What IT Pros need to know about the new VSDX file format in Visio 2013

You may have heard by now that Visio 2013 has introduced an XML-based file format, VSDX, to provide new capabilities in Visio, such as co-authoring, and to improve interoperability with other applications. If this is news to you, you’ll find some great information in the Visio Blog’s post VSDX: the new Visio file format. If you want to dive deeper into the technical details of the VSDX format, see Introduction to the Visio 2013 file format (.vsdx) and How to: Manipulate the Visio 2013 file format programmatically on MSDN.

Our IT Pros likely recall the challenges of migrating from Office 2003’s binary file format to the OpenXML file format used in Office 2007 and later versions. With Visio 2013, you’ll have similar challenges, but we think you’ll agree that the migration is worth the effort. There are many benefits to be gained from this new VSDX format, including smaller file sizes, improved data recovery, and easier interoperability.

New file types in Visio 2013

Visio has three principal types of files: drawings, templates, and stencils. These file types are still available in the new format, with one difference: like the other Office applications, we now offer macro-free and macro-enabled formats. The new extensions for each file type are listed in the table below.














Compatibility features in Visio 2013

Visio 2013 provides several compatibility features to help transition users from the old format to the new. These features include:

  • Compatibility mode for opening VSD drawings in Visio 2013.
  • A Conversion button that converts VSD drawings to VSDX.
  • Compatibility checker that helps users save new drawings back to the VSD format.

Users can learn more about the new compatibility features in these articles on Office.com:

Update: Visio 2010 users can now download the Visio Compatibility Pack from the Microsoft Download Center. The Microsoft Visio Compatibility Pack lets Visio 2010 users open files created in the newer Visio 2013 drawing file format (files with a .vsdx and .vsdm extension). The Microsoft Visio Compatibility Pack opens drawings in the newer file format when used together with the Microsoft Visio 2010 SP2 update.

Setting the default file type in Visio 2013 using Group Policy

By default, Visio 2013 saves files using the VSDX format. This is fine if all users are using Visio 2013. If you have some users who will continue to use earlier versions of Visio, you can use Group Policy to set the default file type in Visio 2013 to VSD. The Group Policy setting Save Visio files as is available in the Office 2013 Administrative Template files (ADMX/ADML) and Office Customization Tool. Look for the setting under User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Visio 2013\Visio Options\Save\Save Documents.

Here are the file formats that you can set as the default file type for Visio 2013:

  • Visio document: VSDX format  (this is the default format)
  • Visio Macro-Enabled Document: VSDM format
  • Visio 2003-2013 Document VSD format


As always, leave us a comment if you have suggestions for IT Pro content for Visio 2013.




Comments (21)
  1. Thanks everyone for your comments. We are working on a Compatibility Pack for Visio 2010 that will add support for opening VSDX files. This pack will not be available for Visio 2007 or earlier versions.

  2. New for Visio 2010 SP2 users: The Microsoft Visio Compatibility Pack lets Visio 2010 users open files created in the newer Visio 2013 drawing file format (files with a .vsdx and .vsdm extension). The Microsoft Visio Compatibility Pack opens drawings in the newer file format when used together with the Microsoft Visio 2010 SP2 update.


  3. The Microsoft Visio 2013 Viewer is now available to help users open .vsdx, .vsdm, .vsd, .vdx, .vdw, .vstx, .vstm, .vst, or .vtx files by using Internet Explorer.

    You can download the viewer from http://www.microsoft.com/…/details.aspx

  4. opening visio 2013 files in visio 2010 says:

    I was hoping to find out if 2010 can open 2013 files

  5. opening visio 2013 files in visio 2010 says:

    Unfortunately that's not an answer to the question if it is possible to open vsdx files in 2010. Is there a compatibility pack available or will it be available.

  6. Tom_R says:

    What is the solution for opening vsdx files on Windows XP running Visio 2010? Visio Viewer only runs on Windows 7 or 8.

  7. MGG says:

    I have Visio2010 and I do not wish to use a viewer.

    How do I open the VSDX files on Vision 2010 ?

    and when I open them I want to modify them not only look at them.

    We need a converter or compatibility pack.

  8. visio_nick says:

    In our business we are using Windows XP / Server 2008 R2 / Windows 8 clients with Visio 2010 / Visio 2013 installed. How am I able to open *.VSDX files on Visio 2010 clients?

  9. kjstech says:

    Wow all these questions on how to open these files in older versions of Visio but not one answer?  This is a very straightforward, simple question.  Like Office 2003… does is there a compatibility pack to install that would allow Visio 2007 / 2010 open these 2013 files?

    When we were still on Office 2003 we pushed out a compatibility pack that allowed users to utilize the docx / xlsx formats.  Looking for a similar pack.

  10. ad says:

    Yes, if there is no converter, at least tell us that.  This is a major issue.

  11. Priyanka says:

    Jill, do we have this compatibility pack now?

  12. jerry says:

    Wouldn't you guys have thought about a compatibility pack for Visio 2010 when you released Visio 2013? I'm not sure why that wasn't a pressing issue for Microsoft.  This happens ALL the time with you guys.  you develop a new software and yet 99.99% of the world doesn't automatically jump over to it.

  13. GGF says:

    And why no Compatibility Pack for Visio 2007? My company is several steps behind because they don't trust the stability of your newer software.

  14. Bhooshan says:

    I am trying to Save the Visio drawing with Hyperlinks as WEb page and upload it to server and the link is not working properly with Visio 2013. it was working good with visio 2007. Any suggestion on how to resolve this.

  15. Cadcritter says:

    We downgraded V2010 to V2007 due to the insane page auto-sizing "functionality". We have literally thousands of legacy drawings, so a compatibility pack for 2007 would be helpful. Either that or remove the automatic page sizing "feature" from Visio altogether.

  16. Yuhong Bao says:

    If you don't want to upgrade to Visio 2010, there is a command-line way to convert Visio documents described in the installation instructions.

  17. curious says:

    you can convert 2003 files to 2013 files, yes. But why would you want to do that when it creates, instead of 1 icon on the toolbar per file, upwards of 40 icons per file? Is there a way to convert back to .vsd from .vsdx and get that one icon back on my
    tool bar? Has anyone who has converted to 2013 seen this issue? If recreate my visios manually in 2013, will I get the 1 to 1 icon to file ratio on my tool bar when I hover over the visio 2013 icon or will it 40 odd to 1? what are all those other 'version'
    icons for?

  18. Nizam says:

    I used Visio 2007 and need the compatibility pack for Visio 2007 as well.

  19. AnotherUserOfVisio2007 says:

    Over a year has passed, still waiting to hear what their solution is to the new 2013 "features". Tough to tell if they are reading the comments of the people who use their product. Engineer in next cube has Visio2013 and was unable to print second page
    of Visio2007 file. He could only view it. Saving in an updated Visio2013 vsdx file format provided no benefit.

  20. sigh says:

    We've stared receiving oiur first vsdx files via email and netiher the 32 or 64 bit visdx Viewer appear to install correctly under Windows 7. The installer completes and the viewer shows up in the programs and Features menu but all that happens is IE tries
    "downloading" the file (from the desktop!) and you get stuck in a "Find Save Cancel" dialog.

    How is it with an IT industry awash with billions of dollars, after decades of software development, still, nothing JUST WORKS?

  21. Robert says:

    I feel your pain. I have worked this for days, tweaking ActiveX, IE permissions, you name it. But finally I found it and felt obliged to go back to the sites that left no real answer in the threads. So here you go.

    You need the service pack. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2817444

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