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How can I install the Visual Studio help content offline?

Installation of offline help has changed (again). For the latest versions of Visual Studio (up to 2019, at the moment), you need to include the Help Viewer during installation, or at it later with the “Modify” option in the Visual Studio Installer.

You can find the “Help Viewer” option under “Codetools”, in the “Individual components” tab of the installer.

Visual Studio Installer

Once you’ve enabled the Help Viewer, you can find commands under the Visual Studio “Help” menu to control its behavior: “Add and Remove Help Content” allows you to select what documentation areas will be available offline, while the “Set Help Preference” menu allows you to specify whether to display offline help in a browser window or using the Help Viewer.

Help menu

Note that changes to the Help Viewer need to be made in an elevated process (i.e. under an admin account). If you usually operate the computer using a non-admin account, you’ll need to log in as an admin to update the offline help content, because it requires the running process to be the same user account as the actual logged in account.

Help Viewer

Some machines I am using help viewer on doesn’t have access to the internet. Is it possible to download the help content with help viewer from one computer and then transfer it to another machine, and import the help data with help viewer on that machine?

Yes, you can follow these steps:

  1. Install the content on your internet connected machine
  2. Go to this folder %ProgramData%\Microsoft\HelpLibrary2\Catalogs\VisualStudio15\
  3. Copy it’s contents to a flash drive or other medium
  4. Paste it into the same location (from 2.) on the offline machine
  5. Launch the Help Viewer and it should pick up all the content automatically


Visual Studio, Help, Help Viewer, offline