How to enable the XPS viewer on Windows 10

Online document publishing is dominated by the PDF format. Regardless of what type of file you download; a brochure, a magazine, a report, a prospectus, chances are high that it will be in the PDF format. A PDF document will look the same no matter what device or app you view it on and it will print the same no matter what device you print it from.

PDF isn’t the only format that does this. There is also the XPS file format.

XPS files

Microsoft developed the XPS file format to rival PDF. The format didn’t quite take off but that’s not to say you will never run into an XPS file ever. To create an XPS file, you need a document editor that can save to this format. Microsoft Office apps can all save to the XPS format but they cannot read it once the file has been created. Neither can any modern browser but you will find that some PDF readers support the format.

XPS viewer – Sumatra PDF reader

A good  PDF reader will support the XPS format. There are lots of great third-party PDF readers that you can try. We suggest you give Sumatra PDF Reader a try. It’s free, has an installable and portable version, and it supports the XPS file format.

Download Sumatra PDF reader (select any version of your choice).
Install and run Sumatra PDF reader.
Drag & drop the XPS file onto the app and it will open.

XPS viewer – Google Drive

If you do not want to install an app to view an XPS file, go with Google Drive. You can upload the XPS file to Google drive and it will display its contents.

Visit Google Drive and sign in with your account.
Click the New button and select File Upload.
Select the XPS file and wait for it to upload.
Double-click to open the file in Google Drive and it will open.

XPS viewer – Windows 10 stock app

Windows 10 used to come with its own XPS viewer app. Unfortunately, Microsoft decided to discontinue it. Newer versions of Windows 10 won’t have the app installed out of the box but you can still install it.

Open the Settings app with the Win+I keyboard shortcut.
Go to Apps.
Select the Apps & Features tab.
Click Optional features.
Click Add a feature.
Select XPS viewer from the list.
Select Install (installation takes some time).
Once installed, right-click an XPS file and select Open with.
Select XPS viewer from the context menu to open the file.

Conclusion

XPS doesn’t enjoy wide support, not even with Microsoft’s own products. Unless this changes, the format is unlikely to become more common. With our tests, we found that the stock Windows 10 XPS viewer was often unable to open certain types of XPS files, even those that were created in Microsoft Word. Sumatra PDF reader on the other hand was able to handle the format without issue, regardless of what the document contained. If you’re looking to open an XPS file, and you don’t want to use the suggested apps here, look for a good PDF viewer and it should be able to do the job.