The help for this program was created in Windows help format used in previous versions of Windows and is not supported

Last Published: April 25, 2020

Error Message

This issue affects the Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 2008 Server operating systems.

When accessing certain ArcGIS Desktop or ArcInfo Workstation Help resources, the following error displays:

"Why can't I get Help from this program? 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. For more information, see 'Windows Help program (WinHlp32.exe) is no longer included with Windows' on the Microsoft support website."

The resources involved include help accessed by pressing the Help button on an ArcGIS Setup program, context sensitive help, or 'What's This?' help for controls and dialog boxes accessed inside ArcGIS Desktop and glossary topics in the ArcGIS Desktop Help. This also includes access to the ArcDOC ArcInfo Workstation help installed on the computer.


The Help resources that generate the error are all implemented using Windows Help (WinHelp) and accessed using the WinHlp32.exe program, which is required to display 32-bit help content files that have the .hlp file extension, such as all the .hlp files that come with ArcGIS Desktop and ArcInfo Workstation. WinHlp32.exe is no longer included or supported directly in Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008.

The help affected includes all pop-up context-sensitive help topics accessed by:

A) using the 'What's This?' tool on the Standard toolbar.
B) pressing Shift+F1 when a command is highlighted.
C) using the '?' tool in the title bar of dialog boxes.
D) right-clicking controls in dialog boxes and selecting 'What's This?'.
E) pressing F1 when windows, such as the table of contents window and the table window, have keyboard focus.
F) opening the ArcDOC ArcInfo workstation Help.

Help topics in scrollable windows launched by buttons labeled Help or About in some core dialog boxes are also affected. This includes context help for the small number of ArcToolbox 8.x tools that are still provided in ArcGIS Desktop 9.x.

The help topics that can be accessed by pressing the Help button while inside an ArcGIS Setup program or the ArcGIS Server Post Installation wizard, the glossary pop up topics available in the ArcGIS Desktop Help, and the ArcDOC ArcInfo Workstation help are also affected.

There is no impact on the ArcGIS Desktop Help, context-sensitive help for controls in geoprocessing tool dialog boxes, and the Help button in geoprocessing tool dialog boxes. These all use HTML Help, which is supported on Windows Vista. Some core dialog boxes in ArcMap that have a 'Help' or 'About' button use HTML Help for the topic that is launched and are not affected.

Solution or Workaround

To view context sensitive help in ArcGIS Desktop under affected Windows operating systems, it is necessary to download the Windows Help program (WinHlp32.exe) from Microsoft.

The link is:

Microsoft Website - Windows Help (WinHlp32.exe) program

    Article ID:000009209

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    • ArcMap
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