What Is a VSD File?

Microsoft Visio uses this file as a drawing project

What to Know

  • A VSD file is a drawing project created and used by Visio.
  • It contains things like CAD drawings, charts, text, and annotations.
  • Convert one to PDF, an image format, or HTML at Zamzar.

This article describes what a VSD file is and how to open one or convert one to a different format.

What Is a VSD File?

A file with the .VSD file extension is a drawing file created by Visio, Microsoft's professional graphics application. These are binary files that might hold text, images, CAD drawings, charts, annotations, objects, and more.

Visio files are used to make everything from software and network diagrams to flowcharts and organizational charts.

VSD Files

Microsoft Visio 2013 (and newer) default to storing Visio drawing files with the .VSDX file extension, which is based on XML and compressed with ZIP.

VSD is also short for some things that have nothing to do with computer file formats, like variable speed drive, Visual Studio debugger, vertical situation display, and virtual shared disk. It's also the name of the disc-based analog video format that stands for Video Single Disc.

How to Open VSD Files

Visio is the primary program used to create, open, and edit VSD files. If you don't have that program, you can still open the file with CorelDRAW, iGrafx FlowCharter, or ConceptDraw PRO.

Some other VSD openers that work without having Visio installed, and that are completely free, include LibreOffice and Microsoft Visio 2013 Viewer. The former is a free office suite similar to MS Office (which is what Visio is a part of) and the latter is a free tool from Microsoft that, once installed, will open VSD files in your web browser.

LibreOffice and ConceptDraw PRO can open VSD files on macOS as well as Windows. Mac users can also use VSD Viewer.

If you need to use the file on Linux, installing LibreOffice is your best option.

The Visio Viewer iPhone/iPad app can open these files as well.

VSDX files are used in MS Office 2013 and newer, so you need the Microsoft Visio Compatibility Pack if you want to use the VSDX file in an older version of the software.

VSDX files are structured differently than VSD files, which means you can extract some of the contents out without even needing any of these programs. Your best bet is with a free file extractor like 7-Zip.

How to Convert a VSD File

Zamzar is a free document converter that lets you convert a VSD file online to PDF, BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG, and TIF/TIFF.

You can use Visio's File > Save As menu option to convert the file to VSDX and other Visio file formats like VSSX, VSS, VSTX, VST, VSDM, VSTM, and VDW. Visio can also save the file to SVG, DWG, DXF, HTML, PDF, and a number of image file formats, making sharing really easy.

The other programs mentioned above can probably save it to other formats as well, probably through a Save as or Export menu.

Still Can't Open the File?

If the information above isn't helping you open or convert your file, you might not be dealing with a VSD file at all. Check that you're reading the file extension correctly; it should read ".VSD" after the file name. If it doesn't, then you have a file that just shares some of the same letters as this extension.

For example, PSD looks almost like VSD, but it's used with Photoshop, not Visio. ESD files are similar, but might be used with either the Microsoft operating system or the Expert Scan software. VSO files are used by the DirectX SDK's vertex shader tool.

Another one that's a little confusing is the VST file extension. It could be a Visio drawing template, but it might instead be a VST audio plugin. If it's the former then it, of course, can open with Visio, but if it's a plugin, it has to be used with a program that can accept that format, which isn't Visio.

The VHD and VHDX file extensions are similar, too, but those are used for virtual hard drives.

More Information on the VSD Format

This format uses lossless compression to compress the contents of the file. A similar format called Visio drawing XML (it uses the .VDX file extension) does not. This is why VDX files are often three to five times larger in file size than VSDs.

Even though Visio 2013+ doesn't default to storing new documents in the VSD format, these versions still fully support the format so that you can open, edit and save to it if you want to.

Was this page helpful?