Anyone can view a Microsoft Visio file, once you know at least one of two tricks available. One is free software, the other is a workaround via OneDrive.
“I’ve been sent a .vsdx file to view and I’ve figured out it’s a Visio file – but how can I view it without paying for Visio?” Chris P, Austin TX.
Visio is the diagramming / flowchart part of Microsoft Office. It’s usually sold in the commercial bundles of Office.
A limited version of Visio is available to all Microsoft 365 commercial customers including Microsoft 365 Business plans.
All other people including Microsoft 365 consumer users (Family or Personal) do not have any Visio editing access, but they can view Visio files.
Like other Office programs there was a switch from the older, binary file types (.vsd, .vdx, .vdw,, .vst, .vtx) to the newer, smaller, safer XML based formats (.vsdx, .vsdm, .vstx, .vstm). Be especially wary of any files sent in the older file formats because they are more prone to virus infection.
Open Visio file online
This method makes use of the document preview features in OneDrive and works for everyone. It’s the easiest option, works on any modern computer (Windows or Mac) but does need an Internet connection.
No Microsoft plan of any kind is required. All you need is a free Microsoft account and a little of 5GB of OneDrive storage available to anyone.
Upload the Visio file to OneDrive either by uploading via a browser or syncing from a device (it doesn’t matter how it’s uploaded).
Go to the web browser version of OneDrive.com and find the Visio file.
Double-click on the Visio file to open (or right-click to choose Open | Open in a browser. It will open in a new browser window.
Under the right-side menu are some useful options including:
- Download as PDF
- Download as image
- Embed – code to either embed the Visio file in a site or share via a URL.
Viewing Visio files in Teams
Teams users can also view Visio files, just double-click on the file and it’ll open up in either the Teams app or Teams in a browser.
Visio 2016 Viewer
There’s a Windows Visio viewer available for download. It dates from 2016 but still works nicely. It’s for anyone with Windows and more suitable for anyone who regularly opens Visio files or doesn’t want their data saved online. It also works offline.
Download the Microsoft Visio 2016 Viewer from here. It’s free and works with Windows 11,10, 8.1, 8 and 7 with Internet Explorer.
That’s right the Internet Explorer browser that Microsoft has largely disowned in favor of the Edge browser. ‘IE’ still has some uses, so it’s hiding in most Windows computers.
Once installed, double-click/open any Visio file and it will open in Internet Explorer. There are some view / zoom options plus layers and comments.