Microsoft .chm free software

I am looking to produce a .chm file - I found WinCHM which seems quite good but its 100 dollars - am i right in thinking that microsoft has a free .chm maker software - if so can someone give me the hyperlink to it and some links to how to use it -

I found WinCHM very easy to use with lots of useful features - how good is the one from microsoft !
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This one is only $20


I cannot find anything from Microsoft, and everything I HAVE found is trial-ware.

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b0lsc0ttIT ManagerCommented:

The one from MS is often included in other programs.  It is the compiler since the chm format is proprietary.  It is free and it looks like the second comment above has a link to its download page.  It is easy to use for compliling but it definitely doesn't make it easy to create the HTML pages, keywords, contents, etc that are part of and a key to a good CHM file.

It can be very worthwhile to buy a good program.  My personal favorite from those I tested is Help&Manual (  I also liked HelpScribble (  They simplify the process and provide tools, especially Help&Manual, to make some of the really nice extras.

The answer really is in the second comment  though.  That is the free MS program and a very useful one, even if just to compile the project and make the chm.  I do hope this helps though.  The cost can be very worthwhile.  Let me know if you have any questions or need more information.

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nathan1038Author Commented:
Hmm  b0lsc0t that's a real nice product but it has a 600 dollar price tag - that's a litlte pricy for me. Anything around the 50 mark that you recomend ! I liked WinCHM - it had a good interface and was relativly easy to use - although i gather that with helpandmanual you may be able to create a more professional finish

(but then maybe not, depending on your html skills )
Well, if the Microsoft one works well to compile the CHM's you could use that along with another HTML editor. Do you have FrontPage? That would offer a free solution for you.
b0lsc0ttIT ManagerCommented:
WinCHM looks pretty nice.  I don't remember if I have evaluated it before but it does have the important features and looks like it would be easy to use.  The WYSIWYG feature is real important unless you just love writing HTML and know how to style and format for the Help page.  The design for html help pages is definitely different from normal web pages.

Are you going to be integrating the CHM file in a program (i.e. having your program bring up a specific page in the CHM file)?  What about a Contents?  Index?

Those can be more complicated.  The contents is usually not too hard but to get a program be able to access a specific page or have keywords and an index can take a lot more work.  A specialized program can be a real time saver in this (and save a lot of frustration too :)).

Just some thoughts and info.  Let me know if you have a question or how this helps.

for really free tools see:

Look for "HelpMaker" and other tools. You may find some more stuff on my site ;-)

I'm not quite sure, whether you really need a "integrated" authoring tools for HTML Help 1.4 (.chm). For plain CHM's sometimes I use HTMLHelp Workshop only (of course a HTML editor and some other tricks like using <h1>,<h2> tags too).

Assuming you have a ready made HTMLHelp project (*.HHP) project for your CHM file I recommend the use of a good HTML editor like Frontpage, Expression Web or Dreamweaver in addition with FAR. This means edit the tpoic content, right-click your *.HHP file and click "Compile with FAR".

Of course, I'm a friend of FAR because the really hard job is to create the content (topics), the Table of Contents (TOC) and index  and not to compile a CHM.

It's important to note (maybe it's useful for you), that FAR has wizards and is generating the TOC from the folder structure. Just author or generate your HTML files, make good content, set good <title> tags and create the files in a folder structure like this:


Set one option in the Preferences Dialog > HTMLHelp 'Replace "_" with " " in TOC Labels' and have a look at the "Drop File Filters" Dialog for FrontPage webs e.g.
Drag & drop the base folder of your help to FAR's file list. Use the wizard - that's it!
I really recommend using  the wizard and don't have a look at all the features of FAR as a beginner (see later). Using the wizard sometimes (Menu > Authoring > Help Wizard) you make a CHM file in some minutes!

Note the trick, from the structure above, getting folders like "First Steps" and "Technical Information". In first case topic "first_step.htm" is automatically related to the node (a book in HTMLHelp TOC).

Generating a single word index from <title> or <meta ..> tags maybe done with KIT: 
Just overwrite the index file generated by hand or with FAR, compile again and see who it looks like.

I you are a programmer you maybe interested in the Microsoft Sandcastle project: 

Best regards
Ulrich Kulle
Microsoft MVP - Windows Help

** edited by b0lsc0tt **
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