A alternative help viewer for VS 2002/2003/2005/2208 .HxS help files. Requires that VS help is installed.

Last Update: V1.4.6, 2:30am, 20-Nov-2009 (EST Australia)

Beta Release V1.4.7. Fixes exception on startup some people see.

See Also: MS Help H2 Info Page

Note: The Agent Text-To-Speech character is no longer supported by Microsoft Operating Systems and so no longer incoluded in H2Viewer.exe


  • H2Viewer is an MS Help 2.x collection viewer similar to DExplore
    (DExplore is the MS viewer used by VS .NET, MSDN, TechNet etc).

  • H2Viewer uses the same MS Help 2 API backend as DExplore. So you can't bypass MS Help 2 installation.

  • H2Viewer has been extracted from our product FAR HTML because of numerous requests for a standalone viewer.

  • H2Viewer has numerous command-line parameters and a COM interface. The command-line options include a single instance feature.


  • This product is provided free, as is, with no support. All Helpware products are now free. See Blog


Q. Can I ship H2Viewer with my product?

A. Yes. But why would you want to? H2Viewer depends on the same DLLs (runtime API files) that ship with DExplore. So why not just use DExplore?

Q. How compatible is H2Viewer with Microsoft's DExplore?

A. H2Viewer relies on the same H2 API calls and ActiveX TOC and Index controls.

Q. MS Agent reader appears but wont speak?

A. For windows XP you will need to install SAPI 4.0 (Speech API).

Q. H2Viewer sometimes locks up for several minuets. Can you fix this?

A. When a collection is loaded for the first time or loaded after a change is made to the collection you will see a message followed by a long delay as Windows rebuilds Index and lookup tables. This is part of MS Help 2 not under our control. Have a cup of coffee and come back in 5 minutes.

Q. Search results are truncated at 500 items?

A. This a limitation of MS Help 2 not the viewer. MS are working on a solution.

Q. Filters are great but take so long to edit and change. Can I speed this up?

A. Again it is a limitation of MS Help 2. Computers will get faster and MS will improve it over time.

Q. Sometimes when I plug-in a collection using my authoring tool the TOC disappears.

A. The TOC disappearing tells you that the collection you are authoring is not syntactically correct. Read our online tutorial and try comparing your collection with our demo collection: MS H2 Collection Tutorial.

Q. How do I create MS Help 2 content.

A. Our free product called FAR HTML contains Wizards to get you going quickly. Our free product H2Reg allows you to quickly register H2 collections at installation time.


Change Notes

  • 2003-03-09: V0.0.1.0 -- First release.

  • 2003-04-19: V1.0.0.0 -- Promote beta to full version.

  • 2003-06-15: V1.1.1.0 -- Added 3 new commands (cmd-line and COM Interface): Index(), Search(), PageTab(). Also added "Export Index as Text" to File menu.

  • 2003-07-31: V1.2.0.0 -- Fixed copy to clipboard from browser control. Added /XNav command line option. This means you can now use /helpcol cmd line switch in every call and H2Viewer will not reload a collection if it is already loaded.

  • 2003-08-26: V1.2.2.0 -- Fix agent reader. Version 1.2.0 had stopped agent reader from working correctly.

  • 2003-09-05: V1.2.3.0 -- Fixed corrupted H2 TOC and Index component which causing "unspecified error" on start up in 1.2.2.

  • 2003-10-14: V1.3.0.0 -- Compiled with an older version of 3rd party component for more stability especially during shutdown.
    New: Reader menu now gives access to all installed MS Speech API Text-To-Speech engines. More variety and control of voice.
    Browser Stop button also stops the speech.

  • 2003-10-15: V1.3.1.0 -- Now checks for MS Help 2 runtime being installed before opening the window.

  • 2003-12-06: V1.3.2.0 -- Fix: Under Windows 98 a OleInitialize failure message appeared at startup.

  • 2004-06-23: V1.3.3.0 -- Fix: Using COM if you connect and immediately do a WindowShow=1 in the Compiler IDE you would get catastrophic failure message.

  • 2004-07-11: V1.3.4.0 -- A file Settings.ini can be setup to substitute individual words read during text-to-speech. Better solution for 1.3.3 bug: When connecting to the H2Viewer COM server, you should now poll Obj.WindowHandle until it becomes non-zero, indicating the H2Viewer window is initialized and ready to accept commands. Also by default the Navigation pane (left) is initially closed, but will open automatically to the TOC when a Collection is loaded. This works better for users who simply want to drop on a web page (say http://safaribooksonline.com/) and read via text-to-speech.

  • 2005-02-26 V1.3.5.0 -- Fix search result highlighting in the document.

  • 2009-11-20 V1.4.6.0 -- Now Unicode application. Text-To-Speech now works on Vista and Windows 7.

  • 2010-07-15 V1.4.6.0 -- Now in proper install. Also uploaded to VS Gallery.

  • 2013-05-30 V1.4.7.0 -- Fix: When registered as a COM server starting H2Viewer.exe would show an exception.