About using video files

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About using video files

Video files used in Help+Manual and the output formats it generates are always handled by the associated players and codecs, not by Help+Manual itself. These players and the necessary codecs for the specific formats must be properly installed, both on your computer for editing and on the user's computer or mobile device for viewing. Because of this a number of restrictions apply that you should be aware of before using video files in your projects.

Basically, only MP4 and online video sharing sites are reliable

For reliable video, use only MP4 video or online video sharing sites for video in your Help+Manual projects. All other video formats will cause problems. You can still use Flash SWF videos in HTML Help/CHM help files, because it is always supported there. Flash should generally be avoided on other platforms, however. It is no longer supported on any mobile platforms and desktop support is also fading fast.

MP4 will be generally compatible provided you encode it with a standard profile using H.264 for video and MP3 or AAC for the audio. Online video sharing sites like YouTube handle all the compatibility problems for you and reduce the bandwidth load on your own website, which can otherwise be considerable if many people view your videos.

Support for media files in output formats:


Use Flash SWF video or online video services in CHM. Flash is reliable in the Microsoft CHM viewer and is the only format that can be embedded in the CHM file. YouTube and other online video sharing services will also work reliably, but they do require online access for viewing. Help+Manual handles this so that the online site is only accessed when the user actually clicks on the preview image to start the video.

All other video formats will cause problems in CHM files for at least some of your users and should be avoided at all costs.

WebHelp (HTML):

Supports all media formats supported by the user's browser, but only MP4 and online video services can now be considered to be really reliable.

Flash SWF should generally be avoided now because it will not play on mobile devices and a growing number of laptop and desktop users also no longer have support for Flash installed. It is no longer installed by default on any Apple computers, for example, and many Mac experts now warn users against installing it because of its negative effect on battery life.

EWriter eBooks for Windows:

Same video support as in WebHelp.

ePUB eBooks:

M4V video files encoded with an Apple profile for the iPad or iPhone are supported in ePUB in Apple iBooks on Apple iOS devices. They will not play on the great majority of other devices and software readers.

M4V videos must be created in the correct format for iOS devices with Apple QuickTime or a third-party program like the free weblink Handbrake (highly recommended) that comes with correct profiles for these devices.

Kindle eBooks:

No support for video.

Adobe PDF:

No support for video files except external links.


No support for video files except external links.

See Conditions and Customized Output for details on creating alternative content for different output formats.

Embedding video files:

Flash videos are embedded in HTML Help (CHM). MP4 video files can also be embedded in Windows EWriter eBooks. All other video files must be distributed with your help as separate files, including Flash SWF video files when used in WebHelp (HTML). Flash SWF videos inserted with the Insert Video tool will be exported to your WebHelp output folder automatically, however.

When you publish your project a list of any files you need to distribute together with your help is displayed in the compiler report if necessary, so always remember to check this!

The video preview function in Help+Manual

Functionality in Help+Manual also depends on the players

How and whether the preview function works in Help+Manual also depends on the player installation on your computer. If the necessary players or codecs are not available or not installed properly the preview function will not work.

You may need administrator rights to run the preview function

On some systems you need to be working in a Windows account with full administrator rights to use the movie preview function. If the function doesn't work and you know that the correct player is installed try switching to a full administrator account.

See also:

Videos and Animated Media