Opening HLP files

Have a problem opening a .HLP file? We collect information about file formats and can explain what HLP files are. Additionally we recommend software suitable for opening or converting such files.

What is the .HLP file type?

An abbreviation of 'Help,' the .hlp filename extension belongs to the Microsoft Windows Help (WinHelp) File (.hlp) file type and format. WinHelp is a proprietary format developed by Microsoft for built-in help files on Microsoft Windows. Since long a legacy, WinHelp has been replaced by the more advanced CHM (Microsoft Compiled HTML Help) format.

An .hlp file contains operating system or application reference topics compiled in a special binary format from RTF and BMP sources. On Microsoft Windows, .hlp files are handled by the WinHelp executable ("WinHlp32.exe"). The last Microsoft OS to natively support WinHelp is Windows XP, while all later OS'es (Windows 7, 8) cannot handle WinHelp out-of-the-box. To enable users to open .hlp files on such systems, Microsoft provides a standalone WinHelp installer.

There are third-party tools to convert WinHelp (.hlp) files into CHM or HTML as well as decompile them into RTF. HLP files can also be directly opened by several all-purpose document readers. Despite WinHelp's legacy status, .hlp files still occur in many older Microsoft Windows applications.

Apart from WinHelp, the .hlp extension is also generally used by different applications to denote generic help (.hlp) files. An .hlp file like that can be a plaintext file or a compiled binary, depending on the application that uses it. Still, older Windows application would most often default to WinHelp.

Software to open or convert HLP files

You can open HLP files with the following programs: 

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