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

4 Answers 4


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.)

  • 1
    GeoCities has been discontinued, but HelpDeco also has a sourceforge project at sourceforge.net/projects/helpdeco, so it's still possible to get it.
    – SamB
    Jun 3, 2010 at 18:58
  • The original GeoCities page is archived on Oocities here: oocities.org/mwinterhoff/helpdeco.htm (the HELPDECO.ZIP file linked from the page - which contains the decompiler itself - is archived as well). I just used HelpDeco to decompile a HLP file from 1997 on Windows 10 with no issues. It created an RTF file, a few other files, and several indexed-color BMP files. I was able to open the BMP files with both the Windows image viewer and GIMP. Jul 21, 2021 at 23:18

there' s a tutorial about that in this web page: http://www.help-info.de/en/Help_Info_WinHelp/hw_converting.htm


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.

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

  • It isn't free, just the demo version is free
    – harrymc
    Aug 30, 2009 at 18:00

Thanks for your answers, I found this: http://www.herdsoft.com/ftp/downloads.html

  • Hmm, well, that looks like a trial version mostly ...
    – SamB
    Jun 3, 2010 at 19:05

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