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Finding, Downloading, and Installing MSDN Library for VB6 on Modern Windows (Kim Gentes/Worship Tech Blog)

If you have had to regress to installing Visual Basic 6 studio on your modern Windows OS (Windows 7, 8 or such) to support or maintain some older software, you will quickly remember the ease of the integrated MSDN library that came as part of the embedded help you could install with VB6.  Today, if you do not have the original discs that the MSDN library came on, it can be next to impossible to figure out where to get the right version MSDN help that works with VB6, and once you have it, how to install it best for your VB6 use.

This is just a quick guide to help you locate where to download it, get it installed and up and running with your VB6 studio.  The guide has 4 main sections:

  1. Downloading the MSDN Library
  2. Extracting the MSDN Library
  3. Installing the MSDN Library
  4. Test the MSDN Library with VB6

Download the MSDN Library for Visual Basic 6

If you already have the downloaded MSDN library from Oct 2001, skip ahead to the appropriate section and follow the extraction/installation instructions as appropriate. If you don't have anything, read this guide through completely and you will be able to download, extract and install the MSDN library for VB 6.

To legally download the MSDN Library for VB 6, you must be a paid Visual Studio Subscriber. You cannot get access to the oldest archived MSDN Libraries (this one is from 2001) without a paid level Visual Studio subscription (formerly called MSDN subscription).

Let me pause for a moment-- YES, you can download the MSDN Library 2001 edition from other non-legit sources around the internet. But I do not, and will not, recommend that. Three reasons: 1) It's illegal. 2) Those sites often are simply hackers using the bait of "free downloads" to get a virus installed on your computer. and 3) I have looked at a number of those sites claiming to archive this specific download and all of them exclude some part of the MSDN Oct 2001 Library from their download chunks- that is, it is missing some part that makes it incomplete.  You can hassle and try to figure out if you have all the parts, if they are legit, if they are filled with viruses and if they will work. Or, you can simply use a legit Visual Studio subscription.  

I have tried using the free Visual Studio account that anyone can get (Visual Studio Dev Essentials), but it doesn't allow access to the MSDN October 2001 Library (or any of the older MSDN Library downloads from what I can see).  I was able to access it via Professional, Test and Enterprise level subscriptions.

Once you have your Visual Studio subscription login, then you can go to the download location quickly:

STEP 1: When you click on this link, MS will force you to login to your Visual Studio account.  You must use your Visual Studio Subscriber Login to access this link: 

STEP 2: You should see the "2001-10 MSDN Library October" shown in the download results.  You will note the bold, blue box that says "Download". Click that box to reveal your download options.

STEP 3:To get the full MSDN library to work with your VB6 Studio, download the "MSDN Library October 2001 - Full Setup (English)" (this file will be called "en_msdn_library_october2001_dvd.exe"). Alternatively, you can download 3 separate ISO files for CD-ROMs. NOTE: the total download is about 1.2Gb so it will take 20 minutes or so on a 1Mb/sec connection


Extract the MSDN Library Installation

STEP 1: Go the location where the download is located.

STEP 2: Double click the file "en_msdn_library_october2001_dvd.exe" and run it. It will open a WinZip extractor application.

STEP 3: Click "Unzip" and the MSDN Library install files will be extracted to the directory you selected.

STEP 4: Once completed, click "OK" on the WinZip completed dialog (should show something like 18981 files extracted). Then close "Close" on the WinZip Self-extractor app.

STEP 5: In the directory in which the files were extracted you should now see a complete Setup.exe and associated files and directories.


Install the MSDN Library

STEP 1: Double click the "setup.exe" file and it will begin the install of the MSDN Library

STEP 2: Welcome Screen - click continue.

STEP 3: Name & Org - Enter what you'd like, click OK

STEP 4: Confirm Name & Org - Click OK

STEP 5: Product ID Screen - Click OK

STEP 6: License Agreement - Click "I Agree"

STEP 7: Choose Install - In most cases, you can choose Typical, however, if you are just installing MSDN Library for VB6 usage, choose Custom

STEP 8: Options List - Choose the first 3 options in the custom install, and scroll down to select any other portions you wish to install of the library. Click "Continue"

STEP 9: Desktop Shortcut - click Yes or No, whatever you would like.

STEP 10: Let the MSDN Library install run. It may take several moments.

STEP 11: Install Complete - Click OK

Test the MSDN Library with VB6

Now, when you run VB6, you can use F1 on any location in your code and VB context help will expand and link instantly as appropriate.

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Reader Comments (8)

Great detail, very helpful. Thank you!

May 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRick

important for me to develop interesting programs

January 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMCBIRADAR

i cant be a subscriber for msdn. i cant find "subscription id" :/

February 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermrkmsn

i really need the vb6 msdn but can i direct download?

May 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenteredwin


you must have a valid MSDN subscription. My intention on this blog is to post how to help people with answering some technical questions, not giving people ways of illegally accessing content.

May 9, 2017 | Registered CommenterKim Gentes

Very helpful, thank you!

I needed the MSDN installed for the Resource Editor option in VB 6.

While Microsoft's webpage has changed the process from when Ken documented the download steps, you should be able to find it, and the good news is- MS made the process more efficient - less steps.

August 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Mark, thanks for the note. I have reviewed what you said and updated my article to the appropriate newer information. Thanks for your help, and for pointing this out.

I have updated this post with the corrected information for the new location of the downloads for the archived MSDN Library (2001 / October). Currently, you need one of the paid subscription levels to Visual Studio. The free one does not give access to this download. Microsoft did release many other things in the archive to its free downloads area, but these archives are not released free via Microsoft downloads. The above article works and is confirmed as the proper process for the newly updated download area in Visual Studio subscription.

August 6, 2018 | Registered CommenterKim Gentes

Lo sentimos, no encontramos ninguna descarga para usted.

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNeriel

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