Microsoft Help

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The various online help systems for application programs under the Microsoft Windows operating system are understood as Microsoft Help .


Windows Help up to Windows Version 2.0 was called QuickHelp (English for "Schnellhilfe") .


Microsoft WinHelp
File extension : .hlp
Developed by: Microsoft
Initial release: 1990
Contained in: RTF
Standard (s) : No

Help file

WinHelp (.hlp) has been the successor to QuickHelp since 1990 (Windows 3.0). The file format itself is based on RTF . WinHelp files basically consist of texts, images and macros in the VBA language . Navigation in WinHelp 1.0 was possible using hyperlinks and a search dialog with index and full text search (search) using tabs. There is no table of contents - the "Contents" button in the toolbar led to the main navigation topic in the help.

With the introduction of Windows Vista , the support of WinHelp was given up, but later re-introduced as an additional update for reasons of compatibility. In Windows 7 support by default missing also.


Compiled Help Modules
File extension : .chm
Developed by: Microsoft
Initial release: 1997
Expanded to: .lit
Standard (s) : No

The CHM file format is used by Microsoft HTMLHelp , the standard help system for the Windows platform since 1997. A CHM file is a collection of HTML documents and other data, such as images and JavaScript, compressed into a single CHM file become. CHM files contain a number of powerful features that are described in the specifications: table of contents, index of keywords and full-text search function. It requires Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or a higher version.

The file format is also used for e-books .

AP Help

In Windows Vista , among other things, the help platform was changed once again in order to comprehensively improve and upgrade the user help in Windows. This help platform is known as Assistance Platform Help ( AP Help for short ). However, it is not generally offered by Microsoft and is therefore not available to other programmers. For the development of help files, the HTML help technology is generally recommended.


Appropriate tools - mostly translation programs, also called compilers - are provided (sometimes free of charge) for generating the various help file formats .

  • Helpmake - a command line program from Microsoft for creating help files in QuickHelp format
  • Microsoft Help Compilers - translator for the WinHelp format ( .hlp)
  • Microsoft HTML Help 1.4 SDK - Developer Tools & Tools a. for the compiled HTML help format ( .chm)
  • MS HELP 2.x Info - Developer tools for the Help 2.x format ( .hxs)
  • There is currently no publicly available compiler for the AP Help format

See also

Web links

  • Help-Info: Information on Microsoft online help , examples, ..
  • Help guide: Information on Microsoft online help , examples, ..
  • HelpMaster: Large collection of tools and links to all help formats
  • WinHlp32: Information and downloads from Microsoft to read old help files under Windows Vista and successors

Individual evidence

  1. What help format to use (English) - page at MSDN ; As of September 20, 2008
  2. File: Helpmake.PNG - Screenshot at Wikipedia , April 24, 2009
  3. Microsoft Help Compilers (English) - page at EC Software ; Status: February 8, 2011
  4. Microsoft HTML Help 1.4 SDK page at MSDN ; Status: February 8, 2011
  5. Help API Sample Applications (English) - page with examples at MSDN ; Status: February 8, 2011
  6. MS HELP 2.x Info ( Memento of the original from March 22, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (English) - page at Helpware ; Status: February 8, 2011 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /