I'm working with a bioinformatics visualization tool, which saves a biological pathway as an SVG image.

I now want to view the SVG image... but am having some trouble doing so. I tried opening it as a file in both Chrome and Firefox, but in both browsers it just opens a blank page. I clicked on "View page source" and I'm able to see the XML data of the SVG image, but still, I want to see the image itself as a graphic.

What's the easiest way to view the image as a graphic? I understand that I can embed it in an HTML page and view it that way... but that's not at all convenient, if I have to create an HTML page each time I save a pathway as an image.

By the way, I'm using a 64-bit Mac OSX version 10.8.4.

  • 7
    Browsers should be able to just show it. I wonder why that's not the case for you. Can you upload an example?
    – slhck
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 19:40
  • Yes I thought that Firefox or at least Chrome should be able to view it. Is there a way to upload on Superuser? Or would I have to upload on a temporary hosting site?
    – ktm5124
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 19:58
  • No, sorry, but any file hosting site or Dropbox or something would be possible, of course.
    – slhck
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 20:00
  • 1
    I was able to open a smaller SVG file in Chrome. Could it possibly be the image size? The SVG file I'm unable to open is 20 MB.
    – ktm5124
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 20:16
  • 1
    Have you tried opening it in Inkscape? Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 20:21

17 Answers 17


I am pretty happy with Gapplin. It can convert (export) SVG images to other image formats (e.g. PNG) too.

  • 1
    Not available in the UK apparently :(
    – JMK
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 8:21
  • 1
    @JMK Thats weird, its available in Ireland anyway. I was able to download it from the App Store. Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 23:16
  • Thanks! Is there any way to use this to convert via the context menu in the finder?
    – Keyslinger
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 19:46
  • @JMK It is now!
    – Cai
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 11:03

A simple way is to use Quick Look in Mac, simply press space key on the keyboard.

  • 4
    But does Preview work with SVG files?
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 18:15
  • 3
    Mac spotlight (Command+SpaceBar) does preview for svg files. Although not the best solution.
    – jerrymouse
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 13:54
  • @Glorfindel it does for me in Catalina (I'm on 10.15.6; haven't tried other versions).
    – Sam
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 15:11
  • 2
    More precisely, Billy probably mean the preview in Finder, when you hit Space while a file is selected.
    – Florian
    Commented Oct 14, 2020 at 12:13
  • 1
    And @Florian the name of that utility summoned using the space bar is Quick Look support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/…
    – Nolan Amy
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 21:17

If you're part of the unlucky few where double clicking an .svg from Finder or opening it from the command line like open filename.svg just opens your svg file source in a text editor (and you wanted to see it visually), it appears possible to view them in a browser these days. What has happened is you installed a text editor and it "took over" as the default app to open for those file types.

Navigate in your web browser to its location, ex: file:///Users/my_username/... full URL should have look like file:///Users/username/folder/folder/my_file.svg you can start by just putting file:// in your browser URL then navigate to it.

This will "open it" visually in any major web browser. Alternatively right click on it in Finder and select "open with" and select a browser.

  • 1
    Great idea using the browser! The svg may also be drag&dropped on the browser window.
    – Felix
    Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 9:10

I needed a nearly-portable solution to view SVG files (vector export from Google Drawings, which doesn't print large images well) since my Mac is locked down to prevent typical software installation, App Store access and Chrome extensions. Fortunately, I can run Homebrew. That led me to install Inkscape from Homebrew using this command.

brew install --cask inkscape

There is a nice new free SVG editor with you can get from the Mac App Store or the Chrome Web Store. Give it a try, it's free now $9.99 on the App Store.

Boxy SVG - the scalable vector graphics editor

enter image description here

  • 4
    macSVG is free + Open Source.
    – Bruno
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 6:15
  • 1
    @Bruno sound cool, may give it a try, however I still using Boxy SVG to this day, so I very much recommend it !
    – Laszlo
    Commented Apr 9, 2020 at 19:07

GraphicConverter has always been my standby 'any format' viewer & editor - it does SVG too
Caveat: Not free & there may be other apps that can do it.

