Developed by Microsoft as a direct competitor to the ubiquitous PDF (Portable Document Format), XPS offers unique features and capabilities. While it may not be as widely used as PDF, there are still instances where you may stumble across an XPS file.
In this guide, we will provide you with a detailed, step-by-step walk-through on how to install and use XPS Viewer on your Windows 11 computer, ensuring you can seamlessly handle XPS files and even convert them into PDFs. We also offer an alternative solution for those who prefer online XPS-to-PDF conversion.
What Is an XPS File?
Before we delve into the installation process, let’s take a moment to understand what an XPS file is and why it’s still relevant in the digital document realm. XML Paper Specification, or XPS for short, was developed by Microsoft with the aim of offering a comprehensive format for documents. It not only captures the textual content of a document but also preserves its appearance, layout, and structure. In many ways, XPS was conceived to compete with the PDF format.
XPS documents typically bear the file extensions .xps or .oxps. The format boasts several unique features, including color independence, resolution independence, printer calibration support, transparencies, CMYK color spaces, and color gradients. These attributes make XPS a versatile choice for document storage and sharing.
The Missing Piece: XPS Viewer
In earlier versions of Windows, such as Windows 10 up to version 1803, the XPS Viewer was bundled as a built-in feature of the operating system. However, with the growing dominance of PDF and changing document preferences, Microsoft chose to exclude XPS Viewer from the default Windows 11 installation. But don’t fret – the XPS Viewer is not entirely obsolete, and it’s still possible to add it to your Windows 11 system. In the following sections, we’ll guide you through the installation and usage of XPS Viewer.
How to Install XPS Viewer on Windows 11
- Access the Settings: To initiate the installation process, open the ‘Settings’ menu. You can do this by clicking the Start Menu and selecting ‘Settings,’ or by using the keyboard shortcut Windows + I to launch the app.
- Navigate to Apps: Within the Settings window, you’ll find a range of options. Click on ‘Apps’ from the list on the left.
- Optional Features: On the right panel, you’ll see ‘Optional features.’ Click on this tile.
- Add an Optional Feature: Inside the Optional features settings window, you’ll notice a button labeled ‘View features’ under the ‘Add an optional feature’ section. Click on it.
- Search for XPS Viewer: In the new ‘Add an optional feature’ window, you can filter available features by typing ‘XPS Viewer’ in the search bar. The XPS Viewer feature should be approximately 3.27MB in size.
- Select and Install: Check the box next to ‘XPS Viewer’ to select it and then click ‘Next.’ Subsequently, click ‘Install.’
- Wait for Installation: In the Optional features window, under the ‘Recent actions’ section, you’ll see that the XPS Viewer is installing. Allow it to complete the installation process.
How to Use XPS Viewer on Windows 11
Now that you’ve successfully installed XPS Viewer, let’s explore how to use it effectively.
- Access XPS Viewer: To open XPS Viewer on Windows 11, simply search for ‘XPS Viewer’ in the Start menu search bar, and select the application from the search results.
- Opening XPS Files: Within the XPS Viewer window, click on ‘File’ in the toolbar, and select ‘Open…’ from the dropdown menu.
- Select Your XPS File: Navigate to the location of the XPS file you want to view using the File Explorer window. Click to select the file and then click ‘Open.’
- View Your Document: You’ll now be able to view the document within the XPS Viewer window.
Converting XPS to PDF Using XPS Viewer
One of the notable features of XPS Viewer is its ability to convert XPS documents into PDFs. Here’s how to do it:
- Open Your XPS Document: Ensure you have the XPS document open in XPS Viewer.
- Access Print Options: Click on the ‘Printer icon’ at the top of the screen.
- Select Microsoft Print to PDF: In the Print window, under the ‘Select Printer’ section, choose ‘Microsoft Print to PDF,’ and then click ‘Print.’
- Save the PDF: A File Explorer dialog will appear. Choose your desired directory to save the PDF, name the file, and click ‘Save.’
- Conversion Process: You’ll witness the conversion process within a small XPS Viewer window, and your converted PDF file will be saved.
Uninstalling XPS Viewer
If, for any reason, you wish to remove XPS Viewer from your Windows 11 system, follow these simple steps:
- Access Settings: Begin by launching ‘Settings’ from the Start menu.
- Navigate to Apps: In the Settings window, select ‘Apps’ from the list on the left.
- Locate Optional Features: Scroll down to find and select ‘Optional features’ on the ‘Apps’ panel.
- Uninstall XPS Viewer: Within the Optional features window, locate ‘XPS Viewer’ and click ‘Uninstall.’
- Restart Your System: Under the ‘Recent actions’ section, you’ll see ‘Uninstalled, restart required.’ Restart your computer to complete the removal of XPS Viewer.
Alternative Solution: Online XPS Viewer & Converter
For those seeking a quick way to convert one or two XPS documents to PDF, there are online converters available. These tools offer a convenient option for on-the-fly conversion. One recommended site is ‘XPS to PDF,’ which provides a user-friendly experience. Here’s how to use it:
- Access the Converter: Visit the XPS to PDF website.
- Upload Your XPS File: You can drag and drop your XPS file onto the website or click on the ‘UPLOAD FILES’ button after selecting the appropriate conversion tab.
- Conversion Process: Select the XPS file you wish to convert from the File Explorer window, and click ‘Open.’ The XPS file will be converted to PDF directly in your browser.
- Save Your PDF: You can save the converted file by clicking on the ‘Download’ button.
In summary, this guide has provided you with comprehensive instructions on installing and using XPS Viewer on Windows 11, including the process of converting XPS documents to PDF. Whether you prefer the built-in XPS Viewer or opt for online conversion, you now have the tools and knowledge to seamlessly work with XPS files in Windows 11.