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, type the password, or click Continue.
  3. On 32-bit editions of Windows, locate and then select the following registry subkey:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft

    On 64-bit editions of Windows, locate and then select the following registry subkey:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft
  4. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click Key.
  5. Type WinHelp, and then press Enter.
  6. Click the WinHelp key.
  7. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  8. Type AllowProgrammaticMacros, and then press Enter.
  9. On the Edit menu, click Modify.
  10. In the Value data box, type 1, click Hexadecimal in the Base area, and then click OK.
  11. Exit Registry Editor.
Now go to the "Did this fix the problem?" section.

Did this fix the problem?

  • Check whether the problem is fixed. If it is fixed, you are finished with this section. If it is not fixed, you can contact support.
  • We would appreciate your feedback. To provide feedback or to report any issues with this solution, please leave a comment on the "Fix it for me" blog, or send us an e-mail message.

How to unblock .hlp files that are stored on an intranet on a single computer after you install WinHlp32.exe

After you install the WinHelp32.exe file that is discussed in this article, .hlp files that are stored on intranet sites are blocked. For more information about this issue, see the "Known issues" section.

This article contains steps to unblock these .hlp files by modifying a registry key. If your computer is in a managed environment, do not follow these steps without first consulting with your IT department. IT departments may decide not to re-enable macros or they may decide to re-enable them by using group policies.

Important This article contains information that shows you how to help lower security settings or how to turn off security features on a computer. You can make these changes to work around a specific problem. Before you make these changes, we recommend that you evaluate the risks that are associated with implementing this workaround in your particular environment. If you implement this workaround, take any appropriate additional steps to help protect the computer.

Warning This article offers information about how to work around issues that are caused by changes in this release of Windows Help. However, Microsoft makes no specific recommendations about which registry keys and which values are right for your unique environment. If you are in a managed environment, your IT department is the best judge of how to weigh the advantages of these workarounds against the risks of using them. The safer course is to use no registry workarounds at all.

Note To perform the steps in this task, you must be logged on to the computer by using an administrator account. By using an administrator account, you can make changes to your computer that you cannot make with any other account, such as a standard account.

To log on by using with an administrator account, you must know the password for an administrator account on your computer. If you are performing these steps on your personal computer, you are likely already logged on with an administrator account. If you are performing these steps on a computer at work, you might have to ask the system administrator for help.

To automatically unblock .hlp files that are stored on an intranet on a single computer, click the Fix this problem link, click Run in the File Download dialog box, and then follow the steps in this wizard.
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Fix this problem
Microsoft Fix it 50237
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Notes
  • This fix is for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 R2 only. If you use Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 or you prefer manual steps, see the Manually unblock .hlp files that are stored on an intranet on a single computer section.
  • This wizard may be in English only. However, the automatic fix also works for other language versions of Windows.
  • If you are not on the computer that has the problem, you can save the automatic fix to a flash drive or a CD, and then run it on the computer that has the problem.

Now go to the "Did this fix the problem?" section.

Manually unblock .hlp files that are stored on an intranet on a single computer

Important Follow the steps in this section carefully. Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Before you modify it, back up the registry for restoration in case problems occur.

To unblock .hlp files after you install WinHelp32.exe, follow these steps:
  1. Log on by using an administrator account.
  2. Press the Windows logo key + R, type regedit, and then click OK.
    Collapse this imageExpand this image
    User Access Control permission
    If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, type the password, or click Continue.
  3. On 32-bit editions of Windows, locate and then select the following registry subkey:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft

    On 64-bit editions of Windows, locate and then select the following registry subkey:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft
  4. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click Key.
  5. Type WinHelp, and then press Enter.
  6. Click the WinHelp key.
  7. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  8. Type AllowIntranetAccess, and then press Enter.
  9. On the Edit menu, click Modify.
  10. In the Value data box, type 1, click Hexadecimal in the Base area, and then click OK.
  11. Exit Registry Editor.
Now go to the "Did this fix the problem?" section.

Did this fix the problem?

Check whether the problem is fixed. If it is fixed, you are finished with this section. If it is not fixed, you can contact support.

