What Is an XPS File?

How to Open, Edit, and Convert XPS Files

XPS Files
XPS Files.

A file with the .XPS file extension is an XML Paper Specification file that describes the structure and content of a document, including the layout and appearance. XPS files can be one page or multiple pages.

XPS files were first implemented as a replacement for the EMF format, and are a bit like Microsoft's version of PDFs, but based instead on the XML format. Like PDF, because of the structure of XPS files, their description of a document does not change based on the operating system or printer, and so are consistent across all platforms.

XPS files can be used to share a document with others so that there can be confidence that what you see on the page is the same as what they'll see when they use an XPS viewer program. You can make an XPS file in Windows by "printing" to Microsoft XPS Document Writer when asked which printer to use.

Some XPS files may instead be related to Action Replay files used with some video games, but Microsoft's format is much more common.

How to Open XPS Files

The quickest way to open XPS files in Windows is to use XPS Viewer, which is included with Windows Vista and newer versions of Windows, which includes Windows 7, 8 and 10. You can install the XPS Essentials Pack to open XPS files on Windows XP.

Note: XPS Viewer can be used to set permissions for the XPS file as well as digitally sign the document.

Windows 10 and Windows 8 can also use Microsoft's Reader app to open XPS files.

You can open XPS files on a Mac with Pagemark, NiXPS View or Edit and the Pagemark XPS Viewer plug-in for Firefox and Safari web browsers.

Linux users can use Pagemark's programs to open XPS files too.

Action Replay game files that use the XPS file extension can be opened with PS2 Save Builder.

Since you might need different programs to open different XPS files, see How to Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension in Windows if it's automatically opening in a program that you don't want to use it with.

Tip: If you still can't open your file, check that the file extension actually reads ".XPS" and not something similar like XLS or EPS.

How to Convert an XPS File

One of the fastest ways to convert an XPS file to PDF, JPG, PNG or some other image-based format is to upload the file to Zamzar. Once the file is loaded on that website, you can select from a handful of formats to convert the XPS file to, and then you can download the new file back to your computer.

The website PDFaid.com lets you convert an XPS file directly to a Word document in either the DOC or DOCX format. Just upload the XPS file and choose the conversion format. You can download the converted right there from the website.

The Able2Extract program can do the same but isn't free. It does, however, let you convert an XPS file to an Excel documents, which could be really handy depending on what you're planning to use the file for.

Microsoft's XpsConverter can convert an XPS file to OXPS, while OxpsConverter does the opposite and converts OXPS files to XPS.

With Action Replay files, you can just rename it from whatever.xps to whatever.sps if you want your file to open in programs that support the Sharkport Saved Game file format (.SPS files).

You might also be able to convert it to MD, CBS, PSU, and other similar formats with the PS2 Save Builder program mentioned above.

More Information on the XPS Format

The XPS format is basically Microsoft's attempt at the PDF format. However, PDF is much, much more popular than XPS, which is why you've probably encountered way more PDFs in the form of digital bank statements, product manuals and an output option in lots of document and ebook readers/creators.

If you're wondering whether you should make XPS files yourself, you might consider why that's the case and why you don't just stick with the PDF format.

Most computers have PDF readers that were either built-in or installed manually at some point because they're just that popular, and the two formats aren't that different to want to favor XPS.

Sending someone an XPS file might make them think that it's malware if they aren't familiar with the extension. Also, since mobile devices and Mac computers don't have a built-in XPS viewer (and most do have native PDF support), you're more likely to make someone spend time looking around for an XPS viewer than you would a PDF reader.

The document writer in Windows 8 and newer versions of Windows default to using the .OXPS file extension instead of .XPS. This is why you can't open OXPS files in Windows 7 and older versions of Windows.