Download the Free Microsoft Help Compiler


HelpScribble needs the Microsoft Help Compiler to compile your project into a .hlp WinHelp file that can be viewed on any Windows computer, without the use of HelpScribble. The .hlp format, developed by Microsoft, is not officially documented. Therefore, HelpScribble uses the help compiler provided by Microsoft to make sure that your help files are 100% compatible with all Windows computers. The compilation process is completely transparent. Just pick Project|Make from HelpScribble's menu and it will invoke the help compiler in the background and display the result when the compiler has finished its job.

HelpScribble can work together with HC.EXE, HC31.EXE and HCP.EXE for creating 16-bit WinHelp files, which work with Windows 3.1 and later. HelpScribble can also use HCRTF.EXE for creating 32-bit Winhelp files which work out of the box on Windows 95, 98, ME, NT4, 2000, and XP. Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1 require users to download the WinHelp viewer separately from Microsoft. Windows 10 and 11 do not support WinHelp. Look up "help compiler" in the index of HelpScribble's help file to learn all about the difference between 16-bit and 32-bit WinHelp files, and which option you should choose. Basically, you will want to use a 16-bit WinHelp file for 16-bit software, and a 32-bit WinHelp file otherwise.

Note that HC and HC31 are old DOS programs and suffer from the 640K barrier. This means that they will report and "out of memory" error message pretty soon when your project starts to grow. So their use is not recommended. HCP and HCRTF do not have this limitation.

Chances are high that you already have a WinHelp compiler. They ship with most popular development tools for Windows, like the ones from Microsoft and Borland. If so, HelpScribble will automatically find and use them. If you do not have a functioning help compiler yet, you can download (320 kB) here. This file includes both HCP for 16-bit WinHelp and HCRTF for 32-bit WinHelp. Unzip the file into your HelpScribble folder, or wherever else you want. Then pick Project|Options in HelpScribble and click the Find Help Compilers button.


If you want to compile your help file into Microsoft's new HTML Help format, you will need to download and install the Microsoft HTML Help Workshop.

HTML Help is supported by Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, and 11. In theory, it is possible to upgrade Windows 95 and NT4 by installing Microsoft Internet Explorer and the HTML Help OCX controls. However, Windows 95 users in particular will not appreciate HTML Help because it will function very slowly on their old computers, while WinHelp shows the help topics instantly.

For more information about the differences between WinHelp and HTML Help, and advice on how to choose the best format for your application, look up "How to Choose Between WinHelp and HTML Help" in the help file that comes with HelpScribble. We have included that help file in both .hlp and .chm format, compiled from exactly the same HelpScribble project. We did this to allow you to easily compare both formats and make an informed choice.

You Need HelpScribble