Supplemental WinHelp files

The Supplemental WinHelp files component is a former Help engine that allows software developers to document their products using a well-known architecture of Help (.hlp) files. WinHelp has existed since Windows 3.x and is still being used by Windows XP.


This component contains the core Help engine, which renders the authored .hlp files and associated files to the user.

This component also includes a full-text search capability custom built for WinHelp that allows for full-text searches over single or multiple .hlp files.

This component also includes a Help compiler that allows customers to author Help files.

Associated Components

WinHelp interacts with the following files:

  • Help (.hlp) files
  • Table of content (.cnt) files (plain ASCII)
  • Compiled (.gid) .cnt files and index keywords pulled from multiple .hlp files
  • Full-text search (.fts) files
  • Full-text group (.ftg) files
  • Annotation (.ann) files (same file structure as .hlp files)
  • Bookmark (.bmk) files (same file structure as .hlp files)

WinHelp can also launch macros, for example, Shell execute, directly when WinHlp32.exe is being used--16-bit WinHelp does not offer this functionality. The WinHlp32.exe interacts with the FTSrch.dll for full-text search capabilities. It is the full-text search dynamic-link library (DLL) that interacts directly with the .fts and .ftg files. WinHlp32.exe interacts with all of the file types shown above.


There are no configurable settings for this component.

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