Test-drive the SP1 local Help Viewer

UPDATE: These instructions are for the Beta and are superseded by my
instructions for setting up the SP1 RTM local Help Viewer.

The Beta version of the new local Help Viewer is now publicly available as part of the Visual Studio 2010 SP1 Beta. To learn more about the changes we’ve made, check out my recent blog post on Help Viewer improvements in SP1. To learn more about other changes in SP1, check out the official announcement.

Here’s a quick walkthrough of what you need to do to evaluate the new local viewer.

Step 1: Install Visual Studio 2010 SP1

Download the SP1 Beta and follow the installation instructions.

SP1 Beta will upgrade Microsoft Help Viewer 1.0 to version 1.1 and it will uninstall the Help Viewer Power Tool (if present). It will not, however, replace any third-party help applications you may have installed. And, if you’re using the HelpViewerKeywordIndex add-in, you’ll find it is unaffected by SP1.

Step 2: Configure the local Help Viewer

  1. Launch the Visual Studio IDE and select “Manage Help Settings” from the Help menu.
  2. In Help Library Manager, select “Choose online or local help” and set your preferred help experience to “I want to use local help.”
  3. If you have not already downloaded help content, select “Install content from online” in Help Library Manager and choose the content you want locally available.

If you’re currently using a third-party viewer and you wish to evaluate the SP1 Beta local viewer, you have several options.  In the specific case of H3Viewer, you can change the default viewer in the the Options menu.  Another option is to uninstall the third-party viewer from the Control Panel.  You can do this before or after installing SP1. Once the third-party viewer is successfully uninstalled, the SP1 viewer automatically becomes the help experience for Visual Studio 2010.

A more advanced option is to remove the registry setting that configures the third-party viewer as the default help viewer. To do this, you’ll:

  1. Launch Regedit with administrative privileges and browse to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Help\v1.0
  2. If the HelpViewerProgID entry exists, right-click on it and delete it

Please remember to backup your registry (or create a System Restore point) before performing this operation.

Step 3: Provide feedback

The best way to report a bug or suggest a feature is to log into Connect using your Windows Live ID.  Use the bug or suggestion form for Visual Studio 2010.  Feedback logged in Connect is routed directly to our engineering team and is reviewed during our daily triage meetings.

If you don’t want to submit your feedback in Connect, you can:

Thanks in advance for any time you take out of your day to help us make Help Viewer better.

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