Registry entries and group policies for network administrators

Warning This workaround may make a computer or a network more vulnerable to attack by malicious users or by malicious software such as viruses. We do not recommend this workaround but are providing this information so that you can implement this workaround at your own discretion. Use this workaround at your own risk.

Warning This article offers information about how to work around issues that are caused by changes in this release of Windows Help. However, Microsoft makes no specific recommendations about which registry keys and which values are right for your organization. Your IT department is the best judge of how to weigh the advantages of these workarounds against the risks of using them. The safer course is to use no registry workarounds at all.

The WinHlp32.exe download provides Group Policy settings and registry entries to work around two known issues in this release of Windows Help. By using the following Group Policy settings or registry entries, network administrators and individual users can re-enable macros and unblock .hlp files that are stored on intranet sites. A local computer Group Policy setting and a current user Group Policy setting are provided as a workaround for each feature. You can also use a user registry setting to manage each feature.

For each feature, precedence is given in the following order:
  • Local computer Group Policy
  • Current user Group Policy
  • User registry setting
If a policy has not been set for a feature, and the user registry setting for the feature has not been set, the features will behave as described in the "Known issues" section.

Important This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
322756 How to back up and restore the registry in Windows
  • How to enable macros

    Network administrators can use the Allow programmatic macros in WinHlp32.exe Group Policy setting to turn on or to turn off macros in .hlp files. Administrators can use the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) to manage this Group Policy setting. For more information about Group Policy, see the "References" section.

    If neither the local computer Group Policy nor the current user Group Policy for this feature has been set, users can modify the user registry setting for this feature to turn on or to turn off macros in .hlp files. To change this setting, users must first add the following new subkey to the registry:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WinHelp
    Then, users must add a DWORD value that is named AllowProgrammaticMacros to this subkey. If the value for AllowProgrammaticMacros is set to 1, the macros will be turned on. If the value is set to 0, the macros will be turned off. If this registry value does not exist, the macros will be turned off.
  • How to unblock .hlp files that are stored on an intranet

    Network administrators can use the Allow WinHlp32.exe to access .hlp files stored on intranet sites Group Policy setting to unblock .hlp files that are stored on the intranet. Administrators can use the GPMC to manage this Group Policy setting. For more information about Group Policy, see the "References" section.

    If neither Group Policy setting for this feature has been set, users can modify the user registry setting for this feature to block or to unblock .hlp files that are stored on intranet sites. To change this setting, users must first add the following new subkey to the registry:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WinHelp
    Then, users must add a DWORD value that is named AllowIntranetAccess to this subkey. If the value for AllowIntranetAccess is set to 1, the .hlp files that are stored on intranet sites will be available. If the value is set to 0, the .hlp files that are stored on intranet sites will be blocked. If this registry value does not exist, the .hlp files that are stored on intranet sites will be blocked.

Help content providers who release .hlp files

Starting with Windows Vista, the older Help component (WinHlp32.exe) is replaced by a new Help component that adds more functionality for newer versions of Windows.

The WinHlp32.exe technology will not be supported in its current form in future Windows releases. Therefore, we strongly recommend that software developers no longer use this Windows Help program. Software developers who release programs that rely on .hlp files are encouraged to transition their Help systems to an alternative Help file format, such as .chm, .html, or .xml. They will also have to change their calls from the WinHelp API to the new content source. Several third-party tools are available to help software developers convert Help content from one format to another format.

Note Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 R2 still includes WinHelp.exe for 16-bit .hlp files. The WinHelp.exe program is a version of Windows Help for 16-bit .hlp files.

References

Group Policy collection

Group Policy Object Editor

Core Group Policy tools and settings

About this article

Article ID: 917607
Last review: December 9, 2013
Applies to: Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Enterprise, Windows 8.1 Pro, Windows 8, Windows 8 Enterprise, Windows 8 Pro, Windows Server 2008 Standard, Windows Server 2008 Datacenter, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V, Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V, Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows Vista Starter, Windows Vista Business 64-bit Edition, Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit Edition, Windows Vista Home Basic 64-bit Edition, Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit Edition, Windows Vista Enterprise 64-bit Edition, Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter, Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard, Windows Web Server 2008 R2
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