On Windows 2003 32-bit, the Desktop Help system does not open from Help menu > ArcGIS Desktop Help, in ArcMap or ArcCatalog

Last Published: April 25, 2020


The Desktop Help system fails to open when using the Help menu > ArcGIS Desktop Help option in ArcMap or ArcCatalog.

This is limited to the Windows Server 2003 (32-bit) operating system (OS) only, standard installation and all service packs (for example, Windows Server 2003 R2). This issue is not reproducible in other operating systems.


The Desktop Help system (installed Help) is a merged CHM Help system. To launch a (compiled help system) CHM successfully you need to access the Windows hh.exe file. The Windows Server 2003 32-bit operating system seems to react differently to the hh.exe than other operating systems. The cause has been narrowed down to the following: The software menu does not handle the hh.exe file in a way that supports this OS.


There are numerous workarounds for this issue. Any one of the following options successfully launches the Desktop Help:

  1. To open the ArcGIS desktop installed Help:
    a) Go to Start > Programs > ArcGIS > ArcGIS Desktop Help.
    b) Create a shortcut on the desktop. Set the location as


    and use it to launch the installed Help.
  2. To open the ArcGIS Desktop Web Help:
    a) In the applications, click the Help menu > Desktop Help Online
    b) Go to Start > Programs > ArcGIS > ArcGIS Desktop Help Online.
  3. To open the ArcGIS Desktop Geoprocessing Tool Help:
    a) In the ArcToolbox window, right-click any toolbox or tool and select Help. This launches the installed Help system.

Article ID:000009642

  • ArcMap 9 x

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