What is an .XPS file and how to open, view and edit one

You’ve more than likely heard of PDF files. In fact, you probably use them on a regular basis at work or in school. But what about XPS files? 


In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about the XPS format. We’ll cover the .XPS meaning, how to open them and the pros and cons of using them.

What you’ll learn.





What is an .XPS document?


An XPS document uses a fixed document format - which represents a digital document using the XML mark-up language. It’s similar to a PDF file, but far less popular and with certain limitations. If you work in Microsoft Office, you may come across them. 


XPS documents are saved in Microsoft’s proprietary XPS format and use the .XPS file extension.


What does .XPS stand for?


XPS stands for ‘XML Paper Specification’. That’s because it contains page layout information written in the XML page description language. Essentially, this type of language describes the structure and content of a document, including its layout and appearance, making it suited for printing for example.

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History of the .XPS file.


Microsoft designed the XPS format to replace the Enhanced Metafile format (.EMF). Business users were first able to create XPS documents with the release of Microsoft Vista in 2006. But it wasn’t until 2007 that XPS files came into more widespread use, when consumer editions of Vista became available.


The XPS format is Microsoft’s alternative to the PDF format. However, most people are unfamiliar with the XPS file because the PDF format is commonly used as the standard for saving and presenting documents. But if you work in Microsoft Office, then you may still come across them.



What are .XPS files used for?


XPS files offer an easy way to create, save, share and print digital documents. Let’s look at some of their uses in more detail:


Creating digital documents.


You can use XPS files to create a wide scope of digital documents, whether it be for work, leisure or educational purposes. 


Sharing digital documents.


You can easily share XPS files with others. So long as they have an XPS Viewer, they’ll be able to view the document.


Saving digital documents. 


Saving your digital documents in a fixed XPS format means you can preserve the integrity of the document.  


Printing digital documents.


XPS files are designed to provide optimal printing qualities. This can be useful if you need to print a hard copy or want to share the document with someone who doesn’t have access to a printer.


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Pros and cons of .HTML files.




  • Fixed Layout. The XPS format is a fixed format, so you don’t have to worry about anything being changed or modified when transferring it.
  • Can support annotations. XPS files can support annotations for written text, web links and handwritten text.
  • Good compression. XPS files offer good levels of compression, meaning that they can take up more modest amounts of hard-drive space.




  • Limited editing capabilities. Once you’ve saved a document as an XPS file, you can no longer edit it. There is also currently no third-party software available for editing XPS files. PDFs, by contrast, can be updated using Adobe’s free online PDF editor.
  • Not widely supported. XPS files are less compatible with most processors. If you want to open an XPS file, then you’ll need an XPS viewer.
  • Lack of public awareness. Because most people don’t know what an XPS file is, they may even think that it is malware if you try sending them a document with an. XPS extension.



How to open an .XPS file.


XPS Document Writer is the default print to file driver that enables users to create XPS files. XPS Document Writer is pre-installed on Windows 10 and 11, but it’s not a programme where you can create XPS documents directly. 


Instead, you’ll need to open a document you want to create an XPS file from. This can be in any Windows programme that supports printing, such as Microsoft Word. Then you’ll need to print to Microsoft XPS Document Writer. 


To create an XPS file in Microsoft Word:

  1. Open Microsoft Word.
  2. Click the ‘File’ menu in the top left-hand corner then select ‘Print’.
  3. Choose ‘Microsoft XPS Document Writer’ from the ‘Select Printer’ list.
  4. Click the ‘Print’ button.
  5. Name your XPS file and click ‘Save’.
  6. Your document will now be saved under the .XPS extension. 

Once you save a document as an XPS file, you can no longer edit it, as XPS files are designed to preserve the integrity of your document. You can however save an XPS file to another application, such as Microsoft Word, to edit the document and then convert it back to the XPS format. 



How to open an .XPS file as a .PDF.


If you are using Windows Office Suite, click ‘File’ from the XPS Viewer application, then select ‘Print’. Choose the ‘Microsoft Print to PDF’ option, then hit ‘Print’ to save your PDF file. You can also convert an XPS file in Google Drive. Just upload your XPS file to Google Drive, click ‘Print’ and then ‘Save as PDF’. 


Convert an .XPS file to .PDF. 


You can convert an XPS file to a PDF. Adobe Acrobat’s online PDF converter tool is capable of converting many different types of file, while there are easy-to-follow guidelines for converting XPS to PDF.



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Explore the standard text document that can be opened and edited in any text editing or word processing programme. 

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What is the difference between .PDF and .XPS files?


While PDF and XPS files are both print and share-ready document formats, there are some notable differences between the two. You can view PDF files on most devices and open them with several different programmes, while you’ll need an XPS Viewer or compatible browser to open an XPS file. Additionally, XPS files cannot be edited once they are saved, whereas PDF files can. 


Can Adobe Acrobat open .XPS files?


No, you cannot open an XPS file with Adobe Acrobat. Adobe Acrobat does not support XPS files. You can however convert your XPS file to another format supported by Adobe Acrobat, such as PDF. This will enable you to open and edit your document as a PDF file in Adobe Acrobat. Learn how to edit PDF files with Adobe.  


What are the benefits of the .XPS format?


The XPS format offers an easy way to create, share, print and save digital documents. XPS files are simple to create, so long as you have the right software. You can also easily convert XPS files to other formats such as PDF, which may be useful if you’re wanting to edit the document in Adobe Acrobat. 


Is .XPS the same as .DOCX?


No, XPS is not the same as DOCX. Although both are document file types developed by Microsoft, the DOCX is the standard format for saving documents in Microsoft Word. Additionally, the DOCX format can easily be read and written by Microsoft Word and other word processing applications, while the XPS format is a Windows only format.   


Can I open an .XPS file in Word?


XPS files have a fixed layout, which means they’re not suitable for use in a text editor like Microsoft Word. There are a number of third-party apps available that can help you to convert the files. 



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