  • I see. Yes we're looking for a free software (or browser function).
    – ktm5124
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 19:57
  • Adobe used to make a viewer plugin... dumped summarily in 2009 adobe.com/devnet/svg/adobe-svg-viewer-download-area.html ... one reason Apple won't use Adobe formats natively, they drop support or change formats at any time.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 20:01
  • 1
    It might be time to be looking at a newer format, before you lose the ability to open/edit in future
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 20:05
  • The software I use only lets you download the visualization in SVG format.
    – ktm5124
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 20:39
  • 1
    I'd be inclined to poke upwards towards management, about a historic format - not going to be good for archiving
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 20:47

I found that applications would refuse to open an SVG on OSX unless I gave it the correct extension. So I renamed the file to, in my case, pprof.svg. I was then able to "open with" Chrome.


I just discovered SVG Converter by Ohanaware on the Mac App Store. It converts to a number of formats and can crop before converting. Opening an SVG image gives you a nice window that shows the image and conversion is optional.

  • @Scott it does give a preview. This is where the cropping can occur.
    – Paul Waldo
    Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 12:04
  • Thanks for responding  and  editing your answer. Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 16:36

On macOS 10.12, I have been working with SVG files drawn using Inkscape and my own hand-written SVG files composed in a text editor.

Initially the Inkscape files would open as images in a web browser, in Preview, and via Quick Look (spacebar in the Finder), but my hand-written files would not. Instead they were displayed as raw source XML.

It turned out that the critical difference between the two was that my hand-written files were missing xmlns:

<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" width=… …>

Once I added a namespace declaration to <svg>, macOS recognised my hand-written files as SVG images and displayed them as such.

Perhaps your bioinformatics visualization tool has also omitted this declaration?


you can try this photo viewer to browse SVG images on Mac with ease.

  • 1
    Almost went with this option, turns out I had "icon preview off" in finder view options. That solved my problem of dealing with hundreds of SVGs in a folder
    – Ray Foss
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 13:42

Quick no-install option:

  1. Preview it in finder with spacebar
  2. Maximize the window (top left)
  3. Take screenshot with cmd-shift-3 or similar
  • The best answer ever! :) No additional software, pure macOS :) Thanks!
    – Oo.oO
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 16:47

Pressing spacebar is noted on the answers but I was interested to know how one can bring that from command line without the finder and turned out that be can done using

qlmanage -p filename.svg

But apparently it needs an interactive shell to work as I couldn't issue it from an app/script I wanted the functionality, to me it quickly turned out, my editor, IntelliJ Idea, was able to show SVGs itself so I'm using that anyway guess however someone will see find how one can bring qlmanage from a shell correctly also.

  • Also to note, qlmanage is also able to render SVG to PNG or something but I didn't just test it. Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 15:21

I love the tool ImageMagick it is available from the apt repo for linix as well as a GitHub.

Edit: It is a simple command-line utility that utilizes the file extensions, or user flags to override to convert images, with the first file being converted (and copied ) into the second file in the argument list. Source: https://github.com/ImageMagick/ImageMagick

  • 1
    Explaining how this tool answers the question would make it more helpful. Also, please read our Help section where there's an article explaining how best to recommend software. Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 22:38
  • This is a quite non-Mac answer to a Mac-specific question. Mac does not have APT. It does, however, have third-party package managers likeHomebrew, MacPorts, Fink… all of which I believe offer ImageMagick (e.g., brew install imagemagick). The ImageMagick website itself recommends installing via Homebrew.
    – Frungi
    Commented Dec 1, 2020 at 0:35

For new versions of Chrome, it can render SVG files directly(I just tried with Chrome 79).


Gimp is free and worked for me. https://www.gimp.org/


Most internet browsers can view SVGs.

right click the svg -> open in safari, then it will open in a new tab.


svg format is an XML format. So you do not need to convert it into html. You should be able to directly view it in a browser. You can confirm this by opening the file in a text editor and checking the encoding.

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