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Is there any free (as in bird) tool to convert windows help files (*.hlp) to a more user friendly format such as html/rtf?

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Some searching revealed this free tool, HelpDeco. I tried it out and it seems to be able to create an RTF file from a standard HLP file (using the "/r" option). It generates images as well, but it seemed to create BMP files which wouldn't display in Word 2007 or Wordpad. (I assume converting them to WMF or PNG files might make them display properly.)

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GeoCities has been discontinued, but HelpDeco also has a sourceforge project at, so it's still possible to get it. – SamB Jun 3 '10 at 18:58

there' s a tutorial about that in this web page:

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ABC Amber HLP Converter allows you to create printable, manual-quality documents from Microsoft Windows Help files. The program converts hlp files to any document (and database) format you wish - PDF, RTF, HTML, DOC, CHM, TXT, DBF, XML, CSV, XLS, MDB, etc.

EDIT: I found a free solution, but this will convert HLP to RTF only, it might suit your needs. It's a command line decompiler but some gentle soul has written a GUI for it. Here goes:

Download Help Decompiler 2.1 and HlpDecoGUI and extract both archives to the same folder.

For the first time you launch HlpDecoGUI you'll have to point to the decompiler (HELPDECO.EXE), then pick the HLP file you wish to decompile, select the output directory and hit start.

alt text

This is an optional part of a nice tutorial about Converting WinHelp (HLP) to HTMLHelp (CHM)

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It isn't free, just the demo version is free – harrymc Aug 30 '09 at 18:00

Thanks for your answers, I found this:

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Hmm, well, that looks like a trial version mostly ... – SamB Jun 3 '10 at 19:05

I don't believe that such a free tool exists. I had a look in some of my favorite freeware sites and haven't found any tools at all that operate on hlp files.
The converter pointed-to by Molly, ABC Amber HLP Converter at $19.95, seems to be correct as to the price, but I have had no experience with such tools.

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Well, despite your beliefs, it seems that such a free tool has existed for at least 4-5 years, judging by the date on which the project was created. – SamB Jun 3 '10 at 19:04
@SamB: Helpdeco is also dead - no new development since 2005. The site claims support for Windows 3.11 and 95, LOL. All other solutions are commercial and don't answer the question. So in the end, my answer is the correct one. – harrymc Jun 3 '10 at 19:38

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