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Someone send you an attachment you can't open on your computer, usually because you don't have the right software.

This often happens with Microsoft Visio files (.VSD, .VSDX)

What is Microsoft Visio ?

Visio is a Microsoft Office program that functions like a visualization tool to show data in an easily understandable way. Most often used for data that fits well with diagrams and charts, Visio takes standard images and allows flowcharts and decision diagrams to utilize those images to explain data.
It is a complex piece of software that most people have no need for on a day-to-day basis.

The MS Visio desktop apps requires a license and the user can request a license using the record producer Request MS Visio Licence if he really need it to do his work.

If the user does not have a license, what do you do when someone sends you a file in Visio format ?

Here are 2 options for opening Visio files:

Use MS Visio Viewer 2016

This is the simplest method, if all you don't need to make any changes to the Visio file.

With Visio Viewer, you can open, view, or print Visio drawings, even if you don't have Visio installed. You cannot, however, edit, save, or create a new Visio drawing with Visio Viewer. For that, you need a full version of Visio installed.

On Windows, just open CMF and install MS Visio Viewer 2016 on your computer.


  • Visio Viewer needs an Internet browser to view Visio drawings.
  • It is implemented as an ActiveX control that loads and renders Visio drawings inside Internet Explorer (IE).
  • IE 11 is no longer supported on Windows 10. But with Microsoft Edge in IE Mode set up on your PC, Visio Viewer will work as intended.


  • IE 11 is installed and enabled as a Windows feature.
    • Microsoft Edge uses IE while running in IE mode.
  • MS Visio Viewer is installed.
  • MS Visio desktop app is not installed.
  • Apply the following registry settings:
    • Right-click the following file (visio_iemode.reg) and select Save as link... on your disk, and double-click this .reg file to import it into the registry.
    • These settings associate "Microsoft Edge with IE mode" with the .vsdx file type.

Instructions for use

  • Open File Explorer, navigate to a Visio .vsd/.vsdx file.
  • Right-click the file icon and select Open with... Microsoft Edge with IE Mode.
  • Click "Allow blocked content" if Internet browser displays a warning like “Internet Explorer restricted this webpage from running scripts or ActiveX controls”.

Use other software to view Visio files

It has been tricky for software developers to decode Visio files, which is why it has been difficult to open Visio files without Visio.

However, a couple of packages have added Visio support. They don't always work perfectly (especially if your files contain complicated diagrams) but they're worth a go:

  • Draw.IO - more here
  • LibreOffice is a free alternative to Microsoft Office. It includes a package called LibreOffice Draw, which can open and save Visio files. LibreOffice is not supported and not available on CMF. The last "stable" version of LibreOffice for windows and Mac is available here.