Guide to Open .XPS File Extension on Your Browser

By Sidharth | How-to

Microsoft is known not only for Windows operating system but also for development of extensions which not many of the people are familiar with. Microsoft never tends to stop developing, releasing programs and extensions like DOCX file format, forcing people to download Microsoft 2007, or find a alternative way to open those files!

In this article, we will look at yet another Microsoft extension, named XPS, and we’ll learn more about XPS extension, which is an alternative for PDF format.

What is XPS File Extension

XPS is XML Paper Specification which is used in Windows Printing machine and doesn’t support non Microsoft platforms (Only Windows, before printing you can save the file in “Microsoft XPS Document Writer” and Print it in a Paper format).

Update 2012: I have also compiled a guide to not only open, convert but also edit XPS files on both Windows and Mac. Quite a good amount of information has been published recently — only to help you understand everything about XPS file format.

XPS File Format

Now the problem is “How to open XPS files on your computer?” If you are on the Windows Vista platform then there is no need to download any plugin or software to open XPS files, double click on the saved XPS file to view the content! This is because both the .NET framework and XPS file viewer is previously installed on Windows Vista.

If you are downloading any Windows  user Manual or Ebook guide then you will find files in XPS and PDF format. Though you can convert xps to pdf files and open them in your PDF viewer but another alternative to open & view XPS files are suggested here (For other platform such as Windows XP or Windows server 2003)

Open XPS file: Several Methods

There are a couple of easy-to-do ways to open and edit XML Paper Specification format files on your Windows-only machine. The way I’d recommend is to use addons which are freely available for both Windows and Mac OS X users.

So, if you want to open files ending with the .XPS extension, here are the most preferable way to do so:

Open XPS File in Firefox browser

If you are not using Internet explorer for some reason and want to open .XPS on Firefox then download this IE tab extension.

Restart the Firefox browser, configure the settings and you are ready to open, read XPS format file without sweating bullets.

Open XPS File in Internet Explorer

After opening Internet explorer, click on File, then Open and Choose your .XPS file. Note that you will be asked to open in a new tab to view the file. So, in simple words, yes, you can also set Internet Explorer as the default program to read XPS file!

Viewing XPS Files on Windows XP

Microsoft provides free XPS reader which is 2.8mb and can be downloaded from here but make sure you have .NET framework installed on your PC! If not you will be asked to download the missing .Net framework.

About the Author

Hi, I am Sidharth. Full-time blogger. Editor of Blogote. And a self-proclaimed geek!

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(34) comments

KELELA April 28, 2011


Rashid Khan February 13, 2011

Hello, Its was very helpful for me to understand, what is XPS?, Now i have learnt About Xps and can share with onthers.

Rashid Khan.

shahul January 21, 2011

dear sid

thanks for the xps explanation. God guide you always


Ruzie December 23, 2010

Thanks, Sid. I was going crazy with these .xps files. Just learnt that they won’t open in Chrome, and can only view them in Internet Explorer. So, yes, I am forced to use Microsoft’s extension… 🙁

I know trying to remove it will be futile as well… unless I wanna start removing Microsoft as well…? 😉

Merry X’mas!

medo December 16, 2010

Thanks Sid!

Fiona November 25, 2010

thanks sooo much for the tip – I had to urgently convert this silly xps file for a visa application with a deadline and you saved me!:)

Chris M October 18, 2010

The most


file format

E V E R!

Thanks Microsoft. This gives me even more of an impetus to convert the office I manage over to Google Apps and Open Office. FU2

Elle October 10, 2010

You are completely wrong. I have Windows Vista and if I try to open a Microsoft xps file, it does not open like you describe. I get a Firefox popup that asks me what program I want to use to open the file. If I select xps viewer, I get a new tab in Firefox that asks me the same question. Useless.

    Stacey March 30, 2011

    I know this is a little late and you may have already received a response to this, but it seems as if you MUST use Internet Explorer to open these – not Firefox. Good Luck!

