SVG Files: What They Are and How to Open & Convert Them

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) files use XML-based formatting and can be opened with a web browser or an image tool like PhotoShop

What to Know

  • An SVG file is a Scalable Vector Graphics file.
  • Open one with any browser or an image tool like Photoshop, Illustrator, or GIMP.
  • Convert to PNG or JPG using our tool (below) or to other formats with a graphics editor.

This article explains what an SVG file is and how the format is different than other image formats, how to open one, and how to convert one to a more common format like PNG or JPG.

What Is an SVG File?

A file with the SVG file extension is most likely a Scalable Vector Graphics file. Files in this format use an XML-based text format to describe how the image should appear.

Since text is used to describe the graphic, an SVG file can be scaled to different sizes without losing quality—the format is resolution-independent. This is why website and print graphics are often built in the SVG format, so they can be resized to fit different designs in the future.

If an SVG file is compressed with GZIP compression, the file ends with the .SVGZ file extension and could be 50 percent to 80 percent smaller in size than a non-compressed file.

Other files with the .SVG file extension that aren't related to a graphics format may instead be Saved Game files. Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Grand Theft Auto, and other games save the progress of the game to an SVG file.

How to Open an SVG File

The easiest and quickest way to open an SVG file to view it (not to edit it) is with a modern web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge—nearly all of them provide some sort of rendering support for the SVG format. This means you can open online SVG files without having to download them first.

SVG file open in Chrome

If you already have an SVG file on your computer, a web browser can also be used as an offline SVG viewer. Open those SVG files through the web browser's Open option (the Ctrl+O keyboard shortcut).

SVG files can be created through Adobe Illustrator, so you can use that program to open the file. Some other Adobe programs that support SVG files include Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and InDesign programs. Adobe Animate works with SVG files, too.

Some non-Adobe programs that can open an SVG file include Microsoft Visio, CorelDRAW, PaintShop Pro, and CADSoftTools ABViewer.

Inkscape, GIMP, and Vectornator are free programs that can work with SVG files, but you must download them to open the file. To edit one in your browser (no download necessary), try Photopea.

Since a Scalable Vector Graphics file is really a text file in its details, you can view the text version of the file in any text editor. Consider using one of the best free text editors, or use the default text reader in your operating system, such as Notepad in Windows.

SVG file open in Notepad++

For Saved Game files, the game that created the SVG file most likely uses it automatically when you resume the gameplay, which means you probably can't manually open the SVG file through the program's menu. Even if you do manage to get the SVG file to open through an Open menu of some sort, you have to use the right SVG file that goes with the game that created it.

If the game itself won't open the SVG file, try GTA2 Saved Game Editor or open the SVG file in a text editor to see if there's something there that's of use.

How to Convert an SVG File

The easiest way to convert an SVG file to either PNG or JPG, the two most common image formats, is to use our own SVG file converter:

Converting an SVG file with an online tool like ours is usually the quickest and easiest way to get your file into the format you want. No need to have an expensive program installed or to download unfamiliar software.

If you need to convert it to a different format, like PDF or GIF, and your SVG is small, a third-party online tool like Zamzar will do the trick.

Autotracer is another online SVG converter that converts an SVG (from your device or through its URL) to some other types of formats, such as EPS, Adobe Illustrator file (AI), DXF, PDF, and SK.

If you have a large SVG file, any of the software programs mentioned above in the How to Open an SVG File section should be able to save/export the SVG file to a new format.

For example, if you use Inkscape, after you open or edit the SVG file, you can save it back to SVG with any changes you make, but you can also save it to a different file format, such as PNG, PDF, DXF, ODG, EPS, TAR, PS, HPGL, and many others.

More Information on SVG Files

The Scalable Vector Graphics format was created in 1999 and is still being developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The entire contents of an SVG file is text. If you open one in a text editor, you see only text. SVG viewers are able to read the text and understand how it should be displayed.

You can edit the dimensions of the image to make it as large as you want without affecting its quality. Since the instructions for rendering the image can be easily altered in an SVG editor, so too can the image itself.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between SVG, PNG, and JPG? SVG is a vector-based graphic format that represents images as mathematical values. JPG is a raster or bitmap image format, while PNG uses binary code to compress image data. SVG files are preferred for graphic design because anyone can easily view the intended dimensions of each image element.
  • How do I convert an SVG file to a Microsoft Word document? You can include SVG files in a Microsoft Word document the same way you insert pictures into Word. When you select the SVG image, you can make edits using the Format tab at the top of Word. You can do the same in Microsoft Outlook and Excel.
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