KeyTools .chm Decompiler

If you ever need to decompile HTML Help (compiled HTML Help, AKA a .chm or “chum” file) you will find the KeyTools utility useful. It has been unavailable for a while, but the creators, Cheri Zubak and Ralph Walden, have been kind enough to give us permission to distribute it.

You can convert any HTML Help project produced with any help authoring tool to a Doc-To-Help project.  If you only have a .CHM file, you can still convert it, but first you must decompile it — and that’s where the KeyTools utility comes in especially handy.

Thanks Cheri and Ralph — and if you need to reach Cheri, you can find her here:

Cheryl Lockett Zubak
President & Senior Content Strategist
Work Write, Inc.

After downloading and unzipping the file below, rename the file extension from .txt to .exe. Enjoy!

KeyTools decompiler

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About Nicky Bleiel

I am the Lead Information Developer for Doc-To-Help and a Doc-To-Help trainer. I have 19 years of experience in technical communication; writing and designing information for software products in the documentation, media, industrial automation, simulation, and pharmaceutical industries. I am the President of the Society for Technical Communication and have presented talks at the STC Summit, WritersUA, tcworld, CIDM (Content Management Strategies/DITA North America), and LavaCon on many topics, including embedded help, tools and technologies, user assistance design, single sourcing, wikis, social media, agile, and convergence technical communication. I have been published in STC's Intercom, Tieline, STC conference proceedings, tcworld magazine, TechCom Manager Newsletter, and the WritersUA and the Content Wrangler websites. Additionally, I teach Technical Writing at the Community College of Allegheny County.

6 thoughts on “KeyTools .chm Decompiler

  1. Nicky Bleiel Post author

    Hi Mark,

    I should have mentioned that KeyTools includes a number of HTML Help and WinHelp utilities, not just the decompiler. Some may a preference for this decompiler also. Following are all the KeyTools utilities:

    Extracts the source files from a compiled HTML Help (.chm). Also recreates the project file (.hhp file).

    Recompiles one or more .chm files to further reduce its size.

    HTML Help Registry
    Lists all .chm files that have been registered on your computer system. You can add to or remove from the list, or modify the name or location of an entry.

    WinHelp Registry
    Lists all .hlp, .cnt, and other WinHelp files that have been registered on your computer system, with tools for adding, removing, or modifying entries in the list.

    Find HTML Help Components
    Locates all HTML Help development files on your computer system so that you can check versions and, if necessary, remove duplicates.

    Find WinHelp Components
    Locates all WinHelp development files on your computer so that you can manage duplicates and resolve conflicts.

    Find HTML Help Files
    Locates all HTML Help files (.chm, .chi, .chw, .chq, and so forth) on your computer system, so that you can review or delete them.

    Find WinHelp Files
    Locates all WinHelp files (.hlp, .cnt, .gid, .fts, .ftg) on your computer system, so that you can review or delete them.

    Examine CHM File
    Opens a special viewer, from which you can examine the contents of a .chm file. You can also start this tool by right-clicking a .chm file and choosing Examine.

    1. Robert CHnadler

      Just answering Mark’s question…
      The KeyTools decompiler not only extracts the content files from a .chm help file, but also does a very good job of reconstructing the project, index and TOC files (.HHP/.HHK/.HHC ).

      I’m glad Nicky preserved the download (Thanks!). The Help MVPs also worked with Ralph to preserve the original Keyworks web site here:

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