The help system changed in Visual Studio 2010. I totally had a "Who Moved My Cheese" moment, as did many folks.
If you don't install the Help Documentation at the end of the Visual Studio 2010 setup, you help will be online and shown in your default browser. Personally, I like the idea of an external help viewer. I just saw on the Help Team's blog that they released the Help Viewer Power Tool today. It's an unsupported local content Help Viewer.
First, make sure your Help Content is installed locally, rather than served from the web.
When you've got local help content setup, go install the Help Viewer Power Tool. So what do you get?
The Help Viewer Power Tool supports two modes: in-browser and standalone.
Here's what your in-browser Help will look like. Notes the Contents, Search Results and Index on the left:
Here's the standalone Help Viewer. Once you've run it, you can also pin it to Explorer in Windows 7.
How do I switch to standalone mode?
How do I switch back to in-browser mode?
If you're installing on a non-English system, make sure you read the Readme to make sure your localized help is shown. Also, if you only have IE6, you'll need IE8.
As an aside, you can also just go to the Tools | Extension Manager inside VS2010, and query something like "help viewer power" and you can get to the download page from inside VS.
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.