Michael Enders September 14, 2010

Oh great, Microsoft comes up with an alternative to the PDF file, which is nearly universal and works perfectly fine, but which Microsoft does not control. I just received my first XPS file, an estimate on repairs for my car. Nothing in my MAC operating system could open it, so I had to fire up Windows, which I only use when absolutely necessary and find XPS viewer, which automatically tried to open in Safari, my default browser, so I had to switch browser to the virus-prone Internet Explorer and open it again. A PDF file could be opened in any browser with the appropriate add-ins in any operating system. I hope this crap doesn’t become common!

    therectumfier March 10, 2011

    Don’t capitalize Mac. MAC stands for something completely different (Media Access Control). Also, .xps opens fine with microsoft word 2011

Osvaldo August 29, 2010

Congratulations Sid. Thank you.

Syed Masood Hiader March 13, 2010

Hi..!!! thanks for the Microsoft Corporation that how they tackle with the new technology and emerged with alternative (Thrid Party Software) worked smoothly…
Microsoft is just Awsome Wish them best of luck and reward it with such a great IT upgradition and deployment….

Engr Syed Masood Haider

Net Success February 25, 2010

Thanks man, I just downloaded the microsoft XPS viewer, it should do the trick. I also agree that XPS is pretty bad.

Chris February 10, 2010

.XPS files are actually .ZIP files full of other supporting files.
Rename them to .ZIP instead of .XPS, and you can then look at the files inside directly.

For example – the “guts” of whats being printed on page 1 lives inside the XML file “Documents\1\Pages\1.fpage” inside the .zip

    Gai November 26, 2010

    but how do you renamed them without opening them!? Or do you mean (re)name them as a .ZIP file at the time of initially saving them…..when the program or browser one is working within “suggests” the .XPS suffix in the first place!

Glenn Meisenheimer December 23, 2009

Well.. I am running Vista. It seems to have .Net version 3.5. It does not know how to open a .xps file. The recommend patch above is to install .Net 3.0. I'm not sure that's the right thing to do. I wonder what else I'll break if I do that since I already have a newer version?

christ December 7, 2009

I tried going to “open” in IE and selecting my .xps file. It decided to save it to my computer (basically copied the file for me) and then not open it. XP Pro.

me December 3, 2009

Thank You for a Great Article. Helped alot.

Qhiron November 19, 2009

trying to open .XPS in entourage, your IE tab for Firefox doesn't work.


    Pam November 20, 2009

    I haven't added any IE viewer yet. Which works best–IE Tab, IE View, IE View lite, or Open in IE?
    (and that's “Shucks, Ma'am”)

Qhiron November 19, 2009

your firefox IE tab doesn't work

Pam November 12, 2009

The only thing that worked was opening in IE. I have Vista, and even though it says I have that XPS viewer, it didn't work. The Firefox extension didn't install to my version (3.5.5). Thanks for the info; it was quite helpful!

Mike October 26, 2009

For XPS Viewer you should try XPS Annotator, its great XPS Viewer and free.

    Margie February 21, 2010

    Thank you!!!!! It worked!

pceasies October 25, 2009

Well, I need to print off a document in a graphing application (that I was using through Remote Desktop). I just printed it to the XPS printer (saved is as .xps) and transfered it back to my local computer. Opened great in Windows 7 I just installed yesterday and printed right off without a hitch.

Neil October 23, 2009

For XPS Viewer i found XPS Annotator, this tool is so great and free.

    thanks December 3, 2009

    Thanks Neil. Tried it and worked fine.

gavin October 13, 2009

Is there A way to save as directly into PDF ? EXP is in simple words a BIG FLOP !!!

Doug September 29, 2009

Ditto. IE didn’t open the file.

Toni September 21, 2009

I could not open the .xps file in Internet Explorer. The directions were not helpful in may case.

leslie July 29, 2009

xps is indeed awful, just wasted already three hours on finding an answer, my older Xp computer does not want to install the Frame Network and nothing so far (from all the advice) has helped me. Firefox installed the Add on but does not open the file, keeps on asking the same thing, over and over. Yuck, why are we in 2009 still having those agonizing extensions, there should be a law against such crap.

Sibyl Reed June 23, 2009

xps is awful. How do I get rid of it and how ddid it get on my computer.

Sarah May 28, 2009

I had trouble opening .xps document without using IE. Thank god now I know there is an add on for firefox to open .xps file.

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